Birthday cakes have always been one of the most important parts of birthdays in my family. Weeks of planning usually go into each one...and often tears are shed along the way.
As a chid I always knew that mum would make me a great cake - little did I know the time and effort that went into them. Now that I am involved in the making of family birthday cakes I understand both the upset and the joy that they can bring.
There have always been the reliable classics that have appeared numerous times through the years - the cuckoo clock and the hedgehog. And then there have been the more inventive creations - my little brother's pirate ship cake and my 10th birthday Sherlock Holmes magnifying glass.
My favourite has to be my 17th birthday cake. Mum had crafted my 17th birthday present - my first car, a blue mini - into cake form. Even down to the registration number on the plates and the almost identical shade of blue with a silver roof.
Food colouring always plays a major role in the creations and I'm sure that some of the bottles are at least 20 years past their sell by date. The selection of animal candles that must have been used more than 10 times each, some don't even have any head left.
Mum's handwritten recipe book, so organised and neat. Precise measuring and mixing of the cake mixture, and then, inevitably, having to cut off the burnt bits after getting it out of the oven.
I know that it will eventually be up to me to continue this family tradition. Although I suspect I there will be many more late nights of cutting, icing and tears before the box of food colourings is passed on.