Birthday Cake – Done!

Well, I promised an update on the whole Birthday cake story, as last time I wrote about it it was just an idea in my head, and scribbled on a scrap of paper. So, here you go, this is what I did – the story of the cake (duh duh duuuuhhhhhhh!).

The request was for a Tinkerbell cake, so I quickly came to the conclusion that I was not going to attempt to create Tink’s delicate features in fondant icing – oh no, I didn’t want the birthday girl to end up screaming in horror at a bendy, wobbly version of her fave fairy. So, sticking within my abilities, I bought some cake topper fairies and made them a lovely fairy garden with toadstool to play in!

I started by doubling my madeira cake recipe and plopping the mixture into two oven-proof dishes.

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Now, I’m not going to pretend this all went like clockwork. The first problem encountered was that even though I’d thought about baking for longer due to my ailing oven, I’d not banked on it taking 2 hours!! I’m sure someone with a fully-functioning oven wouldn’t have this problem though. Now behind on time I realised I had one egg too few and not enough caster sugar for the second part of this extravaganza – the chocolate ‘garden’. So I raced off to buy these, and made the next cakes at speed. Substituting 1oz of flour for cocoa made it nice and chocolatey, but I had no idea if it would work. I bunged the two square tins in the oven on different shelves with less than 1 hour until school pick up time.  Half way through the nervous wait, I changed the cakes over, at which point I saw how wobbly they still were – yikes!! They were not fully cooked by the time I had to race off to school so I did the only thing I could, switched the oven off and hoped the residual heat would finish the job!

Luckily when I came home the damage was not so bad. The middles of the cakes were cooked, if a little softer than they ought to be, and less risen, but ok! So I had the cakey building blocks!

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The next day was the big decorate. I shut the kitchen door and got going. Luckily I’d coloured some coconut green the previous day while I waited for the cakes to bake. This took almost a whole bottle of green food colouring (for a whole pack of coconut) and STILL it wasn’t completely green. Anyway, I made choc icing (mud) and smothered that on the chocolate cake, then added the green ‘grass’. No problems there :0)

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Then came the part I’d worried about. Time to see if two bowl-shaped madeira cakes will sit one on top of the other and stay that way! I added some wooden skewers inside to help them out – and to give me peace of mind, and it worked! Then I got going with the fondant – just red and white. I cut out white circles for the toadstool using a bottle lid, and made the ‘stalk’ and underside of the ‘umbrella’ with the white, before getting the red out. I think that’s a good tip. Get your white done first!!

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Anyway, apart from having to make a bit of my own red icing as I didn’t have enough, I managed it. I then scattered sweeties around the garden, added the fairies and gave it a generous sprinkle of edible glitter, and hey presto, bibbety bobbety boo, a cake for my 5 year old! Here it is before its big moment:

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Luckily she loved it :0)

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Phew! 

I’m Planning a Birthday Cake!

I do love a home-made birthday cake, though I don’t agree at all with any peer-pressure amongst mums to all attempt the creation of a tower of sugary fabulousness for the birthday boy or girl to match up to what little Johnny or Delilah had at THEIR party. Just don’t do it if you don’t want to! There are so many wonderful people out there making a living from taking this particular stress away from you, and it’s amazing what they can do. Failing that, there’s always the old supermarket cake – yes I have used them too! Also, another great cheat is to buy a plain cake and get yourself a rice paper cake-topper. These are great value and can be found on Ebay easily. I bought a ‘Johnny Test’ one once, as there was no way I could recreate that particular cartoon character! All you have to do then is stick it on with icing.

However, I LOVE the challenge of making a cake for my kids, even though I spend hours planning it and making it, and it never ever turns out as pristine & amazing as a professional could make it. The reason behind this is that it’s a tradition in my family. Every birthday that my sister and I had would prompt baking from mum, and handing over of the decorating to my dad! Yes, he loved doing this too! Back then, *ahem* years ago, there was a ‘Children’s Cakes’ book, which a lot of parents owned. In it were such delights as a gypsy caravan, a train, a hedgehog, etc etc. My dad even made me a Zebidee for my 18th birthday!

Anyway, I’ve somehow succeeded in past years in making a Tardis, a Peppa Pig, Very Hungry Caterpillar, Butterfly, Minnie Mouse, and most recently, Agent P from Phineas & Ferb.

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I’m now planning the next one, and I’m hoping it’ll be easier! I’m not going to tell you now what it’ll be, but the idea has taken shape and keeps getting more complicated as I think of more things. I’m looking forward to taking to the kitchen and hubby keeping the kids away for the (usually 2) hours I need to turn cake into *mystery thing*. Up goes the music, on goes the apron & off I go. Coloured fondant everywhere, lots of cursing & fiddling about, and hopefully, hey presto, something resembling what it was supposed to be in the first place! 

If it makes anyone feel better, all of my slightly wobbly, slightly cracked, baked from scratch previous attempts are here on Pinterest.

I just love doing it and I know I’m not very good, but that’s not going to stop me! I can highly recommend giving it a go. Have a back-up plan so that you don’t get stressed, get into the kitchen and get creative! All you need do when you have an idea is to search the internet for images of cakes other fabulous people have posted, and you can find one there that suits you. I’d recommend looking for something that doesn’t involve too much ‘building work’ – the last thing you need is a ‘Leaning Tower of Pisa’ effect. If you’re going to build a shape of any kind you could go with madeira cake rather than normal sponge as it is more ‘sturdy’. With all the helpful pre-coloured fondant icing you can buy, and pre-made cake toppers, you will find you can take baby-steps & work up to the full baking & creating experience. It’s easier than you think!

I’ll update when this next one is done. I have two weeks to go. Wish me luck! :0)