Because I can

Sitting here on the eve of my little guy’s fourth birthday, the house is a tip. I have half-baked bits everywhere and a huge box of stuff to transport to the playgroup rooms.

Some of my friends have asked why I bother, why go to the effort of a party and making everything myself. I’ve thought about that question and the answer is simple, “because I can”. The party is as much about us and it is about him.

There are only a limited number of parties where you can invite whoever you like and have a cuppa (or wine) with the kids’ parents. Soon, when the children are at different schools and sport kicks in, we won’t see as much of our favourite people. Very soon, parents won’t stay at parties and kids won’t want themes and cup cakes. And following soon after that, my boy won’t even want me at his party.

So, I’m doing this because it’s more than a birthday. It’s a celebration of our boy and it’s about gathering people together. And, what’s more, I enjoy it – so, why not?!

Here’s a simple old-fashioned madeira cake recipe – a cake that has been used for parties for generations. It is buttery, tasty and dense enough to ice. I often make it ahead of time and freeze, then bring out a couple of days before the party to ice.

What you’ll need

200g butter, at room temperature

150g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

3 eggs, at room temperature

Zest of a lemon

225g plain flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/3-1/2 c milk, at room temperature

Zest of a lemon

How to make it

Line a loaf tin or 18-19cm round/square tin with baking paper. Heat the oven to 180C.


Cream the butter and sugar until light and very fluffy. Beat in the vanilla.


Meanwhile, beat the eggs together in a separate bowl until thick.

Sift the flour and baking powder together into a bowl or on to a plate and set aside.

When butter and sugar is creamed, slowly add in the eggs with the beater running (I use Kenny). If you feel it is curdling, add in a tablespoon of the flour. Beat until eggs are well combined.


Add in the flour, alternating with the milk – I do it in two or three batches. Fold in the lemon zest.


Pour the batter into the prepared tin. Put into the oven – make sure the oven rack is below the centre of the oven.


Bake for 30-40 minutes – depending on your oven. It is ready when a skewer comes out clean. Cool in tin for 10-15 minutes, then turn the cake out.


There you have it, simple and delicious. It will keep fresh for two or three days. This recipe – which is an amalgamation of recipes – doubles well. I used it to make my Aunt’s 70th cake (above) and the little guy’s cake for tomorrow, which I’ll post on facebook post party.

This is a lovely afternoon tea cake, and also good for school lunches. An easy go-to recipe.

One thought on “Because I can

  1. That sounds yum! Your chocolate cake recipe from last year is a regular now in our house. Next I will try this one:-) Have a fun party!


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