This is doubly embarrassing as not only my mother, but also my grandmother, have been fabulous chefs in their time. My mother still is and as a former teacher at her own cookery school in the 70s, 80s and 90s easily puts some of my culinary efforts to shame (in truth she limits herself during visits to interfering when Other Half is on cooking duty, which sees me variously acting as referee, supportive spouse, or dutiful daughter, with my father in the role of back-up judge. It's a thin line, believe me).
Not that I have ever poisoned anyone, but hey, dinner guests may just have been polite in the past.
My mother's cakes and desserts are often the true 'proof in the pudding', a culmination of all the other preceding courses which would leave you salivating at the mere description.
Now, were any of my children to ask for a 'melanzana parmiggiana' or a plate of 'spaghetti alla puttanesca', or even 'carciofi alla romana', as a birthday substitute in place of a cake - voila'! - I would not even need to look so much as sniff at a cooking book for ingredients and instructions.
It is therefore with great pride that I can announce - and display - the following birthday cake concocted especially for Widget's fourth birthday today:
What would typically take my girlfriend Lady P (another amazing cake-maker, she is not a godmother to my eldest for nothing) probably no more than 20 mins to whip up, took me the best part of 3 hours. Over two days. With help from the children.
And yes, this is a mere Victoria sponge with some icing on the top to allow me to sprinkle the 100s and 1000s and ensure they stuck in place.
The good news? The candles, when inserted, stayed put. Even when blown out by a camaraderie of siblings. Twice.
The bad news? Actually none. It was even vaguely edible. However the mini chocolate muffins that Other Half bought (under the pretext of "getting some beer for the fathers") seemed far more desirable to all the children.
Sometimes you just cannot win. Guess I get points for trying though.
Happy birthday Widget xx
P.S. personally I blame the career aspect and choosing to follow this path more avidly than that of domesticity... having said that, M&S probably would have served my needs better, left me roughly quids up on the money front, and the young guests none the wiser. Isn't that what it's for?