C’s birthday is this week and he turns lucky 8. We celebrated his birthday and Father’s Day all weekend but that doesn’t matter come the actual day, and on the day, C would like balloons and cupcakes and to go out to his favorite burger joint around the corner after school.
I made a cake for him on Saturday and when C was helping me frost (ice) the cake, he said ‘I think we’re one of the only families that make our own cakes’. There is not enough sugar in the world to make that statement any sweeter and I was not going to spoil it by telling him that I have only made him home made cakes for the last 2 years. Now was not the time to confess. So for his actual birthday, I revert to my old ways and am off to the Hummingbird Bakery to get a few cupcakes.
The Hummingbird Bakery is Notting Hill’s (and now Soho, South Kensington, and even Dubai I think!) home for ‘authentic American cakes and desserts’. Tarek Malouf founded the first branch in 2004 and around this time I was still going through withdrawal from missing New York City’s Magnolia’s red velvet cupcakes. Please note that I was a fan of Magnolia BEFORE Carrie Bradshaw and Sex in the City became fans.
My cousin J and I could not get enough of Magnolia and their cupcakes, pies, cakes and shakes. We would go on weekends when we lived in Greenwich Village and did not want to go to a bar (although come to think of it, those occasions were probably more rare than I care to admit). But, at the risk of offending my American brethren, I do prefer Hummingbird to Magnolia now as I think they are far less sweet. Have a look at the recipes:
The one on the left is from Hummingbird and although it is for cupcakes, to make the red velvet cake you double the quantities which is what the recipe for Magnolia on the right shows. Hummingbird uses 150g sugar or 300g for the cake. Magnolia uses 2 1/4 cups. So converting grams = cups by 1g = .00423c results in an equivalent amount at Magnolia of 532g of sugar. That is 232g MORE sugar, basically an entire cup MORE. Too sweet!!!
Anyway, I try not to feast on cupcakes like I used to and I do bake my own treats, but the kids love going to the shop and choosing themselves. We used to have a more independent cake cook in our neighborhood, The Cupcake Company, but sadly she had to close her shop after 3 years because her landlord did not renew her lease. Apparently, she lived upstairs and did not like the smell of cupcakes at 5am, nor did she like all the schoolchildren traipsing around every afternoon and weekend…or so local legend (or mere gossip) goes.
I buy some cupcakes and now it is getting close to pick up time and I really don’t want to be late picking up C from school on his birthday so I dash into a local stationer to see if they have any helium balloons. I decide I will get one for F as well, since I never got him a balloon for his birthday… and who doesn’t want balloons after school anyway no matter what age! I’m in luck and not only do they have helium balloons but they have a portable helium tank as well. BUT, wait…they are £6.95 EACH. That’s about $11 USD for 1 balloon…so 8 would set me back just under $90. That’s ninety dollars. 9-0 …not 99cents like at the dollar store or in my case, the PoundShop. (more on that another time) FORGET IT!
But I need a balloon so I look under the helium ones and see a pack of ‘unique’ balloons which look like they can be blown up and the man behind the counter says he will charge me £2 for each of those. That is a lot more reasonable so I choose a birthday card that has the number 8 all over it and buy the pack of 5 cheapo balloons, choose 3 (red, yellow and blue) to blow up and leave the pink and purple ones in the pack. Pink and purple are dirty words in our house as we’ve already established at Argos.
I now have exactly 11 minutes to drop off the cupcakes, tie up the balloons and get a snack to bring to school. I should be able to do it in 5 or 6 as I do not have very far to go. But there is a problem. A big problem. A 21 year old problem. The balloons that were blown up say Happy 21st Birthday when I thought they just said Happy Birthday. I look closer at the selection and see that the ‘cheapo’ balloons are for ‘New Baby’, ‘Engagement’, ‘Happy 21st Birthday’ and ‘Happy 40th Birthday’. Oh. Right. Hmmm…there really is no other option so I take them anyway.
Back home, I am attempting to make them presentable to my 8 year old but now I think I should have just left them at 21st and let him laugh at how grown up I think he is. Instead he has gone from somewhere between ’21st’ birthday, and ’81st’ birthday with my hurried attempt at an 8 and an exclamation point. The next one is not even worth mentioning as I attempt to complement my clever kid’s mathematical skills. Running to school now, I am late but hope my birthday boy appreciates my position.
8 8oz glasses of water after all the running around
Drink quickly, find wine balloon and open nearest bottle