There is a first time for everything and yesterday I made my first Gluten Free Birthday Cake.
That will surprise all my regular
readers who know that I have been in the habit of turning out the same Victoria sponge recipe, courtesy of the Divine Delia, on every birthday, for many a year. It was therefore a challenge to realise that I couldn’t follow my normal Custom and Practice
for granddaughter Eleanor’s birthday cake, as she can only eat gluten free food.
I consulted her boyfriend, Nathan, when the two of them came to visit nearly
two weeks ago to ask him if he knew what xantham gum might be; as well as being almost unpronounceable, it sounded extremely unappetising to me. Nathan suggested, sensibly, that I might do better to buy a cake mix...
Which I did, but it still left the issue of those two essentials of any self-respecting birthday cake - the filling and the icing - there was nothing for it but to consult the Birthday Girl’s Mother, the Eldest of the
Darling Daughters. Over the course of the day before the birthday visit, I sent her photographs of the backs of packets and jars so she could check ingredients for me. We finally settled on reduced sugar strawberry jam for filling, plus gluten free chocolate
buttons and fresh raspberries for topping.
Eleanor and Nathan were born on the same day, in the same hospital ward - what are the chances that these two
Millennium Babies would meet up at school seventeen years later? Nobody can say they don’t have plenty in common. Today, which is their actual birthday, they are celebrating separately, each with their own families - so yesterday, the day of their visit
to Mr B and me, was the perfect opportunity for a double celebration. And (as I suspect you knew I would say) why celebrate one special person’s birthday, when you could celebrate two?
July, August and September are particularly busy times for the Making of Birthday Banners but I was pleased to add one more to my 2019 Banner Tally, especially as Nathan had never ever had a birthday banner before - at least not one
reading “Nathan is 19”. I hung it across the window in the dining area, a companion to “Eleanor is 19” which was strung across the living room window. What a good thing, I am sure you are thinking, that our main room enjoys what the
estate agents describe as a “double aspect.” One of my Tremendous Ten grandchildren, young Sam, becomes a teenager next month. He will therefore receive a special banner, proclaiming “Samuel Teenager”. This will not go down well with
his parents, My Boy and the Darling Daughter in Law, who will doubtless protest (with some justification) that birthday banners are not meant to take over living space like a particularly prolific triffid.
The Eldest of the Darling Daughter brought with her plentiful food for our lunch, together with a bottle of rather splendid champagne. This meant that I could spend my time preparing for the Birthday Visit on the priorities
- such as dressing up the Giant Penguin, banners, wrapping presents and, of course, cooking that cake (which turned out to be rather delicious. Though I say so myself, as shouldn’t...)
We had a great deal to talk about. Eleanor’s older sister Katie (we celebrated her 22nd birthday in much the same fashion, back in April, though the cake was, well, gluten-y) has just completed her Finals and is determined
to enjoy life without studying over the coming month, not giving more than a passing thought to Results Day at the end of August. If - make that, when - she passes those exams, she will probably be one of the youngest fully qualified chartered accountants
in the country. I am very proud of her.
While searching through old photo albums for pictures of Graduation Ceremonies I Have Attended (see previous blog - though
only if you can be bothered, of course..) I came across the photographs of the new born Eleanor, resting in her mother’s arms in the hospital where she was born. Her mother, it has to be said, looks amazingly glamorous for one who has just given birth.
Big Sister Katie, then aged three and a half, looks as if she is trying to come to terms with the seismic shift in her life which has just taken place.
few pages on, and there is a photograph of the two girls with their mother, planting a tree. Nineteen years ago, Kent County Council had the really rather wonderful idea of gifting a tree for every Kent child born in the year 2000, to be planted in White Horse
Wood. There are over 20,000 trees in this beautiful country park - and one of them is a silver birch planted for our Eleanor to mark her birth.
birch is a tree native to Great Britain, a beautiful, vigorous tree which is happy wherever you plant it but loves the sunshine.
The perfect tree, in fact,
for Our Eleanor...