The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

6 Years Old!

My boy turns six very soon, and we held a celebration on Saturday with some of his friends. Last year's celebration - just a month before my girl's birth - was supposed to be the final one for a couple of years, as I wasn't sure how capable I would be to do one while caring for an infant. But mother's guilt got to me. Especially after my son - who has been counting down the days to his birthday for the past two months - said that he was looking forward to playing with his friends on the bouncy castle and the ride-on cars. I did tell him that I might not be able to do it this year, as we will be hopping on the plane the day after his birthday, and he accepted this with astounding maturity. I decided to put myself to the test anyway, and organised a somewhat last minute birthday party for my son (invites were sent out only two weeks prior). As with previous years, I hired a bouncy castle and a couple of ride-on cars (but I have a feeling that this will be my last time doing a party in this format as my boy will outgrow the rental toys by next birthday). The weather was perfect (the weather forecast for early showers did not eventuate), there was plenty of food for everyone (phew!), and the kids had loads of fun.

Hired out our residence's barbecue court, and some rental bouncy castle and ride-on cars:

As for the boy's cake, it was a no-brainer decision to do a Star Wars themed cake as that is his current obsession (thanks to hubby). In the week before the party, I found out that one of his little friends has allergies to eggs, dairy and gluten, and along with my boy's nut allergy, I had the gargantuan task of making a cake that would suit them. Hubby said from the beginning that I should to stick to my plan to bake the usual cake and make some gluten-free cupcakes for the little friend, but I hate excluding anyone with special requirements (having dealt with it myself for almost six years), at least not without giving it a go first. So I tried making a gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free and nut-free cake, but unfortunately the cake mix I used wasn't suitable for a large cake - it was fudgy and moist in the centre even after two hours of baking (hence the standard toothpick test indicated the cake was not cooked) but the edges had baked rock hard. With so little time, I ditched the idea of making a gluten-free Darth Vader cake, and made gluten-free cupcakes instead. Instead of building the cake from scratch, I ordered a Darth Vader cake pan from the US to help make my life a bit easier. The decorating instructions that came with the cake pan proved too fiddly, so I decorated it the way I felt comfortable with. For the cake, I used the tried-and-true Chocolate Butter Cake recipe from joyofbaking that I've successfully used for previous birthday cakes, and it baked beautifully in the cake pan (much to my relief, as the party was on the next day!). For the frosting, I started off with a chocolate buttercream (using 1 cup butter, 3 cups icing sugar, 3/4 cup cocoa powder and 4-5 tablespoons milk) and tinted it with about eight drops of black Americolor food colouring. This gave a dark enough colour without affecting the flavour nor give people coloured teeth. Then I frosted the cake with a frosting spatula and piped the details on with a piping bag and tips. For a rushed job, it didn't turn out too badly. The boy was pleased with the cake, and there wasn't much leftover - success!

Darth Vader cake, decorated my way:

The gluten-free cupcakes were a hit with the little boy who is allergic to gluten, eggs and dairy! His mum said she had never seen him polish off anything so quickly before:

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