I believe in birthday cakes. This blind faith bears an uncanny resemblance to how I used to fervently believe in paper-winged fairies and white-haired Santas, until I realised that Santa was Daddy leaving untidy wrong-handed scrawls on a giant box that hid the Barbie doll house my sister and I longed for. But unlike the Santa faith that went poof with age, I still believe in birthday cakes.
Before I moved to London, my family made an effort to celebrate our birthdays together. We are not good with expressing our love for one another, but we do so in subtle ways, with each birthday song heartily sung, one after the other, five times a year. And no one ever, ever forgets to get a cake. Ever since I moved to UK, my family still keeps to the goofy tradition of breaking into the most cringe-worthy birthday chorus, but unfortunately, I haven’t been part of most of the celebrations for the past years, so yes, birthdays have been a little lonely and I feel bad that I can’t be there for my family. But this change of circumstance hasn’t taken away the special place that birthday cakes have in my heart; this is a tradition that my parents have endeavoured to keep in my family and I am determined to do so for ours.
I first made M a birthday cake when he turned 25. In fact, it was the first birthday cake that I had made for anyone. I was his girlfriend, we were together for almost two years, it was the first birthday he had spent in Singapore after living in London for a few years, and I wanted to make it special. He once told me that he loved the deep, dark and dense chocolate fondant cake from Ottolenghi, so I decided to make a dark chocolate yoghurt cake for him. I remember practising it twice. I brought the first cake to the lab I was working in and asked my colleagues for their opinions. The cake turned out a tad dry, I took notes and went home to make another. I even bought a new oven (a simple convectional one) that I lugged home on my own, all for his 25th. The cake was well-received, but on hindsight, I wonder if everyone was just being kind. Not that the taste mattered, because I remember M’s face when he saw the cake. It was a surprise, and he was surrounded by his family for the first time in years. He was absolutely delighted and I’ll never forget that.
This year, I decided to make M a birthday cake again. Well, actually I made two (recipes coming along in the next posts). For the first round of celebrations with his friends, I made a Japanese Cheesecake with Rose Whipped Cream Frosting. He had asked for a cheesecake, and I thought it would be nice to try the Japanese version, which is much lighter and so very delectable. True to my perfectionist self, I practised. I made one two weeks before the celebrations, tweaked the recipe and made the actual one the night before the party. The late nights paid off. I watched him smile as his friends semi-shouted multi-language renditions of the birthday song. When photos were being taken, we scrambled to take our positions next to the birthday boy as the candles threatened to go out. He was elated to be surrounded by good friends, and I was just happy to know that he was happy. Amidst polishing off the copious amounts of food, riotous singing (it was a karaoke-dinner party), enthusiastic clapping, he pulled me to a corner, looked me in the eye and whispered, ‘Thank you, dear. The cake is perfect and I love it.’. It made my heart melt. This is what birthday cakes do to me. They make me feel warm and fuzzy, happy and most importantly thankful that someone is somewhere celebrating it with that special someone. They make the loneliest person feel loved. That is how my parents love me, and this is how I want to show my love for M. Besides, who can resist a little bit of cream and sugar? =)
Happy Birthday, darling. I hope you had a lovely one and here’s to many more years of birthday cakes to come.
I have been working on a fundraising event on my blog for the earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan. You can visit this post here to find out more details. I’m pledging a USD100 Amazon gift card to one lucky donor who donates before 31 March 2011, so please, please dig deep and help! – Updated: We have a a winner, and we raised £1510!!