My daughter is just weeks away from her second birthday, which is making me all nostalgic about her first birthday. We might not be the world’s best parents, but I look back on her first birthday party and have zero regrets.
We aren’t necessarily the kind of parents who are absolutely tied to traditions, as far as our child is concerned, but my husband insisted on letting her have her own cake. And, as he so often is, my husband was right – it was the highlight of her birthday party for everyone.
I’ve been to far too many parties where the one-year-old eats approximately half a teaspoon of a full-size cake and then renders the rest completely inedible, meaning the whole work of art goes in the garbage. I shudder a little at that kind of waste, so I was elated when I landed on what I think might have been the most brilliant idea in the history of first birthday parties (I did no research on this because if it wasn’t the most brilliant idea ever, I don’t know want to know): I would make her a miniature individual cake in a mug.
We were doing tiny cupcakes for the birthday guests, so I simply set aside about 1/3 cup of cake batter, greased the daylights out of a straight-sided mug, poured in the batter, and baked it until a toothpick came out clean (it took around 30 minutes – just slightly longer than a regular-sized cupcake).
When it came out (easily! Hallelujah!), I let it cool then cut off the top so it’d be flat, frosted it with some white frosting and edged it with raspberry frosting, and stuck a single candle in.
I try not to be overly prideful, but nearly a year later, and I’m still ridiculously proud of myself when I look at pictures of that cake. The beauty! The color! The tiny size!
We put Ella’s high chair front and center, lit the candle, and started singing (by the way, we had a pretty small party – eleven total attendees including my husband and me, which I think made it way less overwhelming. I’m an adult and I would be horrified by 30 people crowded around me singing and staring at me).
I’ve discovered that when an audience is involved, my child often likes to do exactly the opposite of what I’ve hoped for, but on this particularly day, she did even more than I could of asked for. She immediately sunk her tiny mouth right into the cake. Oh, how everyone laughed (my child, the ham, got the biggest, goofiest grin on her face when she saw that reaction).
And then, after a bite or two, it was time for the hands to go in.
In the end, she ate less than a tenth of the cake, but it was so small to begin with that it didn’t pain me too much to throw the excess away.
The whole thing was so darling, that I’m already eagerly anticipating another mug cake for my second child’s first birthday, more than 18 months from now.
Janssen also blogs at Everyday Reading.
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