Reuben’s First Birthday: Calamity & Cake
This week Reuben turns one! And with my little man being my first child, it’s meant hosting my first ever birthday party. I’ve had umpteen house warmings and socials and planned my own wedding, but none of this prepared me for the emotional stress of ‘parent perfection’. I’m not particularly competitive but there’s something so primal about vying for the best for your child, and birthday parties, however forgettable at the age of one, make no exception.
Finding a bolt hole to catch my breath and a bite of a chicken nugget from Reuben’s plate, my sister warned me “it’ll be like this every birthday”. With the experience of two, now adult kids, she was right. I may need treatment for the current severity of my anxiety but the essence of parental stress will likely remain. Amongst my emotional mess I’m so far understanding (according to my therapist) I don’t tolerate uncertainty well and to advance myself I need to start figuring what worries are worth worrying about and what can, in all frankness, bugger off.
My party ‘to do list’ grew quite extensive from the get-go and consisting of decoration ideas, seating arrangements and a list of craft projects (birthday crown, birthday vest, bunting), it was all relatively simple but amounted to a huge amount of stress. And I soon realised the biggest job – the birthday cake – was the most daunting. I can enjoy a spot of baking and appreciate the imperfect beauty of homemade, but I knew such a landmark occasion as Reuben’s first birthday called for a pristine masterpiece, something I was most incapable of achieving.
Looking for professional cake makers I came across Bakerdays, a postal cake service that delivers all manner of occasion cakes to your door. From their ingenius letterbox cakes, where miniature perfectly iced cakes are safely posted through the regular mail, to corporate celebration cakes, there seems to be a personalised cake – large or petite – for all cake worthy events.
Bakerdays asked me which cake I’d choose for Reuben’s party, a family gathering where we were expecting over twenty guests. Having looked through their catalogue of First Birthday Cakes and a few other categories I ended up picking a cute teddy themed cake that allowed for plenty personalisation.
The Any Age Birthday Ted cake is a classic circular shaped cake available in four sizes with a variety of cake styles such as lemon drizzle, red velvet, dairy free and good old chocolate. I went for the traditional sponge as it best suited a whole group of tastes plus, when it’s done right, a golden sponge can just be the best. A fairly big family (there were eighteen of us for the party in the end) so the medium sized cake, that serves 18-25 people, was prepared for my order.
Two days before the big day, an enormous box was delivered containing our lovely cake. Like a baby in the womb, pillows of cushioning air pockets surrounded the box within the box, ensuring the safest of journeys.
I kept the cake aside until the moment of unveiling at the party table and a few simple candles were pushed into the icing. The cake glowed in its perfection; its sleek fondant icing and the soft tones of the printed message that made it all the more special.
The quality of the imagery was exceptional and looked really professional. I was thrilled with the result. I hastened to cut the cake because I just wanted to look at it! The personalised words brought the unassumingly simple iced cake alive. ‘Happy first birthday!’ it said, read with the prescribed elation. And Reuben’s name was accompanied by a loud and proud polka dotted number one.
The cake, sliced and passed along a conveyor of keen recipients, was promptly devoured through satisfied sounds of approval. The delicious sponge was mouth wateringly light and moist, with two tempting layers of strawberry jam and buttercream. The soft icing was a generous topping but not too thick so to overwhelm the cake and sweet tasting, but not sickly so. After a savoury mix of party nibbles, the traditional sponge cake was a pretty and tasty treat to end with.
So while the lead up to the party was dominated by stress, thanks to my relentless anxiety and desire to perfect the haphazard nature of a home hosted party (I spent the day remembering too late the food I meant to put out, trying to rescue our petrified house rabbit from an over full living room and balloons sporadically bursting) I think I did alright. Reuben enjoyed himself – he loved all the attention – and the cake, providing much relief to me, was the star of the party table.
Any Age Birthday Ted cake, medium size, costs £37.99. Get it here!
Are you planning your little one’s party? Have you survived the first birthday? Maybe you have techniques to avoid planning stress? Or do you think it gets worse as kids grow up? I’d love to hear your stories and advice!