My mum always used to make my birthday cakes and, brat that I was, I would always complain that I would have preferred a shop bought cake like all my friends. I craved the tooth decaying sweetness of factory made sugar paste icing, the neon bright colours only a bucket load of E numbers can create and branding that would shame the Disney corporation. What I didn't want was my mum's half sunken creation coated in wobbly icing declaring Happy Birthday.
Which is why it is rather a nuisance that as a grown up I am somewhat addicted to baking. I am glued to every series of The Great British Bake Off and it is dangerous to let me and a credit card loose in Lakeland. I can't get enough of their pretty cupcake cases, I lust after their icing turntables, their innovative Push Pan was the answer to my cheesecake dilemmas and now I have to physically restrain myself from ordering their entire Christmas baking range.
The problem is memories of my own mortification when instead of presenting me with the Mr Kipling creation I craved my mum insisted on cooking for me raise themselves like evil spectres every time I present my boys with a slice of home made cake.
To be honest they have become a little blase and to them coming home to a house scented with cooling cake is pretty normal. In fact when I asked my little twin what he wanted as a present when I got back from a recent trip to New York his one word answer was: "Cake". But I worry that while I love nothing more than creaming butter and sugar, whipping eggs and smoothing icing, my boys long for garishly coloured creations direct from the shelves of the supermarket.
Which is why I was so gratified that after demolishing a chocolate chip loaf cake last night, both the older boys declared that they hated shop bought cakes as they just tasted horrible. Clearly my children have far more sophisticated tastes than I did in childhood. But it did make me feel warm inside that my own hobby does give them the pleasure I hoped it would.
Though they are my worst critics and should I make a slip up the are quick to tell me so. My son begged me for a chocolate cake for his birthday, but after slaving over the horribly complicated recipe, he proceeded to pick off all the icing, declaring it too rich for his tastes. My other boy was just as bad as after requesting a chocolate orange cake - not the easiest thing to create - he then decided that he didn't really like the flavour of chocolates and oranges. Grrr. It's almost enough to have me buying up a nice cardboard flavoured character cake for them next year.