Why a Great Birthday Cake is Worth the Effort!
At this time of year my husband and I always begin to take deep breaths as we brace ourselves for what we call our “party season” – our family of four has birthdays falling within an 11 week period of each other – and the rounds of lists, meetings with agendas, consultations and invitation decisions that go with it.
Of course, we are very much aware that the only parties that really matter (barring the odd milestone celebration) are for the two under 10s in the family.
And topping every “to do” list is Birthday Cake! Here’s why.
1. Bragging Rights
Children – quite rightly – want bragging rights for their parties. We have reminded ourselves of this annually, particularly in our two sons earlier years, as we sought to create memories; and to ensure that if this year’s party was going to be their first memory, it would be a good one.
Generally speaking, if you can do it and space permits, home-based parties (while involving a good bit more effort), are far more memorable. As numbers rise of course (we have found party size tends to peak at age 6 or so) this isn’t always possible. An amazing cake will always stand out though!
2. Nurturing Through Food
Research bears out that a child’s earliest memory is often food related. The making and giving of food can be perceived as an act of love, providing nurture, comfort, warm feelings and stability, “a safe place” which is so important in childhood.
I always try to ensure that a special family meal marks every birthday occasion, even if the main birthday celebration is taking place outside the home. Playcentres are not noted for their cuisine!
And sometimes we have two cakes (a “feed the masses” one for the main party and a smaller fancier one at home).
3. Creating Family Traditions
Childhood habits often make their way all the way through to adulthood. How often have you heard people talking about their granny’s apple pie, or how much they enjoyed getting to lick the wooden spoon after making cookies or a bread recipe that has been passed down through the generations?
Regardless of culinary skills (my own are fairly rudimentary), we can all make a good stab at a simple cake recipe or cheat with a baking kit and ready-made icing. And all children love to decorate a cake!
4. Emotional Connections
A birthday cake goes even further as it is for one child specifically, to celebrate their special day and reflecting their interests and preferences.
There are deep emotional connections to a birthday cake, where someone has made a significant effort just for you, the cake is the centrepiece and you are surrounded by loved ones who sing Happy Birthday as you blow out your candles. It doesn’t get better!
5. A “Memory Log”
Another great aspect of birthday cakes is the “memory log” they provide of our children’s favourite toys and interests at a particular time. For us, that has included an Angry Birds top iced cake, a Ninjago cake with the favourite character (Kai) transposed on top, and a football playing field cake, among many others. It’s otherwise so easy to forget these things with the passage of time.
Some birthday cake inspiration
The type of cake itself is often much less important than the decoration (we often get vague instructions along the lines of “something chocolatey”) which needs to deliver the “wow” factor.
There are some super online resources to help inspire ideas for a cake with a difference, which you can try out.
With an estimated 6/7% of the population experiencing gluten sensitivities, it’s also a nice touch to have a gluten-free option at your party, alongside your main cake.
There are lots of in-store options from brands such as the Foods of Athenry or Denise’s Delicious Gluten Free or you can try baking your own, there some great recipes on this site.
- The very best gluten-free vanilla cake by Glutenfreeonashoestring.com
- THE chocolate fondant (Gluten Free) by CharlotteIndia.com
As Julia Childs famously said, “A party without a cake is just a meeting”.
So make sure yours is a good one!
About Orla Donohoe
With a background in food marketing, Orla has spent over 20 years observing what we eat and why we eat it. Sign up for free to the myfoodtrends.com blog to find out more.