Thursday, 4 June 2009

Lower your expectations woman!

Why oh why do I try to make everything PERFECT?? It always kicks me up the backside in the end, doesn't it? If I just lowered my expectations a bit, life would be so much easier! I tried to make my daughter's first birthday special and lovely and to her, it was. My Hubby and I both got up with her at ridiculous o'clock yesterday and we had present opening and a lovely morning. Hubby took most of the day off work, my mum was here from the US and it was mostly a good day. But then I tried to make a cake! Where I live there's not a bakery in sight. Nothing to tempt us with fresh scones, yummy tarts, scrummy cakes and gooey doughnuts. This probably is a good thing, really but it didn't help me out much yesterday. In an effort to NOT feed my child copious amounts of E-numbers, additives and wretched cake that was made 2 months ago, I decided to forgo the crap store bought cakes for a mix...time was an issue. We slumped off to the inlaws for our usual Wednesday afternoon and I attempted to make the mix into a lovely first birthday cake that my daughter could dive into face first. It turned into a total disaster. MIL's oven was a bit hot so the cake was nicely browned and the inside was still nicely liquid. We turned down the oven, covered the cake with foil and let it sit for a bit before transferring it back to the oven. After doing this and letting it bake for a bit I pulled it out to find a nice crater in the middle of the cake. Leaving it out on the counter and then putting it back in the oven was not the best of ideas. However, it was now cooked. I had assumed that my MIL would have icing sugar so I could do a quick icing but as she no longer bakes, there was no icing sugar or jam for the sponge. I shuffled back home, waiting for long trains and roadworks along the way and arrived back home to realise that my husband had the house key. Arghhhh! I had to go to one of the neighbours, who always keeps a spare for us, and let myself into the house. I whipped up some nice BRIGHT PINK icing in a bowl, grabbed the jam from the fridge and shuffled back to the inlaws (no train this time). When cutting the cake to put jam in between the layers I discovered the full extent of the crater...all the way through the cake! Not only was the hole complete but the cake had stuck to the dish so it was all crumbly and horrible on the outside. No amount of pink royal icing was going to cover it (I needed butter cream!)...It became a soggy, crusty pink nightmare. I dutifully stuck pink, purple and white candles on it and just decided "what the ****". My Little Miss, when presented with the candle topped pink disaster, scrunched back in her high chair and gazed at the wonderment with minor disgust...perhaps it was the flames coming towards her?? I presented her with a mangled piece of rubbish which she dutifully mashed into the tray of her high chair. She liked the icing anyway! I'm going to attempt to redeem myself for the weekend party...please wish me luck for that venture. I was only trying to make it special...why do I do this? I put unrealistic expectations on myself and everyone else because I want it to be memorable. Well, it was, but obviously for the wrong reasons. I know I just need to lower my expectations but that's hard when you're a late 30-something Mummy who's a bit more than an over-achiever. My Little Miss had a brilliant day, got lots of presents and love and never knew the difference. She's never seen a WONDER CAKE. She doesn't know what cake SHOULD be like. It was gooey and mushy and nicely sweet and Mummy gave it to her and that's all that matters. That should be enough for me! I'll try to remember this when the next major event comes around. Sigh...


  1. I'm sure she loved it. I look on my (many) failed cakes as practice runs for the time when they will actually remember them.

  2. "Being happy doesn't mean everything is perfect. It means that you've decided to look beyond the imperfections."

    That quote has majorly helped me. I'm a massive perfectionist and get very unhappy when things don't "turn out" the way I plan them - whereas things in reality are actually perfectly fine and well and no one knows the difference anyway.

    Don't stress yourself out - and buy a back up cake ;)

  3. Cheers ladies! I'm doing better today. I BOUGHT sponge mix and followed the directions and baked very nice fairy cakes for our girls' joint party tomorrow. Success. :)

  4. Karin, your story scares me because I just decided yesterday that I was going to actually bake a cake for Cole's bday party on Saturday, rather than get the typical store-bought one. :) Maybe I should do a practice run first! LOL

  5. You do it because you're a mum and want them to be happy in every way. I remember being very stressed out when preg. with #3, feeling I wasn't doing enough for the other 2 (feeling more than a bit depressed too) My lovely Ma told me not to worry, they just want to be with you...stick telly on, give them beans for tea once in a while, give them a big cuddle and life will be good for them. My Great Auntie Anne used to buy her grandaughter's cake from M&S every year (didn't tell her though, she thought it was home made!)

  6. Cheers Dana and Katherine!
    Dana...I highly recommend a trial run if you're nervous. 2 of my friends did that and ended up with gorgeous cakes. In the UK the big trend is really professional icing/frosting and decorations. I don't do this...I'm just a frosting/icing girl with sprinkles. My daughter will learn this.

    Katherine...thanks for the advice- very sounds and very true. I'm going to learn how to bake a sponge cake properly and that will be the extent of my cake baking. Jane Asher need not worry! :)