As the birthday itself was on Tuesday we decided to hold the Big Birthday Sleepover on Saturday. Nine teenage girls descended on Walton’s Mountain and larked about in the over sized paddling pool and enjoyed some rare and much appreciated sunshine. There is something about the sound of girly giggling and the splashing of water that could make the hardest of hearts raise a smile. I found myself grinning as I pottered about in the kitchen preparing their birthday buffet for the evening and giving my all to the cake.
It had to be chocolate of course. Have we ever had a birthday cake here that hasn’t been this flavour when it comes to my girl? Last year I went for a sort of all out death by chocolate, pile it all on and scoff the lot look. This time I was determined to add just a wee bit of sophistication to the chocolaty mass, oh I still had to have the basics, a triple layer cake with chocolate cream fillings and the fun things like chocolate fingers incorporated into the décor, but I decided to top the whole thing off with a mass of bright red juicy summer berries, a sprinkling of sparkly sugar and candles stuck into the strawberries instead of the usual plastic candle holders. The girls loved it, it tasted great, and best compliment of all was the tiny scattering of crumbs and sugar crystals where the cake had stood so proudly just half an hour before.
Sleepover is a strange term, they just don’t seem to close their eyes till the wee small hours when nature overcomes even the most determined teenager on a high of fizzy pop and too many sweets. From my place of eviction (my room upstairs) I could hear the laughter and chat wafting upwards long into the night. In the morning I encountered what looked like the body count after a small natural disaster, ten sprawled figures wrapped in an assortment of coloured blankets laid out on the living room floor. I stepped gingerly over them as I made my way to the kitchen to set out their croissants, breads, jams and jellies and slope back to bed with a mug of tea and a pinched croissant for myself.
I feel blessed that her friends are such a good bunch. They are respectful and polite, fun, frivolous and creative. They love their comic characters, TV heroes and an odd assortment of music. Drawing, crafting, photos and doodling are the order of the day. They arrived like a whirlwind of presents, sleeping bags, sweets and fun, and left with bleary eyes and carrying less baggage after clearing away all traces of the night before and leaving only the remnants of a party popper dangling from the light fitting.
Tuesday brought the day itself and my girl agreed that she was not too old for the Birthday Badger story and opening her prezzies at the foot of my bed. One of the characters Idgy has loved for years has been Rainbow Dash, so it was a foregone conclusion that a big plushy version had to be part of her gift. It breaks my heart to think that she is growing up so fast, maybe this is the last of the soft toys, I don’t know, but I savoured every moment of the prezzies on the bed, then shared breakfast in the kitchen and waved her off to school. The words of the Abba song “Slipping Through My Fingers” and memories of Meryl Streep singing it in Mamma Mia! As she prepares her daughter for her wedding day, echoed in my head. Yes I sat down with a cup of coffee and shed a tear when she left, time passes way too fast sometimes.
Birthday Chocolate Cake
- 2 squares of milk chocolate
- 2 squares of dark chocolate
- 125 g/4 ½ oz softened butter
- 125 g/ 4 ½ oz caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon golden syrup
- 125 g/ 4 ½ oz self raising flour
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder sifted
- Filling and Topping
- 125 g/4 ½ oz chocolate mix of milk and dark
- 10 tablespoons icing sugar
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons Nutella
- Chocolate finger biscuits
- Strawberries and raspberries
- Melted chocolate to drizzle
- Scattering of sparkly crystal sugar
- Preheat oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5
- Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or microwave and pour into a large bowl along with all the other cake ingredients and whizz together with your mixer until everything is well combined.
- Divide the mixture into three small lightly greased baking tins, or use two 18cm/7” pans for a normal two layer cake. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean and the cake bounces back when you press it lightly in the centre.
- Cool for 5 minutes before removing from tins and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack.
- Melt the chocolate for the filling/topping (reserve a little for final decoration) and add it to a bowl along with the other ingredients and mix well to form a workable paste to your liking. Add more icing sugar as needed. Spread between layers of the cake and all over the assembled piece.
- Chop ends off the chocolate finger biscuits so they are the correct height to stand around the side of the cake and press into place all around. Pile up the berries on top, drizzle with the remaining melted chocolate and scatter over the sugar, stick the candles straight into the strawberries.
- Light the candles and sing your heart out!
Yet more belated birthday wishes to my wonderful girl.
Love you loads.