Sunday 29th March
I am sitting at the kitchen table yesterday afternoon with a friend, Sadie. I tell her excitedly that I’m going to make a Ferrero Rocher cake for our friend, Helen’s, birthday lunch the next day.
I get out my phone and show her a picture of the planned cake. She reads through the recipe, which is more than I’ve done.
“Wow! There are a lot of stages.” she announces.
“Is there?” I say anxiously. Inside I’m cursing myself for not thinking this through. I’m always lured by a pretty picture, the method is an after-thought. Such an approach has got me into many a baking tight spot.
As a consequence, I find myself at 7 o’clock this morning, getting up and switching on the oven. By 7.30am the sponges are baking. Ok it’s 8.30am in the world-that-puts-the-clocks-forward, but to my body it is 7.30am. On a Sunday. This is absolutely unheard of and quite frankly, wrong.
Daisy does a Cleese-esque double take when she’s sees me in the kitchen, still in dressing gown, peering into the oven.
“Mum! It’s so early! You’re always cooking. Don’t you want a break?”
“Yes!” I say, a little too sharply. The thought of Ollie still languishing in my nice warm bed is grating somewhat.
The morning rushes by. We are due to leave at 10.30am, but at that time I have de-bunked to the shed which is the coldest place I can find. I have covered the top of the cake in chocolate fudge icing, then piped on the hazelnut cream (will be making that stuff again!), and placed the Ferrero Rochers on top.
The only problem is the kitchen is like a furnace because the oven’s been in for hours. I turn my back and when I look again, the Ferrero Rochers have slid off in a landslide of chocolate fudge icing.
“Nooooo!!!” I scream, hands to face; so near and yet so far. Hence the move to the shed to reassemble.
At 11am I am panic-stricken. We should be there right now! The cake is done but the kitchen looks like a bomb’s hit it. I call the kids:
“Quickly! Get your shoes and coats on and get into the car!”
“But mum!” cries Daisy, incredulous. “You’re still in your pyjamas!”
“No I’m not!” I respond (why on earth am I lying?!) “It’s just my dressing gown over my clothes.”
“But mum! I can see your pyjama bottoms!”
There’s no getting away from the bleedin’ obvious. I usher the kids into the car, then get dressed in record time.
I give Ollie the present to hold, and Daisy the cake, poor child. She asks me what I’d do if it slid off onto the floor.
“Cry.” Is my one-word answer. At the top of Grapes Hill she nearly put this eventuality to the test. I pull out onto the roundabout too early and slam on my brakes. The cake shoots almost off the board, but it’s not me that cries, but Daisy:
“This is too much, mum! I can’t do this!”
At Helen’s house, Ollie leaps out as instructed and knocks on the front door. He runs back to the car, opens Daisy’s door then shelters the cake with his superman umbrella. What a team.
I park up then race in through the pelting rain. Somehow we are the first to arrive. There’s definitely a punctuality problem in Norwich, even by my standards.
Helen offers me a cup of tea; I’m parched; neither tea nor breakfast have passed my lips yet. As the kettle boils I go to the bathroom, wash my face, and brush my hair.
When I get back, I can hear Sadie exclaiming from the kitchen,
“She actually did it! She made it! Wow!”
I decide then and there that this will be my new approach in future: show someone beforehand the really complicated recipe you’re planning to undertake. Make them read it all through, then when you produce it, they’ll lavish you with all the praise that you so rightly deserve.
Should you wish to try your hand at this exquisite cake, here is the link:
I used Delia’s chocolate fudge icing instead of the Asda cake topper she suggests because I couldn’t get hold of it.