Grandma wins

Dot writes: when I was a girl my mother made amazing cakes for my birthday parties. I remember a marvellous one that was constructed to look like a swamp with hippos in it with grass stems made of angelica, and an even more marvellous one in the shape of Blickling Hall. When my boy, then boys, started to have birthday cakes I made it a point of principle always to make the cake myself. The cooking I can manage, more-or-less. (I struggle with tin sizes. You can’t buy a new tin for every cake, but why are cake recipes apparently never designed for the tins I happen to have?) The decorating, however, is a headache.

My sons have wonderful faith in my ability to produce cakes in the shape of the Gup-X or a spinosaurus or Batman or whatever. I rarely attempt anything quite that fancy. However, for Hugh’s party tomorrow I thought I would have a go at a castle. Three separate cakes (one of them – shh – a Betty Crocker instant mix) and a bit of a disaster with the buttercream later we now have this:


It is, I think, recognisably a castle. Inside it has alternating layers of chocolate and madeira cake, partly to make it tall enough and partly to satisfy Hugh’s friend Douglas, who, I was told by Hugh, requires something with “chocolate and lots of sugar”. But Blickling Hall it ain’t. Sigh.

Meanwhile, here is Hugh modelling the fabulous cardigan that my mother made him. That’s a triceratops on the right and a diplodocus on the left.

P.S. Since my mother is my mother I don’t feel I have to compete with her and I certainly don’t resent her talents. It’s only in the slightly competitive atmosphere of party-giving that I wish I had inherited a few more of them. I do have talents of my own, of course; but I have to work quite hard to engineer opportunities to show off to the other mums how well I translate from Old English…


2 thoughts on “Grandma wins

  1. Helen Conrad-O'Briain

    Make everyone sing happy birthday in Latin should any remarks be heard in the parents’ gallery.
    I don’t think I ever made a cake for Alice: Bewley’s made a smashing chocolate on chocolate in those days.
    The sweater is, however, nothing short of amazing. I’ll have to pull my grandmotherly socks up, so to speak.

  2. Katimum

    I am very relieved the cardigan fits – I took so long making it that it had to be craftily extended as the Grandson was growing faster than the knitting. I think, by the by, that you are remembering ‘Blickling Hall’ with the rosy glow of hindsight. I remember it as being decidedly wonky.

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