We are nearing the end of our family birthday season as son #1 celebrated his 11th birthday yesterday. As usual, we made a birthday cake which the wee boy decided should be a strawberry cake. In December.
Funnily enough, I had seen some strawberries (from Egypt) in our local supermarket the other day as I was flying in for yet another thing that I had forgotten, so we, once again, flew into the shop and picked up a couple of punnets of strawberries.
I made a Victoria Sponge which consisted of 225g of butter, castor sugar and self raising flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder and 4 eggs. But instead of adding vanilla extract, put a splash of strawberry essence into the mix.
Now here’s an interesting thing. I used to cream the butter and sugar together, add the eggs and extract/essence then sift in the flour and baking powder before folding it all into the creamed butter scenario. However, I watched this very informative food history programme a couple of months ago which said that the only reason people sifted their flour, was to make sure there were no bugs or remnants of other wee beasties, hanging out in the flour. No other reason. So, now I just shove the whole lot into my glorious Kenwood and turn the knob on.
I tell you what, I think the cake comes out lighter than it used to. Obviously both tins of mixture, when cooked, still resemble an attempt at K2, but that’s my oven.
So, back to the cake. Having successfully cooked the sponge I turned my attention to the icing and, having tasted the strawberries, decided that they were not pleasant enough to plonk on top of the cake, and went on to severely reprimand myself for even considering buying strawberries in December. However, as I had already purchased said offending article, I thought it probably best to whizz them up with icing sugar and a little butter to bring out their sweetness and make a beautiful coloured icing.
And this is where everything went a little pear shaped.
Firstly, I hadn’t taken into consideration the amount of water strawberries hold, naturally. So, having whizzed up the amounts I normally use (half amount of butter to icing sugar) I found myself faced with a beautiful river of deep pink sweetness. No problem, I thought, I’ll just add more icing sugar. After all, I had plenty.
After the whole jar of icing sugar had been used to no avail, I then did that thing which I presume most people do when they haven’t quite come to terms with the inevitable. I opened the fridge door, and looked inside.
I’m not sure whether I’ve mentioned it before, but our fridge is a little temperamental and has taken upon itself to make unilateral decisions as to the level of cold it pumps through itself. Recently, it’s gone to full blast, almost freezing. As a consequence of which, a can of fizzy pop that has been lingering in the fridge for the last few months, decided it had had enough of hanging around in the ever increasing cold with no attention being given to it, and exploded. Inside the fridge.
The thing about Christmas, is that the amount of time I can dedicate to menial tasks diminishes exponentially with the amount of time left until the big day. In reality, this means that anything, such as the fridge wearing the after effects of an exploding can of pop, that should really be given my full attention, is given the ‘quick flick’ treatment. As in, wipe away what you can see, leave the deep clean for another day.
I know, it’s appalling behaviour and I should feel much more ashamed than I do. It’s on the list.
Back to the icing. Having stared, mid distance, into the unappealing fridge, I realised that I had no option but to go out and buy some more icing sugar. Which I duly did. And this is where things took another interesting turn.
It seems that the weekend before Christmas, the world and his wife suddenly takes a fancy to buying icing sugar.
Of all the things that worry me, my local supermarket running out of icing sugar has just never made an appearance. Until now. Thankfully there was a box of royal icing sugar hiding away at the back of the shelf, so I swiped it up, paid for it, and made a quick exit.
To be honest, it didn’t make that much difference, and I should have maybe let it get itself together in the fridge for a while before popping it onto the cake however, as you all know, birthdays are only 24 hours long, and the clock was ticking.
You’ll be pleased to hear that eventually, everything came together and we managed to put candles onto a sloping cake sat in the middle of a strawberry river. But, as always, once a candle or two is lit, the magic always appears. And yesterday was no exception.
It tastes pretty good too.
Now then, what else do I have to do?
*pulls out a list as long as your arm*