How not to make a birthday cake; a fail-safe recipe for domestic disaster

January 24, 2014

Birthday cupcakes


  • My husband’s birthday
  • A sudden desire to make him a surprise birthday cake
  • One oven with a whole range of temperatures (note: the oven in our old flat had two; furnace and off. Not so great for baking, so I’m slightly out of practise *cough*)
  • Two incoming back teeth, one small teethy toddler
  • Assorted builders, scaffolders and plumbers at various points around our house.


  • Decide to make a cake for your husband’s birthday
  • Try not to get offended when you text your mum to tell her, and she replies saying ‘please just buy one from the shop’
  • Go to the shop to buy baking supplies. Nearly forget supplies as buying decorations is much more fun.


1) Gather the ingredients together. Realise you are out of baking soda as you sprinkled it all on the carpets when you moved in (true story; it’s a tip I read on Mumsnet)

2) Try to weigh ingredients, realise the the battery in the weighing scales is dead as one small child has been repeatedly standing on them for fun. Wildly guess at amounts instead

3) Stop to make tea for the various workmen around the house

4) Go to blend ingredients, realise the blender was broken in the house move. Try and fail to locate the hand blender in the newly organised kitchen that you didn’t unpack

5) Text husband to ask him about location of hand blender, thus negating the surprise element of the cake

6) Stop to let the scaffolders walk through the kitchen, with a large amount of scaffolding

7) Attempt to mix everything together with the hand blender, which will result in one screaming child who really, really hates the noise. Add a large helping of bad mum guilt into the bowl

8) Stop to fill up a bucket of water for the builder

9) Resume activity momentarily. Be unable to put koala child down from hip, rendering hand blender difficult to use. Stir in some cries of ‘NOOOO mummy, Peppa’

10) Give up and go back to the shop for cake. Don’t text your mum to tell her this.


  • Globalmouse

    January 24, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Ha ha!!! This is so funny! At least you tried…which is more than I would even do as I am certainly no domestic goddess!! This did make laugh and it does sound much like my home – my daughter runs and hides from the noise of the vacuum cleaner!!

    1. gillian

      January 24, 2014 at 9:32 pm

      I’m so glad it’s not just me! Sometimes it seems like everyone on the internet is amazing at making wonderful, Bake Off-style cakes from scratch. I’m really good at eating cake, though x

  • Fiona

    January 24, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Haha 🙂 this is my favourite type of recipe x

    1. gillian

      January 24, 2014 at 9:33 pm

      I think I’ll just stick to eating cake made by other people in future! Or at least wait until Eliza’s in bed…

  • fritha

    January 24, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    haha brilliant! My friend decided to make her boyfriend muffins for his birthday as they are his favourite and he said ‘thank you for the effort but I really wish you had just bought them’! xx

    1. gillian

      January 24, 2014 at 9:34 pm

      Classic! x

  • Maria Alford

    January 24, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    I made the mistake of trying to bake Julian’s birthday cake in a tin I’d never used before,shaped like a giant cupcake. It had no instructions about cooking temperature or time. The tin was so deep that the outside of the cake burnt to charcoal and the centre was still raw cake mix! The cake and the tin went in the bin and I had to start again with a normal tin! Hope Alex appreciated your efforts!

    1. gillian

      January 24, 2014 at 9:41 pm

      At least you got as far as cake in the oven! The idea of the giant cupcake sounds brilliant, but raw in the middle isn’t ideal is it – I hope Julian appreciated your efforts too 🙂

  • Kiran from Mummy Says

    January 24, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    So funny! Very impressed that you tried though. Milin’s first birthday cake was the leftover bit of our wedding cake out of the freezer…. his second birthday cake was ordered from a cake maker. Can’t see myself making one anytime soon! And thanks for making me feel like I’m not the only one who’d have a disaster if I tried! x

  • Laura

    January 25, 2014 at 9:14 am

    This really made me smile – I have had similar disasters – running out of ingredients, not having an accurate weighing scale – using a new oven. As long as he was happy in the end and still managed to have some cake (even if it’s from the shop) than it’s all good in my mind 🙂

    Laura x

  • Laura

    January 26, 2014 at 8:01 am

    You should get an A for effort at least.

    It sounds like the sort of thing I’d do. Except I don’t have the excuse of a house move or builders…

  • Emma

    January 27, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    haha Gill! This is exactly the kind of thing I do on a whim … and then head straight to Waitrose for actual edible food!

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