I seem to have spent all day fiddling with cake and getting frustrated with cream cheese. Not an intellectually challenging day then, obviously.

As you may recall, two of my sons have their birthdays today. Firstborn requested a chocolate Guinness cake, which I have made before so seemingly no problems there. Youngest son wanted something with layers, possibly chocolate-y. I flipped through some books and pointed out the butterscotch layer cake in Nigella Lawson’s ‘How Not to be a Domestic Goddess’ and he said “Ooooooh!” So that was that.

I made the Guinness cake yesterday, leaving today to ice it and make and ice the butterscotch cake. Everything was going swimmingly, even the homemade caramel sauce which I have never made before, until it came to knocking up the cream cheese icing which creates a frothy, white topping akin to that on a pint of Guinness. Instead of combining with the icing sugar to create a stiff icing, it turned into slop. I added more icing sugar – no change in sloppiness. My husband came home and added more icing sugar – still no change. I had another bowl of cream cheese on the worktop waiting for the addition of my homemade caramel, but I was very wary of going any further as I did not want the truly delicious caramel to be wasted if that also turned to goo.

After some debate the only thing we could come up with was that I had used supermarket own brand cream cheese rather than Philadelphia – maybe the cheaper stuff was made using a different process? Fat content seemed to be about the same. I trotted off to the supermarket (again – third time in two days!) and returned with Philadelphia, then carefully combined ingredients yet again. The resulting icing wasn’t as thick as I had expected, but neither was it the gloop of first time around, so rather than fiddling (and tasting) any longer I slapped it on the cake and left it at that.

Both looked mighty fine, if I say so myself. M’husband says he will use the goo to make Polish vanilla cheese pancakes. Personally, I am full to the gills with cream cheese icing (and caramel) and have no desire to taste any more for the next six months.

Pics will follow. Honest. In the meantime, here’s a decent sized pic of the cakes I made for my friend Ruth back in June: