Updated: Apr 23
Unlike his sister, Smallest is a great big fan of chocolate and can be persuaded to do most things on the promise of a chocolate button or, as he currently calls them, a chicken button! So when he requested a chocolate, honey cake with a tractor on top for his birthday, there was only one type of chocolate to use. Milk chocolate makes a much more palatable chocolate cake for little ones and the honey glaze in this recipe makes it deliciously sweet without being sickly.
As has become tradition, here is your birthday letter smallest boy and the recipe for your Chicken Button Tractor Cake with all my love. x
You bring us so much joy. You have extraordinary kindness and warmth, concerned always with the welfare of those around you.Have they got enough food, do they want some of yours, is the door shut properly, have we had a nice day? ‘Thankoo mummy / daddy for my…’ must be one of your most uttered phrases and every time it makes me melt. What did I do to deserve such a sweet boy? Today when we took you for a ride on a real steam train (I’m not sure you believed these existed outside of Thomas the Tank Engine until now) you’re little face relaxed as you looked, wide-eyed out of the window at the billowing steam and you simply said, ‘this is a nice train mummy.’ May you always be so content and delighted with the world my darling. May you always be this happy.
You have extraordinary empathy and an enormous capacity for love. You love all animals too and take such gentle care of ours. I think the chickens are your favourite and nothing gives me greater pleasure than watching you stomp down the garden in your little red wellies to take them in hand, talk to them, read them a story, collect their eggs or clean them out. You relish all of these tasks equally and I love how responsible and generous you are.
There is no better snuggler than you and the smell of your head is intoxicating. I imagine that snuggling up to your mum will become painfully embarrassing the the short years to come You won’t be reaching for my arms to wrap around your warm little body whilst you sleep, so I want to inhale these moments now; to press pause. The closeness is all too fleeting and every fledgling step you take is equal parts celebration and sorrow. I grieve for baby you. You came so calmly into the world and healed my wounds with your serenity. Every day you loved me I became stronger and more myself. I hope I can give you half as many gifts as you give me. I worry I will not be able to.
But you are cheeky too. You are beginning to work out that you can use your cuteness as a a weapon; a bargaining chip for getting your own way. I hope that you might become one of those pupils that teachers adore because, although a handful, your mischief comes from a heart of gold and your smile is so winning that it could excuse you almost anything. Anything that is except the uncharacteristic day when you put the bunny in the tumble dryer (thankfully not when it was on) and there had to be some stern words and quite a lot of parsley peace offerings. We shall gloss over that for now.
Little man, you completed our family and lit up our lives. I love you.
Chicken Button Tractor Cake with Posh Honey Buttercream
For the Cake
100g Stork or softened unsalted butter
340g brown sugar
100g chocolate buttons - melted
3 large eggs
225g plain flour
3 tablespoons drinking chocolate powder
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
For the Honey Glaze
100g caster sugar
1 tbsp honey
For the Honey Butter Cream
4 egg whites
130g caster sugar
375g unsalted butter - cubed
X2 15cm cake tins
* Note: The recipe is for the top cake only. Three 15cm cakes. The bottom tier was a mock cake for presentation only. There were only four of us for this birthday - there's only so much cake you need!
Beat together the butter and sugar until combined and fluffy.
Add the eggs and mix until just combined.
Mix in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and hot chocolate powder.
Pour in the milk and melted chocolate and beat everything together until just combined.
Bake both cakes in the oven for 40 minutes. It's worth checking them after half an hour. As usual, when the cakes are done a skewer or knife will come out clean when inserted into the cakes.
Whilst the cakes bake, make the honey glaze. Add water, sugar and honey to the pan and heat until all the sugar is dissolved. Pour this over both cakes as soon as they come out of the oven. Once the cakes have cooled enough for you to handle the tins, pop them out and cool them completely on a wire rack.
Ideally you'll be making the cakes a day before you ice and decorate them. If this is the case, wrap them in clingfilm to keep them moist.
To make the icing (only attempt this with an electric mixer) whisk together egg whites and sugar in a large glass bowl until combined. Put the bowl over a pan of just simmering water and whisk until the sugar has completely dissolved. Pour the mixture into the bowl of the Kitchen Aid or get your electric whisk and beat until meringue makes stiff peaks and the mixture is cool. This will take a good ten minutes or more. It must, must MUST be cold before adding the butter. Mix until smooth and then stir through the honey. If the icing curdles or splits (looks like scrambled eggs) just keep whisking. It should come back together and smooth out.