It has been quite the birthday weekend for Boy Lacer, although his birthday is today (and he is oh so pleased it hasn’t fallen on a school day for once, whereas conversely Girl Lacer, whose birthday normally falls over the half term holiday, is so excited that this year it doesn’t), his party was yesterday, as one of Boy Lacer’s good friends happens to share a birthday with him (born same hospital and everything, Boy Lacer is about 12 hours older) and I didn’t want the parties to clash. So Boy Lacer had his party yesterday; nearly all the boys in his class for an extremely noisy two hours in the local gym, complete with bouncy castle, relay races and the most important of all, three very lovely ladies who managed it all for us. Boy Lacer had never had a ‘big party’* before, his previous two birthdays he’s had a few friends over for tea but that has been that. To be honest prior to this year, he very probably wouldn’t have managed a big, noisy, active party, particularly one where he was the centre of attention, so he deserved a big party and in a way it wasn’t just a celebration of him turning 7, it was a celebration of the fact that he could now have a party like that, he has so progressed over the last year, something I will always be grateful to his class teachers last year for.
Anyway, parties of course need cake, so this is what I made . . .
The cake is Bill Granger’s Cake For a Crowd, which I’ve made a lot of times before, which is therefore weird how this time it came out a bit crumbly, I have no idea why that happened and it’s a bit unfortunate that it did considering the event. Me and Girl Lacer (both avid Great British Bake Off fans) spent quite a lot of time staring at it, trying to work out what happened, trying to work out “what Paul would say” (probably not something particularly complementary). Also unfortunately the icing turned out to be, oops, a little alcoholic. *Hangs head in shame*. I’m hoping it’s just because I have an extremely sensitive sense of taste and I could detect it but I only realised after I had a slice after the party. You’re all wondering what on earth I did to make the icing taste alcoholic, well you see in the Great Drip of 2012 (aka the leak through my kitchen ceiling), I managed to loose my shelf of baking goodies, the drip itself didn’t reach them, it’s just that when a plumber finally fixed the leak, there was one last final almighty gush which flooded out of the kitchen ceiling, threatening to bust our light and soaked all my baking goodies with dirty water. Soooo I had to replace my vanilla extract and I happened to be replacing my vanilla extract in Waitrose where the only variety of vanilla extract is posh and so I treated myself to some nice looking Australian organic stuff, which it turns out smells absolutely wonderful when you open it and is pretty good when you cook it in a cake yet tastes alcoholic when you put it in icing. I dunno, I only used about 1/2 a tablespoon, label (which I of course read afterwards) said 35% alcohol, so I doubt I was in danger of getting the kids with their tiny portions pissed but still, the alcohol taste was a little off putting. Also I totally forgot that it was likely that some of the kids at the party wouldn’t be able to eat gelatine sweets (of which yes, there turned out to be some kids that couldn’t), I should have gone for the cake I made today . . .
Because actual birthdays need cake to, I made this whilst Boy Lacer was out at his second party birthday party of the weekend (his friend’s, which apparently had pretty much the same crowd of kids as yesterday, their class teacher is going to be faced with half a class of exhausted kids tomorrow). The recipe is from Jane Brocket’s Vintage Cakes and is the simple chocolate cake recipe from Jane’s daughter Phoebe (I love following Jane Brocket’s blog, particularly for the photos of her daughter’s sweet laden cakes, the birthday party cake was inspired by Phoebe’s cakes to). Vintage Cakes is a new acquisition in my cook book library and I will review it properly a little later (quite a few cakes I plan to make from there) but so far so good, the simple chocolate cake did exactly what it said it would, in that it was billed as being gratifyingly sweet and appealing to both young and old alike, i.e. not too chocolate-y, even though it looks it and yep, it looks a really chocolate-y but actually wasn’t, even Mr. Lacer could eat it and he hates too chocolate-y chocolate cake. This will definitely be a recipe I will go back to again and again.
Girl Lacer helped me with the icing on both the party cake and the birthday cake, I’m really loving how as she grows older when we do something together like this, it is more as a team rather than as more of a control and supervisory thing.
Other than eating cake and partying, Boy Lacer has had his grandma come to visit, been out for pizza, got some very cool presents (he’s got his own Paper Jamz guitar now, thanks to a very generous friend, which he is extremely chuffed with, as Mr. Lacer already plays and me and Girl Lacer are learning, so he’s got his own guitar now to place with our three guitars^) and has been shopping and bought a whole shed load of books, so I think he’s had a good weekend, as evidenced by the fact that he’s now getting tired and a little stroppy, time for bed (and an apt entry for what turns out to be this blog’s 2000th post).
PS This weekend I also had time to make a little bunting, like you do
* We’re always very mindful that we try and treat Girl and Boy Lacer equally, which I know can be difficult at the best of times between two siblings but it can be especially tricky when one of them is autistic. Girl Lacer had her ‘big party’ (where we invited the whole class and then some) when she was 5, something she’s a little sulky about now, as she can’t remember it but I have always wanted to do the same for Boy Lacer.
^Girl Lacer is also learning to play the cello, as she’s now in the year at school where everyone gets to learn to play a musical instrument for a year. There’s no choice about which instrument you get and Girl Lacer has been given the cello, I suspect because she’s one of the tallest in her year, however compared to her schoolmates she probably lives in one of the smallest homes and do we have the space for a cello for a year? . . . Not really, it’s bad enough with the three guitars. But it’s one of those things where you just grin and shrug your shoulders, I actually like the cello and I’m a tinsey bit jealous, as I was always attracted to the cello when I was younger (in my musical youth) and at least this isn’t one of the years when the whole year learns a brass instrument.