Friday, 20 January 2012

Birthday Cake - Friday Post Part 2

This is the second of two posts for this Friday, and if you like cake more than walking, then this is the part for you...

I have spoken before of my love of baking and celebratory cakes in general. I find the whole concept of this edible chemistry very pleasing. I'm not one of those people who produces immaculate cookery every day of the week, but for an Occasion, I love to prat around in the kitchen. So with great joy I realised I was now Someone's Mummy, and therefore in position to have to Bake a Birthday Cake. To some people this would fill them with horror, and to you I wish you all the best in your trip to Marks & Spencers. This, however, is My Kind Of Fun. Or at least, I always think it's my kind of fun, until I get halfway through it, find things are more difficult than expected and then swear lavishly at the whole cake-production process. It's an important stage, I find. I do really enjoy it though.

So here, for your delight and delectation, is how to make a pair of baby building blocks cakes for a first birthday, with the Great Birthday Cake Construction began with a day of baking 2 days before the family celebration of the Chap's first birthday...

Building Blocks Cakes - A Halfway Passble First Birthday Cake in 30 Easy Steps

1) Ever keen to make my life more difficult than it needs to be offer guests variety, decide to make 2 sorts of cake. The two on the left of the picture are Nigella Lawson ginger cakes, and the one on the right is a banana bread using my mummy's recipe.

2)Leave to cool and stowed in Tupperware overnight before The Great Day Of Cake Decoration. Feel gratuitiously smug. Aren't you organised?

3)Get up the next morning. Cut the first ginger cake in half and see - to your horror - that the damn thing is still raw in the middle.

4) apply a certain quantity of swearing, followed by cries of 'fetch Nigella!' (The plain sponge cake recipe from Domestic Goddess was employed, and while that was cooking I set about the other cake.).

5) Take one banana bread loaf, cut in two and sandwich together with buttercream to form as close to a cube as you can manage, like this:

6) Measure the sides of your cube, and then cut a cardboard template out to the right size.

7)Roll out marzipan (because a birthday cake without marzipan can be a sad thing indeed), and use your template to measure out enough to cover the four sides. brush cake with apricot jam and then apply the marzipan. A little light cake massage may be required to achieve the correct shape.

8)Cut out a square of marzipan and apply to the top. Mine looked like this:

9)Repeat using fondant icing.

10)Remove cake from oven. Test. Decide it isn't cooked yet. Return to oven.

11)Break out the food colouring and an inexpensive paintbrush. Make imperious demands on your husband to tell you things that start with the letter D. Declare that you haven't got the artistic skills to successfully render a dog in a recognisable form. Settle on ducks and dinosaurs.

12) Use a spare bit of fondant to practise your technique.

13) Furkle through the baby books in search of a satisfactory duck picture to copy.

14) Paint on ducks, dinosaurs, daisies and drums.

15) Remove cake from oven. Test. Decide it appears cooked, but you don't trust it after the ginger cake episode. Return to oven.

16) Faff around.

17) Remove cake from oven. Decide it's probably ok, but give it another 15 minutes.

18) Waste time reading Twitter feeds.

19) Remove cake from oven. Leave to cool.

20) Do other stuff for the afternoon.

21) Once your child is being bathed and put to bed by his father, cut plain sponge cake in half, to find - to your horror - that this cake has had the opposite problem to the ginger cake, and has been overcooked.

22) Have at your sponge cake with a bread knife and whittle out enough edible sponge to form something that may resemble a cube. Or not.

23) Lavishly pad cake to the same height (ish) as the first one using buttercream and jam. Apply apricot jam and add rolled marzipan. Declare that this cake looks nothing like the first - it really isn't a cube shape.

24 a) Use the phrase 'bleedin' nightmare' and 'bloody well going
to Marks & Spencers'
24) Construct false corners for two sides of your cube using marzipan, and press cake into shape using two glass placemats.

25) Add fondant icing. Massage cake again using placemats.

26) Break out the food colouring again. Have a moment of childish giggling with your husband regarding things beginning with the letter C that you really shouldn't paint on the side of your child's birthday cake. Decide cats, cherries, caterpillars and clocks are more appropropriate.

27) Realise you have given your caterpillar far too many legs to be an insect. Declare you intended it to be a centipede all along.

28) Finally finish decorating your cake, some 9 hours later than when you first set out to do it. Sit down for a cuppa and an episode of Being Human.

29) Once dry, cover with cling film and leave overnight.

30) Wake up, observe cake, have a general sense of smugness when the rest of your family see your cake and go 'oo'. Don't mention steps 1 - 29...

The finished cake - a lesson in marzipanning over the cracks....


  1. HAHA!! That is bloody marvellous and worth me being almost last for school....again! I never learn!

  2. And excellent they were, too. Who cares about a little marzipanning over of the cracks - there is no such thing as too much marzipan. Can't wait for his next birthday.