The Fresser

Why I wish I'd never started making novelty birthday cakes for my kids

Israeli super chef Yotam Ottolenghi shared Twitter pics of his son's 6th birthday cake earlier this month, and it made me smile, but here's why he shouldn't go down that road.

January 31, 2019 12:26

Recently, super chef, Yotam Ottolenghi shared a picture of his son’s birthday cake.


The tiny window into his personal world made me smile for a number of reasons:

  1. It appears that children’s birthday cakes are the one thing in the world (food-related) on which he and I may be on a par. 
  2. He’s man enough to show post his birthday cake. Bravo to him for sharing the cute Lego cake positively brimming with a father’s love. Picture proof that Yotam is a parent, just like us. (If we were all super talented world-famous chefs.)
  3. I’m not the only parent who has fallen into the birthday cake decorating trap. But what company to be in.

I don’t want to rain on his parade, but I feel duty-bound to issue a word of warning to our favourite Israeli chef. Personalised cakes may seem the only way to go when your two are tots, but fast forward a few years (my offspring are now eight and 10) and it’s an annual noose. They now feel entitled to spend hours planning their cakes — not only the look but the flavours of sponge and buttercream. (The fact is they either get chocolate or vanilla sponge (maybe chocolate mint at a push) and white chocolate or vanilla buttercream. End of.

Why get into that whole schtick? Especially when (I imagine) he could commission the cake of their dreams from eager cake artists (have I just coined a term?) lining up to bake for him.

I’ve spent (too many) hours creating Lightning McQueen (above); Doc McStuffin’s glittery bag and even Bucky — Jake and the Neverland Pirates' entire ship; (unless you have had children in the last decade, you may need to consult Google at this point.) Can they remember them? Can they heck. Hours of my life gone – to impress who? The other mums — and Instagrammers? And now JC readers.

If it wasn’t for photographic evidence those confections would be long-forgotten. I can't even find pics of Bucky, so those efforts were pretty pointless. The late night cake carving and fondant fiddling would have been for nothing. A true labour of love.  

My advice is not to go there — or risk years of late night fondant freak outs. By all means bake a delicious cake — because who wouldn’t want an Ottolenghi home-baked cake for their birthday — but keep it simple and save those kitchen hours for the delicious dishes we love you for.

January 31, 2019 12:26

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