For me, it is a gift to my children that cannot be measured. It says, “I know I’m often busy, but I love you very much – and I baked a cake to prove it”.
This – as a statement in itself – is pathetic and I know it. (I do do other things to prove my love to my children, like talking to them, hugging them, kissing them and generally looking after them to the best of my ability).
Actually, it’s probably more to do with compensating for the fact that I am often busy and cannot collect them from school or, on occasion, go to the school assemblies/special productions or workshops.
But it is important to me, and hopefully my children, that this small gesture is carried out each year. My guess is that they don’t care where their cake comes from, so long as there is one, but I love discussing the theme of it and having a go at decorating it.
I’ve done a handbag, Ariel, chocolate explosion, football pitch – or scoured the internet for a topper that they wanted.
It usually ends up costing two or three times the amount of a shop-bought cake. But I don’t mind. I hate the taste of the ready-made supermarket cakes. They are too sweet and I don’t like the jam and buttercream in them.
This year, the (shop-bought – I’m not totally mad) fondant was a disaster: too soft and it wouldn’t mould at all. In a panic, I dashed to the cakemaking supply shop and was told in supercilious tones that I needed gum tragapanth. The assistant might as well have rolled her eyes in disgust when I explained I had no idea what she as talking about.
Anyway, this magic powder, once kneaded into the sticky fondant, transforms it into something mouldable and easy to work with. And, reader, I am delighted to tell you that it worked a dream.
It put me 24 hours behind schedule because you have to allow the time for the alchemy to work. The jewellery box cake had all the hallmarks of a homemade confection: it was slightly wobbly; the fondant cracked on the sides and I rolled it out in such a way that it didn’t quite fit in parts. My cutting skills also leave a lot to be desired.
But it was made with 100 per cent love for my not-so-little girl – and she loved it.