‘Of course!’ I said, ‘I can make that cake.’
We’d googled animal-themed birthday cakes. We’d used almost our entire monthly data allowance looking at animal cakes on Pinterest. Elsie chose one that had a bit of brown icing and a tiger figurine stuck on it. You beauty, I thought.
But then. Just one more inch of scrolling on Pinterest revealed this:
I thought back to when we sat across from the neonatologist at his desk the day after Elsie was born.
‘I have grave concerns for your daughter’s survival’ he had said. (Read more about Elsie’s arrival at 24 weeks gestation)
I scratched my temple.‘Yep. No. That’s a good cake. You can have that one,’ I said, and they ran outside to play in puddles. First, Elsie and Maeve grabbed a plastic bath toy each to take with them.
‘Ha,’ Elsie said. ‘Here’s the tiger. I could have had that cake!’ And the door slammed.
And I stood at the bench and watched the Cookies Cupcakes and Cardio’s YouTube video of how to spend an entire day using every bowl and spoon that I own. And googling how to make black food colouring (which, you will find, you can’t).
I got out all the food colouring and laid them on the bench.
The lady in the video was using a vanilla cake recipe, but I didn’t want any old vanilla cake, I wanted white chocolate mud cake.
Then Elsie and Maeve came back in and asked if they could play with some flour and water and food colouring in a tray.
I sat them across the bench with a tray each, a jug of water and a bowl of flour and left them to experiment with the colours and consistencies while I googled a good recipe for white chocolate mud cake (which I found here).
I greased and lined my tins. Melted the chocolate. Mixed the ingredients. Poured the batter evenly into my two tins and popped them in the oven.
‘Okay, we’re done. Can you please help us turn on the tap?’ Elsie said.
I turned from closing the oven on my two cakes to see the girls up to their elbows in aqua grey paste and Maeve adding one last very liberal amount of blue food colouring to her ‘slush’.
Oh no. The food colouring! Never mind the mess—I didn’t add the food colouring to the batter.
Silly me, I chortled as the girls backed away from the bench. (Chortled. I just wanted to use that word. I’ll probably never get another chance to use it.)
I got the cakes out of the oven and poured the mixture back into the bowl.
I wiped down the food colouring bottles (and yes, I was the one who knocked over the green).
Oopsadaisy, I laughed as I stood the bottle back up. The girls disappeared to work out themselves how to turn on the tap with slippery hands.
Now here’s my tip if you’re making the leopard cake for your child who loves leopards. Just do as the recipe says. Use the recipe she’s using. The consistency of her vanilla cake batter is like a McDonalds sundae. Piping soft serve ice cream would be fun.
The consistency of white chocolate mud cake batter, on the other hand, is like McDonalds coke. Piping coke and lemonade would not be fun.
And, we can safely guess, not effective.
When the girls deemed it safe to re-enter the kitchen, I warned Elsie that on the inside, her cake was going to look nothing like the cake in the video.
And she knelt with her friends in the new leopard-spotted cape that her little friend gave her that day, and proudly cut the leopard cake.
And no-one need ever have known that it should have had spots on the inside. After all, what leopard does?
(I saw this week in my Facebook memories a link to my blog entry four years ago on Elsie’s 5th birthday when she held my hand for the very first time. If you don’t want to go and do the dishes yet, maybe you’d like to have a read).