About two weeks ago my little brother celebrated his first birthday, and as such I had the pleasure of heading home to Canberra to attend his very first birthday party. The party was held on a lovely Saturday afternoon, there were balloons, presents, lollies for all, and glasses of champagne on offer for the older guests too. The younger attendees enjoyed a few giddy hours playing in the backyard with a bubble machine, while the grown ups enjoyed a very civilised afternoon tea and a relaxing drink in the sun. Birthday Boy had a fantastic day (despite being completely unaware that all of the excitement was in his honour) and I spent the day in awe of my talented little brother's new and exciting abilities. He stands up all on his own now, babbles away in a most conversational manner, and to my sheer amazement offers to share his food! Bless his little heart.
The event was a great success, in part due to my Stepmum's seemingly innate skill for entertaining, and in part due to the inaugural First Birthday Cake, prepared by my Dad. Dad is a fantastic cook, and his roast dinners, freshly caught fish, pastas and delicious deserts have fostered my love of food for as long as I can remember. Birthday Boy's cake was up to his usual standard (and absolutely huge - the photos don't do it justice!) and I'm going to share the recipe with you here. It is adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe that I *think* can be found in his first book, The Naked Chef. I haven't been able to find it online so I reproduce it for you here:
What you will need:
- 200g caster sugar
- 200g butter
- 200g flour
- 4 tablespoons cocoa
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
For the filling:
- 200ml whipped cream
- Fruit jam or fresh berries if desired
What you will need to do:
1. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, flour, baking powder and cocoa and beat with an electric mixer until the batter is smooth. Finally, stir through the slivered almonds.
2. Divide the mixture evenly across two 20cm spring form cake tins and bake for approximately 20 minutes.
3. Remove the cakes from oven, allow to cool completely before removing them from cake tins. Cover one cake with whipped cream and any jam or fruits that you would like to include, then carefully place the second cake on top of the first. Refrigerate the lot for at least half an hour before icing.
Apparently the original Jamie recipe calls for a runny chocolate drizzle icing. Given that many of the attendees at this particular party were under the age of three and likely to make a mess, Dad opted for a creamy dark chocolate icing that didn't so much drizzle as meld to the cake like delicious chocolate cement. I could wax lyrical about how marvellous the cake tasted, but I think the demolition-style 'after' shot speaks for itself...
Children's birthday parties always stir in me a strange sense of melancholy. A nostalgia for barely remembered parties of the past perhaps, or maybe I'm just so hopelessly emotional that any sort of happy family moment makes me feel a little weepy. Which leads me to my musical segue for this post. Listen to these girls, they are sisters - sixteen and eighteen years old - and they are divine. Melancholy, naive, and with adorable Jens Lekman-esque accents that seem somehow at odds with their startlingly strong voices. This is the second post in a row where I've featured them -I'm ever so slightly besotted, and I think everyone should rush out and buy their new EP: Drunken Trees. First Aid Kit have stolen my heart.