By Dawn Robinson-Walsh:

For family birthday parties, I normally knock together a home-made chocolate cake, and to be honest, they are usually just the job, sometimes even lush.

However, a 100th birthday in the family recently called for more than one of my homemade cakes.

If a card was coming from the King and Queen, then the cake needed to be up to scratch, too!

We had the added challenge of needing something for vegan family members to enjoy. So, we decided on two cakes, and I called upon the delightful Claire Potts of Peboryon to see if she could help. Claire has made delicious cakes for me for family events before, but her reputation is now sky high in the luxury cake market, and she mainly focuses on wedding cakes and big celebrations.

Nonetheless, she was able to help, and I was delighted by the end result (s). It was also wonderful to buy from a local business.

We wanted a fairly simply design for a no-fuss individual (the 100-year-old, not me) whose resilience had got her to a relatively healthy century, but inside, the cake needed to be intensely chocolatey (her favourite). We looked at cakes on Pintrest but many seemed frankly, over the top and garish; less can be more. Claire suggested a simple rose design (sugar flowers) which was spot on.

When the event finally arrived, the weather turned delightfully warm.

Suddenly, the planned fondant icing was not such a good idea, as it does not enjoy being refrigerated. We had to go for buttercream. I wasn’t sure about this (having had many a sickly buttercream in my lifetime) but trusted Claire’s advice. In the event, the buttercream was spot on, and the whole cake was utterly delicious. The vegan cake was a tad sweeter, but also very tasty.

Not a crumb was left of either cake, which probably says it all. Our only additions on the day were sparklers and candles.

A wonderful 100th birthday was enjoyed. Family visited from far (New Zealand) and wide (various reaches of the UK), and the sun shone enough for us to visit Bude’s and Instow’s lovely beaches, and eat ice creams, among other things. Our centenarian had a lovely few days of celebrating (and the cakes lasted in the fridge, as people arrived and left).

The cakes were amazing, and it was a relief to have that responsibility taken out of my hands by a professional like Claire.

In fact, Claire – literally – really did provide the ‘icing on the cake’.