Heidi made these gorgeous cupcakes last weekend to celebrate a friend’s 40th birthday – how lucky was she?
It got me thinking about the different milestones that we celebrate in our life. Ancient cultures had specific rituals for births, moving into adulthood, marriage and death. Somehow I think with our fast paced lives we forget to acknowledge special occasions. Since moving to The Netherlands I’ve noticed how many milestone traditions they have here - everything from a baby’s birth to birthdays are celebrated. They’re not necessarily fancy occasions but they are acknowledged and celebrated which I’ve come to love. I'd thought I'd share some of my favourites with you and maybe inspire to start your own fun way to mark milestones in your life.
This is one of my favourites! It’s celebrated several ways. First, once your baby is born it is custom to eat ‘muisjes’ these are aniseed flavoured sprinkles – blue and white (for a boy) or pink and white (for a girl). They’re served on buttered rusk-like rounds of twice-baked bread (known as biscuit). At the birth of our son, my husband, my mum & I were all given one to eat at the hospital to celebrate the birth of our son. How sweet was that?
It’s also common to create a front window display with a pink or blue banner announcing your baby’s arrival. Other decorations can include pink or blue tulle tied in a bow around the front door, at stork flying into the window and a lovely wooden stork on the garden. This way the whole neighbourhood knows the news. But it doesn’t stop there. Finally, it’s custom to mark your baby’s arrival with a birth announcement card. This is typically a card with your baby’s vital details – name, height, weight and any specific visiting details. These are sent immediately. We waited a week and people were already asking where their one was!
Passing your final school exams
This is marked with a backpack flown at mask from a flagpole and perhaps a banner saying ‘geslaaged’ (passed!)
Like births, these also follow a distinct ritual. Typically celebrated on the exact day of your birthday (no waiting for the weekend!) cake is served as you arrive with tea or coffee and mostly everyone sits in a circle. As you arrive you shake everyone’s hand and congratulate him or her on his or her mother/sister/son etc birthday. After cake, the next round is usually beer/wine with savoury nibbles.
Do you have a special celebratory tradition in your family? I'd love to hear about it. If you don'y maybe it's time to start one with Heidi's Celebration mud cake.
Heidi's Celebration Mud Cake recipe
Here’s Heidi’s go-to recipe for all special celebrations in her family (they were also my wedding cakes!).
250g chopped dark chocolate
375g unsalted butter
320g plain flour
60g self raising flour
40g cocoa powder
3 eggs lightly beaten
1. Preheat a fan forced oven to 160 degrees celsius.
2. Line 3, 12 hole cupcake pans with cupcake papers
3. Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan and heat until all the sugar has dissolved.
4. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add in the chopped chocolate and butter. Stir constantly until all ingredients are combined and smooth.
5. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
6. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together, gently stir the chocolate mixture into the flour.
7. Fold in the eggs one at a time until smooth.
8. Poor the mixture into the cupcake papers. (I find it easier to transfer the mixture into a pouring jug)
9. Bake in a moderately slow oven for 27minutes. To test insert a skewer into the cakes, when it comes out clean they are ready to eat.
Serve topped with vanilla butter-cream or chocolate ganache and fresh berries.