Tomorrow, is our son’s 11th Birthday and of course, it’s going to be bigger than Ben Hur.
Surprise! Surprise! I decided to bake a Chocolate Cake and I’m jazzing it up with a caramel and whipped cream filling and smothering the lot with lashings of Milk Chocolate Ganache and a sprinkling of M & Ms. I know that sounds really indulgent,even decadent, but you only have a birthday once a year!
Chocolate cake…You can’t go wrong with chocolate cake.
However, you obviously haven’t heard about my luck with making birthday cakes. It’s so bad that I’ve dubbed it: “The Great Birthday Cake Curse”!! For some strange reason, every single birthday cake I’ve ever made has been cursed, doomed, even double-doomed, as all sorts of dreadful complications set in.
Yet, with the precision of a surgeon, I painstakingly restore the cake and save the day.
Hey, who am I kidding?
There’s nothing precise about me in the kitchen. Rather, I’m very “slap dash”, whacking on the icing to camouflage near-fatal, structural craters, which are so deep that you could hide a semi-trailer inside…even an entire road train!!
Yet, despite these devastating catastrophes, I overcame the hurdles and had that cake out on the plate, candles alight with everybody singing “Happy Birthday”.
My husband’s uncle, who was a builder, always used to say that the difference between an amateur and a professional is being able to cover up their mistakes. Looking at how I’ve patched up my cakes, I can’t help wondering how many houses down in NE Tasmania are being held together by lumps of icing? It’s one of the world’s greatest gap fillers!!
Despite my birthday caketastrophes, I’m renowned for my scrumptious pavlovas and choc-chip cookies. Indeed, when I took my choc chip cookies to scouts recently, I was quite the pied piper attracting throngs of little admirers. Indeed, after seeing the cookies in action, I decided to throw out my copy of How To Win Friends & Influence People and simply hand out cookies instead.
This only compounds my confusion. What’s the deal with the birthday cakes? Why do I have so much trouble? Who knows? It remains one of life’s great mysteries!
No doubt being more practical than yours truly, I can hear you wondering why I don’t just buy a cake instead? Why do I keep torturing myself birthday cake after agonising birthday cake? Talk about a masochist!
Well, if you have ever made a birthday cake for someone you love, you’ll know precisely why I have to make these @#$% birthday cakes myself. That’s right. I add that magic ingredient…my love. You can’t buy, manufacture or even fake that and it’s not something you can buy off the supermarket shelf!
So here I am the night before Mister’s big 11th birthday expecting a tribe of friends at his party. The cakes have been baked without incident. Everything is proceeding exceptionally well.
That was until it came to whipping the cream . A relatively simple task but that’s what turned the tide. Actually, make that whipping the low-fat lactose-free cream. Mister and other family members are lactose intolerant. I was concerned that being low-fat might be a problem but I’m ever the optimist.
I’d been beating the absolute crap out of the cream and it was still sploshing around like milk in the bowl when it should have been resembling butter, if not cheese. It had also splattered absolutely all over the bench, anything parked on it and all down my shirt. That was when I dug out my magnifying glass and had a closer look at the label. My eyesight isn’t what it used to be. Oh my goodness! There it was. “Not suitable for whipping”. The cake was doomed. The party was doomed.Disaster!!!
It was 11.00PM. The shops were shut and I had two cakes which desperately needed to be sandwiched together. In my desperation, I thought the caramel might just be enough. Being my usual Einstein self, I thought that if I scooped the thicker layer of cream off the “milk” and mixed it with the caramel, to put it good old colloquial Australian lingo: “she’ll be right, mate”.
Instead of bulking up the caramel, the cream almost turned it liquid. My only hope was that it would fill up the bubbles in the cake before it ran off the edge and onto the plate. Taking a chance, I hoisted up the second layer of cake and prayed it would stay put, despite slipping and sliding around on roller skates. My only hope now was that the chocolate ganache would hold the cake together against all odds.
Not to be deterred by my humble prayers, catastrophe followed catastrophe and if I hadn’t developed resilience from all my previous birthday cake disasters, there would have been tears, loud wailing and unceasing sobs as I cried and cried and cried….the world’s biggest loser of a Mum!
It might not be my party, but I’ll cry if I want to!! You would cry too if this had happened to you!
It’s My Party: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCPqaG8sVDE
Then and I guess you can see it coming, the @#$% cream stuffed up the ganache, which was sploshing like a chocolate milkshake. Desperate, I added cup after cup of icing sugar, trying to thicken it up. I’d poured in half the bag and it was still looking sloppy but at least, it was holding some shape. I poured the “ganache” over the cake and I looking like a human pretzel, I crossed everything I had to boost my luck.
But no! The ganache flowed over the top of the cake and kept going creating a moat around the poor, drowning cake. The river was so deep, you could literally kayak through it. Definitely not the look I was looking for so I started bailing the ganache out with a ladle and not unsurprisingly, it sploshed all over the bench and that’s when I found the dog not unsurprisingly underfoot.
This is where the birthday cake curse worked in my favour. Not being my first salvage operation, I had a few tricks up my sleeve. In this instance, the answer had to be M & Ms. They cover up a multitude of sin. Although thanks to that wretched low fat lactose free “cream”, even they mucked up and were sliding down the cake. @#$%!!!
However, just when you think you’ve hit rock bottom, there’s salvation.
I could have hugged one of my son’s friends. As he takes his first mouthful, he speaks up like a true Masterchef:
“I know what this is. It’s chocolate mouse!”
I’ve never been so thrilled. The chocolate ganache monster had a name and it was good.
Guess, it goes to show that you can’t go wrong with a chocolate cake after all!
By the way, here’s a past post about Birthday Cakes: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=5947&action=edit&message=6&postpost=v2
Do you have any funny birthday stories to share? I’d love to hear them!!