patchwork birthday cake


As a child I always knew my age down to the month. Birthdays were a longed for day, even if we didn’t have big celebrations, because there was often something we could do when we reached the magic age. I was told I could grow my hair long when I reached ten (though of course I’d gone off the idea by then) and for some reason I imagined that when I reached seventeen I’d suddenly turn into a glamorous person frequenting sophisticated parties (which didn’t happen). But after the milestones of being old enough to drive, to vote and drink, followed by a birthday bash for reaching 21, the significance of birthdays seemed to fade. For ten years, I thought I was still 22 so it was always a bit of a shock when I worked out my real age. I still have to work it out now, though if I reach 100 I’m sure I’ll be only too happy to tell everyone what a great age I am.


rhubarb jelly
rhubarb jelly

The result of this lack of enthusiasm means that nowadays we don’t celebrate birthdays in our house beyond having birthday cake and jelly, unless of course it’s an important 0 birthday. The cake is always home-made and each of us has our favourite; I’ve made coca cola cake, a multitude of chocolate cakes, cakes decorated with sweets, a cake in the shape of a pig’s head and my favourite coffee cake.


rhubarb jelly typed

It was Bill’s birthday this week so we celebrated with Rhubarb Crumble Cake and Rhubarb Jelly (we know how to live!), which was a good combination because the rhubarb was used for the cake and the juice for the jelly. Luckily Bill likes rhubarb.

10 thoughts on “birthdays

  1. I know what you mean about no longer keeping track of birthdays but, like you, I always make cake, whatever the age and whoever the person! Love your rhubarb jelly pic and graphic recipe. I know I”ve said it before but there’s the most wonderful book waiting to emerge from you and your culinary / artistic exploits! Happy Birthday to Bill – glad he enjoyed his cake and jelly – come to think of it what better way is there to celebrate?! E x

    PS Curious to know about your pig’s head cake! Any pics extant? And er, was it sponge or brawn inside?!

    1. The pig’s head was pre digital camera days when I was very sparing with my photographs! It was sponge made in a pudding bowl, inverted onto a plate with half a swiss roll stuck on the top for a snout and covered with fondant icing. Not quite Jane Asher and probably best left to memory rather than photographed. I like your thought process Elizabeth – brawn would have made a wonderful surprise.

  2. Sounds yummy! Coffee cake is also my favourite. We are celebrating my son’s birthday this weekend…I’m hoping a volcano cake will look OK.

    1. That’s my family friendly rhubarb jelly recipe. Obviously when I made it for Bill I slipped in a little marmalade gin. The original recipe used sparkling wine but I couldn’t taste any difference when I made it with good lemonade, so why waste good wine.

  3. Happy birthday Bill! I bet the Rhubarb Crumble Cake was delicious.

    I agree, since turning 30 I often lose track of my age too! We are not really into big celebrations either but I do always make a cake for the kids. My little man turns 4 soon and has requested a banana cake, as in the shape of a banana! Is your son a George? We have a George too 🙂

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