Beautiful Birthday Cakes

Friday, 3 April 2009

Like most frustrated housewives, I have many an obsession (like - hiding from creeping housework). One of these obsessions is kids parties and... cake decorating. Making the cake itself is fun but decorating... that is just the funnest part.

Here are some of the cakes I've made my kids over the years... You will see they start out a bit tragic, but do get better as I get into the swing of things. You'll also clearly notice the times I was in book deadline mode - by the easy-peasy cop-out cakes!


Riley's name day cake, slathered in meringue frosting and studded with fondant fish shapes. The boat is made from paper. This idea was originally from


Riley's first birthday theme was Nursery Rhymes. Here is Mr Dumpty on his cake, about to embarrass himself. When I was a little girl, my mum used a matchbox tray to press into the icing to make brick-like patterns. Alas, this day was so stinking, filthy hot, it was a task just to spread the cake with icing let alone put dents in it. You should have seen me, armed with two knives and a full force fan, slipping and sliding that red goo from here to kingdom come. I was like an eight armed icing slathering fiend. And the chocolate egg? Moments after Riley blew out his candle, it sort of melted in on itself and did indeed fall off the wall, along with most of the icing.


This cake is so much easier than it looks. You can either use fondant icing in two different colours to make the stripes, or you can cheat and simply paint on red food colouring, like I did. You need a steady hand! The top of the cake is actually a cone of cardboard, covered in the icing, then painted. When the lid was lifted, the top of the cake was covered in red jaffa lollies. The animals were moulded from fondant which I coloured myself.


Ella's third birthday was a garden theme, complete with strawberry pinata. I’m devastated this is the only photo I have of this cake, and it’s blurred. I work my guts out on it, moulding teensy vegetables from fondant icing. They turned out brilliantly and are actually quite easy to make. I also had the unpleasant experience of someone later insinuating I had not made these vegetables myself. What a wannabe-cake-maker-loser. Trust me, I did the lot. I ‘aint no Silvia Weinstock, but I can mould fondant! I also used little tiny chocolate ‘pebbles’ as a path leading into the garden.


Easy peasy cake! Just slather it in icing and shake dessicated coconut in a bag with green food colouring. Smother the lot on, ring the cake with finger cookies and get busy with plastic decorations. Simple but a retro kids classic. Riley loved it for his third birthday cowboy party.


This cake for Ella's fourth birthday fairy party was just DIVINE. Often it’s the simplest cakes that are the most effective. Take a plain vanilla cake, fill it with jam and cream, cover in pink icing and then top with fairy floss (cotton candy). Beware, though - the floss will only last an hour or two before being sucked into sugar crystals by the icing. Decorate it shortly before serving and top with an obligatory fairy statue. Magical! See the entire party here.


This was a tough one for Riley's fourth birthday... I didn't want the ubiquitous S-shaped, red, yellow and blue cake, and I'm not a fan of pre-packaged templates to lay on top. So I decided to make a lump of kryptonite, complete with massive cachous and Superman figurine. So effective and the kids went wild. Sparklers are recommended for the full sci-fi effect.


Before we left Australia, I had an early fifth birthday party for Ella with her little kinder friends, in Adelaide (you can read about Adelaide in Beijing Tai Tai!). It was a high tea party and dress-ups theme, which you can see more on here. The cake was a little challenging - it took a lot of fiddling with the spout and handle, but you can read tips on that in the above High Tea article.


Well, I knew it had to happen. For Ella's fifth birthday in Beijing, we had to do the Barbie thing. Does anyone else have problems with the fact that Barbie's legs are too long? Or is my pudding bowl too short? A quandry. The flowers are made from fondant icing.


You may have seen this one on - yes, I'm shameless, but I think it is so adorable.


Ella's sixth birthday was, again, celebrated twice. Her birthday just falls at THAT time of year. It was a crazy tea party for her neighbour friends before we headed overseas for a few weeks. The crazier the better with this cake. Add anything and everything! We cut the cake into bits, assembled the bits in a pile and slathered with chocolate icing. Then we stuck it with candy. The kids loved to help - perfect for anal cake decorators like me who usually forbid the kids from touching.


Ella's Beijing sixth birthday party when we returned from our trip, was mermaid in theme. I couldn't be fagged doing another Barbie-on-a-rock thing, so I did the classic sand castle... upturned tubs of vanilla icecream, covered in cookie crumbs and studded with sea shell chocolates. Easy peasy, but being stinking hot in Beijing in July (of course, Ella's birthday is usually in winter Down Under), I had to work quickly!


There have been many incarnations of this fun cake - but I made it personal by creating a mini-me of every guest. I used macaroons for their heads, which rested on marshmallow pillows. I studded the icing with tiny candies and used choc buttons, cachous, slivered almonds, icing, candy and dried fruit (like mango pieces for Ella's hair) as little girl decorations. It was a hit! See my Sleeping Beauties party here.


Shamelessly easy. I was out of time for Ella's eighth birthday Mini Olympics party and ran to a local bakery in Beijing and asked for a plain cake covered in shaved chocolate. You could also do just plain frosting. Top with your chosen decoration. A wooden train. A doll. Olympic macots. Whatever. EASY!! and gorgeous. The Olympic party details can be seen here.


Because Ella's Mini Olympics party was held a month early for a photo shoot (see Mini Olympics party), I did another cake for her in July. She was hankering for a bunny cake (and a real bunny), so here it is - bunnies on grass, moulded from fondant icing. You may be able to make out a little green pond filled with green jelly (jello).


This creation was for Riley's sports party. I didn't want to do the traditional soccer field, so I moulded a little fellow from fondant icing and gave him some bubble gum soccer balls.

Seems I have a green theme going in my cakes. Yes, it's my favourite colour but maybe I need to take a good long look at my green self.


For Ella's ninth birthday, she wanted another bunny cake and I was getting short on ideas, so I thought of a close-up. You can read all about how this cake was constructed here. It's covered in seven minute [meringue] frosting and has felt ears and sparklers for whiskers. He went off with a bang!

This cake was just the easiest yet. A lump of carved cake plonked in a tray of set blue jelly (jello), coated in icing and covered in crushed biscuits. I just added chocolate coins, a plastic palm tree and stickers taped to skewers - and that was it. Super easy - really delish. You can read more about it here.

Ella's tenth birthday party, I made my favourite ever cake. Ella and I are both huge fans of lemon meringue pie, so I made a rich, zesty lemon cake, with fat juicy crumbs, and topped it with Swiss meringue icing (my fave) and torched it on the top. It smelled divine and tasted even better. I actually made the exact same cake the week before for Ella's actual birthday, and had it much higher and swirling with major peaks. The reason this one was flatter is because I let the icing sit awhile before frosting the cake. Big mistake. Ice it immediately. See more here.

For Riley's 8th birthday party, we did an easy-peasy theme (I was in book production mode, so everything needed to be easy). I just baked three rich dark chocolate cakes and sandwiched them with heaps and heaps of chocolate butter icing. It was super easy but so delish and so effective. Just let the icing drip down the sides of the cake. Jaffas around the bottom gave colour. See more here.

For Ella's 11th birthday, I made a layer cake of vanilla and strawberry layers, filled with snow white Swiss meringue icing, which is - without question - the BEST form of icing. So delicious to work with, and so gorgeous to look at (and eat!). The horse I baked in an IKEA horse form, as a cookie, and stood it on top with a skewer at the back to keep it upright. Maltesers around the periphery of the cake hide the frosting mess. See the inside of this cake here.

Another easy cake for Riley's ninth birthday. All about easy, I tinted Betty Crocker frosting and slathered it over three cakes - one made in a loaf tin, one a square tin, one a rectangular tin. I sliced off the top of each cake to make it flat, then inverted it and covered it in icing. If you do this, you will minimise the need for a crumb coat. For the connector dots, I simply iced around the edge of Oreo cookies, then plonked them on top of the cake and iced the top of each cookie. Easy peasy.

Watch this space for some more cakes! 

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