I always felt ripped off by the Monday’s Child nursery rhyme. Monday’s and Tuesday’s children were off swanning around being graceful and attractive, hanging out as usual at Friday’s child’s house as they throw another party for Sunday’s child, while poor Wednesday’s child was at home weeping into a cup of Ovaltine.
I was admittedly consoled by the fact that Thursday’s child had lost their bus pass again and Saturday’s child was working a double shift, and it it possible I may have been overly sensitised due to also being a little girl with little curls and thus apparently very, very horrid , but it nonetheless felt that Wednesday’s child drew the particularly short straw in this situation.
Despite living a life of horrid woe, as a child of summer I’ve at least been able to celebrate my birthday at a time of year when the living is easy, the fish are jumping and the cotton is high.
Another child of summer – a boy of summer, if you will – is my BFF C’s little boy who celebrated his very first birthday last January and had a suitably beachy party thrown for him. I was given the honour of making his first ever birthday cake, and I thought it worthwhile sharing the fruits of my googling, planning and baking efforts with you on this first day of summer in case you have a summer’s child, woeful or otherwise, who needs to be taught that sand tastes like biscuits.
I knew I’d need a super stable icing, given the stinking hot weather at the time, plus I needed to make sure any eggs I used were not going to be left raw as I knew there would be hungry pregnant ladies at the party, so it was a no-brainer to make a batch of my favourite Swiss Meringue Buttercream (as usual, using the recipes and tips from here and here). To be fair, none of the hungry pregnant ladies asked about possible salmonella risks so I don’t know how big a deal it really is, but at least I could feel confident that I was only increasing their risk of gestational diabetes.
Not long after creating the ocean, some biscuit sand washed in to create the beach, and next thing I knew it was covered in Tiny Teddies. Where’s Tony Abbott when you need him? Luckily the teddies brought their own fruit strap beach towels (complete with tassels which you can’t actually see!) and (non Australian Standards) lolly floaties.
The tree fronds were a green-tinted royal icing piped into frondy shapes on baking paper which I then draped over round things like coffee tins and Tupperware containers. Most of them then slid off onto each other, so I swore a lot and tried it again with a series of bracing structures around the round things and other non-round things acting as paperweights on the baking paper. It was as convoluted and messy as it sounds, mostly because I wasn’t quite sure what shape I’d need so I made many, many fronds of differing shape and size to hedge (frond?) my bets.
The tree trunk was much easier – slightly melting Rolos or Dairy Milk rounds onto each other in a trunk shape and eating the remainder of the packet. The coconuts were possibly the most irritating part of the whole tree construction, as I drove down to the servo in the middle of the night to buy the Maltesers, battling the shift workers buying pies and young crew stocking up on munchies snacks, only to return home and find the Maltesers all white and scabby looking. Ugh.
The jetty soon took over in the annoying stakes, proving to be another exercise in having to brace components while waiting for the royal icing to dry. I really need to build myself some sort of kitchen work bench with vices and clips. The jetty was made of pretzel sticks, with musk sticks planting it firmly into the sea bed. I made the steps a little too large for the teddies’ tiny legs, but this was probably for the best given the lemming-esque nature of the jetty placement. No one wants mass teddy suicide on their birthday.
The cake itself was a quadruple layer butter cake to try and create a sunset type effect. The top layer was vanilla, the second yellow layer was lemony, and the bottom two had a touch of orange zest and juice. I kept the layering icing as white instead of blue as I figured this would look better and it’s probably best to limit your daily intake of bright blue foodstuffs.
And smiles, if you happen to be Wednesday’s child. Now if you’ll excuse me, my Ovaltine is going cold.