March 17th… always a day to look forward to. No work, the chance to meet up with friends, watch the annual St. Patrick’s day parade and least not forget the celebrations afterwards. Then… mommy-hood took me over and I had to show a level of responsibility – my carefree days were well and truly over-ish.
The small one was a hardy nine months old on his first St. Patrick’s day and the hubby – a fireman on the local fire service – scheduled to drive the engine in the parade that year, brought him along for the festive fun. But being only a baby I had to go along aswell to keep an eye on him.
Another family tradition was born that day, that year… Father and son travelling together on the fire engine, leading the local parade through the town and have continued to do so every St. Patrick’s day since.
Today, six years later, preparations are well underway for this Sunday’s parade. The only difference? I got demoted to the sidelines three years ago and the small one now brings along his little school friends instead.
So I stand amidst the crowds, frantically waving at the small one as they drive by, cheekily grinning at me from under his daddy’s way to big fire helmet.
And I can visualise him in years to come, dressed smartly in his uniform, sitting where his daddy’s sits now, driving down the same route, smiling at me from under his very own fire helmet.
I can’t say it doesn’t scare me a little, for all the obvious reasons, but mostly because of how quickly my small one is growing up. Back now from day-dreaming and worrying, arms still waving, I straighten myself up and smile the smile of a proud mammy and wife.
Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh.
Makes: 20 • Baking time: Approx 40 minutes
For the sponge
225g self-raising flour
225g castor sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 medium eggs
For the buttercream
200g icing sugar (sieved)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the icing and decoration
225g icing sugar (sieved)
A little warm water
Food colouring (green and orange)
100g milk chocolate
To make the chocolate shamrocks
1. Melt the chocolate in a heat-proof glass bowl over a saucepan of boiling water.
2. Print out the shamrock template here and place on a flat board.
3. Fill a piping bag with the melted chocolate and using a very thin nozzle, draw around the shape of each shamrock. Leave to set.
To make the sponge
1. Preheat the oven to 160c/Gas mark 3/140c (fan). Grease and line a 20cm/8″ square baking tin.
2. Beat together all the sponge ingredients until smooth. Pour the cake mixture into the baking tin.
3. Bake for about 40 minutes or until a metal skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out and onto a wire rack.
To make the buttercream
Beat together the butter and icing sugar in a bowl until white and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla extract.
To make the glacé icing
Mix the icing sugar with enough warm water to make a thick consistency. Separate into 3 bowls. Leave first bowl as white icing, add green food colouring to second bowl of icing and orange food colouring to the last bowl.
1. Slice the edges off the cake and cut into 20 pieces. Then cut each cake in half again and fill with buttercream.
2. Centre a blob of buttercream on top of each cake and leave to harden in the fridge for 30 minutes.
3. Place the cakes on a wire tray over some foil to catch the drips, then pour the icing over the cakes guiding it down the sides. (I only partially covered the cakes).
4. Finally stick a chocolate shamrock into the icing on top of each cake.