Last week, Middle turned 4. She was very excited. But still quite pragmatic. On the day before her birthday, when I told her that this was her last day of being 3, she corrected me. “No, this is my last day of being 3 and a half.” It’s important that she be as big as she can be. Maybe I should call her the big-little sister instead.
I really like making birthday cakes. And as a working mom, I kind of feel that I should really make the effort to make a homemade cake for events as important as my children’s birthdays. Like I owe it to them. Maybe it’s also because I’m part of the Martha Stewart generation, and I feel compelled to do things from scratch, even if it causes me some stress. But mostly, making cakes is fun, and it helps me feel like I’m managing to balance everything without cheating. Plus, it’s one of those ‘you’re such a mom’ things that I do.
When Oldest turned 1, I made a baby friendly carrot cake from a baby cook book. I felt quite virtuous about it, but it wasn’t very good. The next 1st birthday cake was chocolate, but still homemade. By baby number three, the number 1 candle was plunked in the middle of a store-bought cake. When Oldest wanted a princess cake from the grocery store when she turned 5 last September, although I felt a little disappointed, I also obliged without protest. It might be a little less satisfying for me, but buying a cake is so much easier.
Back to Middle's 4th birthday cake: we had been talking about and planning her birthday cake for weeks. First, she wanted a chocolate cake with pigs on it, like they were playing in the mud. (Cool, I thought – that could be both easy and fun!) Then, it was a white cake with flowers around the edges. (Sounded like a store-bought cake to me.) And for a while, I thought for sure I was going to be making another castle cake.
The first castle cake came when Oldest turned 3. I did a lot of Google research looking up “how to make a castle cake”. Some of the cakes I found were beautiful, but also quite elaborate and complicated. I prefer to go for simple and easy. So I skipped covering the ice cream cones with chocolate, and stuck to a single layer. But pink icing, chocolate windows, and marshmallow parapets were very important. It was obviously a hit because the castle cake returned for the 4th birthday of Oldest, and the 3rd birthday of Middle. I was afraid that I might be making it for Youngest's 2nd birthday too, but I managed to talk her into a bunny rabbit.
Middle also talked for a while about a doggie cake for her 4th birthday. Then, out of the blue, on the day before her party, she decided she wanted a Dora cake. (Dora? We hardly even watch Dora.) I thought this would mean that I would have to surrender to another store-bought cake. However, when I checked it out, the Dora cake in the grocery store was fancy, but I wasn't sure that our families would appreciate the fluorescent green and orange icing. In the end, it was a homemade cake with Dora cake toppers (thank goodness for the Bulk Barn!). Definitely no work of art, but Middle was happy.