A New Mama’s Greatest Fear Unravelled

10 Dec

I’ve been avoiding it for years now.  And with the few failed attempts I’ve made to overcome my fear – it hovers over and around me like an annoying mosquito.  It ain’t going anywhere.  There is no escape.  I must confess:  I suck at baking.

I would’ve happily continued to dodge the bullet but the subtle warnings were starting to tell me that my time of denial is up.  I foolishly thought that I still had ample opportunity to start building that all-important mummy criteria of getting creative with batter, flour, eggs and electric mixers. But in a blink of an eye-lid, the twins’ first birthday is drawing nigh.  In fact, it’s happening in less than 7 weeks (eeks !).

Thanks to a conversation with a mum at my local play group (Lucky for her, she shall remain nameless), I was “kindly” reminded that, “I better get cracking.”  Hence, I have hit the panic button.

It all started quite innocently.  It was only my second attendance at play group so I was still working my way around –  keen to make mummy friends.  As I happened to be chatting with the mother who baked the lemon sponge cake that had been provided for morning tea, I thought I would be polite and complimented how tasty it was.  Then, (stupidly) I mentioned my own lack of skill in the baking department.

“Really ?  But aren’t the boys turning one soon ?” she asked.  “What are you going to do ?  Are you going to have one cake or two ?  Are you just going to have a numbers cake ?  Or are you going to do a themed one ?  How about a Thomas the Tank Engine cake ?  Did you think about using M&M’s as cake decoration ?”

As she bombarded me with question after question, I felt I was sinking further and further into my inadequate replies of: “Uh, I dunno…” and “Um, I hadn’t thought about it…”

It didn’t take long for the pressure, kinda like a grand piano, to lie heavily on my shoulders.

Yes, yes, I can just imagine some readers rolling their eyes right now.  You all think I’m being a drama queen. But seriously.  Have you heard of anyone messing up a White Wings Baking Packet Mix…continuously ?  And I don’t mean a chocolate cake being “a little uncooked in the centre ” or a tray of brownies being “a little too dry around the edges”.  I’m talking about a brown, chunky, misshapen cube that was seriously singed and burnt on one side and completely goopy and sloppy on the other.

With one charred tin of chocolate cake, I was so appalled with the result that I was ready to throw it out.  Instead, my husband actually ate it.  The whole thing.  I kid you not.  He even had some for breakfast.  For a fleeting moment, I actually thought that the oven and I had finally become firm friends.  Then, I smartened up quickly and realised that with his undying passion for cakes, desserts and all things sweet (including me…haha), he was just surrendering to his sugar addiction.  I was back to square one.

I have even taken the mentality that with every problem, there is bound to be a solution. Yesterday, I trudged over to the local library and picked up some Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cakes recipe books.  But as I flicked through the pages, the more daunting it became; ice cream cake echidnas, jam roll choo-choo trains, vanilla sponge cake pirate ships.  I plan to return the books tomorrow.

I can hear you all shouting the alternatives: “Buy the god damn cake !” “Get Nulla Nanna to bake one !” “Have an Indonesian curry themed birthday party !”  And I have seriously thought about all these options.

But here’s the thing: Even if I exempt myself from the tedious task this time; I will eventually have to learn how to bake…and master at least one type of cake or cookie.

To all my mummy friends that not only bake with confidence, but are also loved by their munchkins for the scrumptious sweet treats that they provide…I truly envy you.

Dream Cake: What I would love to be able to make for my boys' 1st birthday

Reality Cake: What I will most likely bake...


12 Responses to “A New Mama’s Greatest Fear Unravelled”

  1. Jen December 11, 2010 at 12:10 am #

    Oh Grace! I feel like you when all the stay at home Mums start showing off the cute designer outfits they sewed for their kids. My sewing is like your baking! You just go to the wrong playgroup. At our school’s “cake stall for the election booth”, more than half the cakes donated were “Woollies Chocolate Mud”. I got 2 for $1 because they could hardly give them away. Too many working Mums where we live. P.S. I did actually bake cookies for the cake stall. I can’t do big cakes very well either, but I can do cookies!

  2. mamagrace71 December 11, 2010 at 10:50 am #

    Oh Jen, you hit my other sore spot: sewing ! I can barely do a button.

    I hear what you say about going to another play group. Thing is, this one is walking distance, which is perfect for traveling with twins. I’m going to another one next week. Fingers crossed.

    And that’s the other thing I’m terrified of: Being asked to bake for a school fete or end of year class party. At least you can do cookies. I’m screwed…

    Thanks for dropping by and reading x

  3. Christine December 12, 2010 at 9:54 pm #

    Grace!! I could totally teach you to bake. But seriously, I make mistakes all the time… I’m meant to be making cupcakes for a meeting tomorrow for some friends. Firstly, I used packet mix (which i do a lot of the time by the way.. haha)… Secondly I BADLY burnt them (we’re talking like, dead black here.. hahah). Fortunately I only burnt the first half so hopefully.. less people turn up ? Lol.. But mistakes like this happen all the time to everyone, trust me!

    Seriously tho there are heaaaps of really simple tricks that you can do to make a cake look really pretty easily.. Even if you ‘cheat’ (which i often do.. haha) and just pick up a pre-baked cake and decorate it yourself (like with those edible images – you can find them in coles i think?) — like I did for simon’s birthday cake (http://cookingcrusade.com/2010/11/a-bulldogs-cake/). It’s a really easy way of making a cake look great without any extra work. Even themed candles look great 🙂

    As for that cake that you linked above, is actually quite a simple design. It looks like a two-layer cake with a yellow buttercream, a ‘shell’ border around the top and bottom of the cake (which is made using a star tip when piping the frosting). Then they just used sprinkles, piped Happy Birthday on the cake with a simple icing tip, coloured it and added balloons with icing. It looks complex but its really not too bad.. the theme cakes are the difficult ones because they require you to cut the cake to a specific shape, which I find is pretty hard cos some cakes crumble reaaally easily..

    I laughed when you mentioned those Women’s Weekly Kids Cookbooks…. I have those EXACT books and I love them to death.. I just love looking at the pictures alone because they look so fun to make (even though some of them seem to get quite complex lol). But some of them are superr easy (like the giraffe cake) — the only one i’ve made so far haha.

    Anyway! So what date is the boys’ birthday exactly? I will definitely be making them something to bring (i love doing kids’ cakes because they are so fun.. and i have so little opportunity to work on them!)… Do they have any particular toys/interests going on at the moment? Let me know ! 😀 (hopefully something that won’t exceed my abilities tho.. lol…)

  4. mamagrace71 December 13, 2010 at 9:20 am #

    Bless you, Christine ! You are too gorgeous and thank you for offering to teach me how to bake. I will take you up on it…once we fix our oven. Lol.

    I love how you wrote a huge paragraph how easy my fantasy cake is to bake. I really think you have a talent with your baking and cooking. I can’t believe that you would ever burn cupcakes or make a mistake.

    I definitely need tips…especially on cake decorating. In Tokyo, my friends and I would get together towards Christmas for a Gingerbread House party. The idea was to decorate these pre baked Gingerbread houses and put you “creation” under the tree. We had all sorts of stuff to decorate with -M&M’s, chocolate stick biscuits, freckles…everything. Mine always turned out to be a disaster. Lol.

    The boys turn 1 on the 28th of January. Their interests are: climbing all over me, giving me a heart attack each time they donk their head, fighting over the remote or anything with buttons…lol.

    They are loving the outdoors, especially the beach. I think their Papa is hoping that they will be avid suffers like him.

    Have a great week and thanks for your gorgeous message x

    • mamagrace71 December 13, 2010 at 3:19 pm #

      Oops, Christine…that was supposed to say “avid surfers”…typo…but I guess you knew that 🙂

    • Christine December 17, 2010 at 10:24 am #

      Oh i just thought I should mention.. I use that white wings brownies packet mix ALL THE TIME seriously.. it is the best! i have tried countless recipes but it always works out better (plus i mean.. you just throw butter, egg and water in the mix.. soo easy.) i hate to be a product pusher but i am a big fan.. (also ive tried other brownie mixes and they’re all pretty much crap) haha.

      speaking of tips, i have a new post on an easy tip for cake decorating! http://cookingcrusade.com/2010/12/fun-with-strawberries/

      thank you for the ideas! i have some things in mind and i am looking forward to their birthday :D:D

      • mamagrace71 December 17, 2010 at 10:46 pm #

        Those strawberries look amazing ! Everything on your blog just looks scrumptious !

  5. Melissa Bannan December 13, 2010 at 2:43 pm #

    I ‘am’ a baker, but I know many who are not!

    Advise for the non baking Mums when it comes to 1st bday partys for their kids.

    Go to coles/woolies and get a slab cake.
    Cut slab into shape of # 1
    Ice and decorate as you like

    Hey presto!

    Sallie did this a few weeks ago, she followed my exact advise, get licorish strips and make a train track along the top, buy a thomas small toy and put it on the tracks, decorate the sides with smarties, sprinkles whatever you like…

    Cant wait to see pics of your cake, hope its better than your firsat attempt, so funny!

    • mamagrace71 December 13, 2010 at 3:20 pm #

      Great idea ! Really…how hard can it be, right ???

  6. Melissa Bannan December 13, 2010 at 2:45 pm #

    Great beach cake is to get a tub of premium icecream, you know the 1ltr ones? Roll in crushed biscuits to create a ‘sand castle’, place on tray and spead crushed biscuits all around to create beach, decorate with tiny cocktail umbrellas, aussie flags, seashell chocolates etc

    • mamagrace71 December 13, 2010 at 3:22 pm #

      Love this idea too ! Maybe I’ll make some Indonesia flags and stick those on the cake too 🙂


  1. A Huge Slice of Gratitude with a Sprinkle of Promotion | Mamagrace71's Blog - February 9, 2011

    […] I think most of you are well aware of my *ahem* lack of baking skills.  I wrote a post about it and received some lovely comments of encouragement and understanding.  I had Mama friends […]

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