It was #1 teenage son’s 16th birthday earlier in the week. How can that be possible? Surely it was only a moment ago that he was a podgy baby, throwing up over everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) and now he’s a tall, strapping guy choosing his ‘A’ Levels and smelling always of chlorine. How things change …
But what do you buy as a birthday gift for a teenager who only ever really wants things that he NEEDS? It’s an admirable trait for sure (and one that his younger sister could learn from) but it does make this time of year challenging. Particularly coming so soon after Christmas. And made worse by the fact that #2 teenage son’s birthday follows just 4 days after his. Boy, that was some bad planning on our part …
Me – “Have you any ideas what you might like for your birthday?”
Short break for thinking time.
#1 teenage son – “Well, I did think of something – but now I can’t remember what it was …”
AAAAAaaarrrggghh. And it’s much more difficult now that CDs, DVDs and books are not an option. What is a desperate Mum supposed to do?
Dig deep – that’s what she’s supposed to do. Dig deep for inspiration and opt for ‘speed shopping’. Shop under time pressure and somehow the ideas seem to flow better. It works for me.
So what gifts did #1 teenage son receive to celebrate his special day?
- A spinny chair – Obviously. Inspired by a day when the whole family helped my lovely husband at a workshop he was running, and the children ‘helped’ from the comfort of the office spinny chairs. It’s a stylish chair too (not terribly officey) but evidently perhaps a little too comfortable – the risk of falling asleep in it after a long day, I understand, is high. But surely that’s what you do when you’re 60 not 16.
- A cup for protein shakes on the go – When your swim coach tells you that you need to try to put some weight on, then protein shakes between meals are a good place to start. As an adult, being given the OK to eat more would be heavenly. As a teenager, I imagine it’s a bit of a hassle.
- Some Patchi chocolate – See above.
- Chris Froome’s autobiography, ‘The Climb’ – It’s as much about mental stamina and determination as it is about cycling. #1 teenage son has always loved an autobiography, and despite living in a Kindle world I do sometimes succumb to the draw of an old fashioned paperback book.
- ‘The World in 2016’ by The Economist – “But we haven’t had much of 2016 yet“. Ha ha. Economic predictions for the year ahead and perfect for starting Economics ‘A’ Level in September.
- Plus a mystery gift that I only came up with on the day of his birthday – come on Aramex, deliver quickly please.
And then of course there was the cake – a Lemon Layer Cake – to round off his birthday and to accompany the singing and the candles. And it only took one blow to extinguish all 16 of the candles – that’ll be swimmers’ lungs I guess.
And why is this my current favorite cake … with or without a birthday to celebrate?
- It’s easy – Nothing fancy here. A simple sponge with a fantastic (but SO easy) filling.
- It’s quick – I had the whole thing made in less than 1½ hours … including cooling and decorating.
- It tastes delicious – This is a cake with a lightness of texture and a zesty flavour. Not too lemony as to be, ‘CRIKEY’, but lemony enough to be fresh and not at all sickly.
- It uses time saving ingredients – Grab yourself a jar of good lemon curd (I like the Sicilian Lemon Curd from M&S or this one from Waitrose) and that’s half of the filling done. The other half is a cream cheese frosting that you’ll recognize from these Carrot Cakes. It looks like too much filling for one cake, but trust me on this – after all we’re not going to use any icing, just a dusting of icing sugar.
And I completely didn’t expect that taking cakes into school would still be a thing when you’re 16, but I was so wrong with that. I guess there are some things that you’re never too old for. 24 lemon butterfly cakes later and we’re ready to go.
Shall I post the recipe for the Lemon Butterfly Cakes too? You know you only have to say the word… You can post a comment below to let me know or join in the chat on my Facebook page.
Anyway, I’m off for a spin (and a snooze) now in a spinny chair … Enjoy!
- 280g (10oz) margarine or soft butter
- 280g (10oz) caster sugar
- the finely grated zest of 1 large or 2 small lemons
- 5 large eggs
- 280g (10oz) SR flour
- 1 tablespoon boiling water
- 2 heaped tablespoons lemon curd
- For the cream cheese frosting -
- 85g (3oz) cream cheese
- 50g (2oz) soft butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 450g (1lb) icing sugar
- You will also need -
- 2 x 20cm (8") tins - preferably with loose bases
- Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F (gas mark 4).
- Begin by lining the tins. Draw around the base of the tin onto baking parchment and cut out 2 circles. Grease the base and sides of the tins with a little soft butter or margarine on some kitchen roll or baking parchment. Now 'stick' the baking parchment circles inside the 2 tins.
- Weigh the butter and caster sugar into a large mixing bowl. Now using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy and has become a lighter colour. This will take around 5 minutes.
- Break each egg individually into a cup (just in case any of them have gone bad - trust me it does happen). This also means it is easier to fish out any stray bits of shell. Add each egg, one at a time to the mixture.
- Now weigh the SR flour into a bowl and add this to the cake mixture.
- Add the lemon zest to the bowl.
- Beat the mixture until everything is well combined. You may need to use a spatula to 'clean' the edges of the bowl and to make sure that everything is thoroughly mixed.
- Now add a tablespoon of boiling water to the mixture and fold gently to combine.
- Divide the mixture between the 2 tins and bake in the oven for 23-25 minutes or until the centre is springy to the touch.
- While the cake is baking, get on with making the filling. Beat together the cream cheese, soft butter and vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Gradually add the icing sugar, beating after each addition.
- When the cakes are ready, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool in their tins for a few minutes or until the edges of the cake have shrunk a little from the tin. Now run a sharp knife round the edges of the tins to fully release them and carefully tip the cakes onto a cooling rack.
- Be sure that the cake is COMPLETELY cold before decorating it. Spread the lemon curd on the bottom of one of the cakes and the cream cheese frosting on the other - the frosting will be rather stiff so spoon it on gently and then 'ease' the spoonfuls together until they meet. Sandwich the two cakes together (with the lemon curd one on top) and dust the top of the cake with icing sugar - use a sieve or an icing sugar shaker for this.