Archive for the ‘Birthday cakes and other adventures’ Category

The smallest small person turned 1 this week. He’s a bruiser – loves his food, loves crawling up stairs and going down slides. He also likes cake and has been very pleased with himself when he has managed to grab some when I wasn’t looking. Here is the one I made just for him. He was too tired to eat it in the end but his brother and sister kindly helped him out. Love you baby O.



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This is what happens when a 4 year old chooses the cake for a 68 year old. It was a Treasure Island cake, complete with a volcano, sandy shores and hidden treasures (M&Ms hidden in little concealed holes in the cake). Happy birthday Rossie, I love you.


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I have been slack on both the baking and blogging fronts, largely due to an increase in work, running and sugar-avoidance. I did make this cake for a colleague tonight though and it’s ridiculous enough to share:



It’s a caramel mud cake with white chocolate ganache, a pile of green tinted coconut and a packet and a half of tv snack biscuits. I probably should have turned it around to hide the broken bits but hey, that’s how I roll (sideways and over some unexpectedly rocky patches).

And here is a photo of the cake in the wild. The cows’ feet got a little bit stuck in the grass but they were still happy. It got good reviews, which was a relief.


Happy birthday Nat.

(I couldn’t decide which photo to use so I used them all!. See previous rolling comment)

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I’m not under any illusions about my ability as a baker and cake decorator. I know too many people who are genuinely talented to indulge such fantasies. All I aim for is to make something that is recognisable and which makes the relevant birthday child feel happy and loved. Having said that, this cake came the closest to meeting my artistic vision of all my previous efforts. Yep, it’s lopsided and yep, the fondant icing melted in the humidity yet again (when will I learn? Or move to somewhere less melty). But it was fairly recognisable as a stage and backdrop and the birthday girl was beaming. To this relative success I owe thanks to:

1. A simple concept;
2. A very clever mother in law who brought me a whole stash of paper ballet dancers; and
3. The good fortune to find a lost Lego swan down the gap between the car driver’s seat and the park brake.

Here is the unadorned cake before the icing backdrop and curtains melted.


Here is the finished cake. Cool swan eh? Or, as my 4 year old Mr R referred to it, “that duck from Swan Lake”.


Happy birthday to my clever, funny, won’tputherbookdowntogetdressedforschool, beautiful 6 year old Miss B.

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Four years ago, I launched my blog (oh, the launch party – such fanfare!) with my first Daring Bakers’ Challenge. It was delayed due to the birth of my second child, Mr R. I’m not entirely sure how it has happened, but the years have passed incredibly quickly and my cheeky, funny, affectionate boy is about to turn 4. I thought he would choose a spaceship or a rocket, since he is always telling me he is going to be an astronaut (he has promised to visit me regularly), but he ended up choosing a cake in the shape of the number 4. So I combined the two concepts and made him a crazy space number 4.

Here’s how it unfolded.


the cake taking shape – I used a Nigella Lawson Devil’s Food Cake recipe


decorated – note the enthusiastic hand in the background


Couldn’t love you more, funny boy.

And big thanks to my very clever mother in law for sourcing the fantastic decorations!!

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I haven’t been baking much recently as the smallest boy doesn’t love sleeping as much as I do. So any extra energy has gone to running instead of baking. However, I had a day I which I scored a nap (gold, I tell you) and the baking urge returned.

I understand that it’s Thanksgiving in the US. We don’t celebrate it in Australia and I have always been confused by the whole pumpkin/sweet potato with marshmallows thing, particularly as it seems to be served as a side dish with savoury items. A vegetable with confectionary. I don’t get it. But then I saw this recipe for sweet potato cake with marshmallow frosting and it made a lot more sense. I was intrigued.

Here is my attempt. I decided to make individual cupcakes as I figured they would be easier to give away (I do not like to have baked goods in the house while I am breast feeding as I will eat them even though I don’t want to).

I used one purple potato and one orange one, which resulted in a kind of greyish cake. I don’t think it affected the taste, however.

Here is how it all unfolded.






And now I’m off for a run. Hopefully I can offload the cakes onto the school mums at drop off time!

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My Miss B turned 5 on Sunday. It’s been a big year for her already – she has started school and loves it. We decided to have a party in a local park and invite her whole class, which seemed like a great idea until the week of the party. Solid rain, with the forecast for the day of the party most optimistically described as “showers”. There was much frantic checking of the weather prediction sites, desperately trying to find one that promised sunshine.

There was also much late night shopping while sadly noting the onset of a head cold and cranky throat. The birthday girl had requested an Angelina Ballerina cake and I did entertain thoughts of buying a plastic Angelina to just stick on the top but apparently they don’t make them – bastards! So I turned to my modelling icing. Which turned out to be 2 years out of date. Whoops. Luckily I had some ready made fondant so I just decided to make a soft Angelina. I’m sure ballerina mice are meant to be a bit squishy, right?

And here she is, in all her stuck-together-with-skewers, poorly painted glory.

Angelina topper

I was so relieved it looked vaguely like a mouse, but also so tired, that I sent out a picture on twitter along the lines of “For the love of God, can someone please tell me they can see who this is meant to be“. Luckily lots of lovely tweeps promptly messaged back saying “Angelina!”. I breathed a sigh of relief and went to bed.

The rest of the cake construction went relatively smoothly, although my runners arms got tired from kneading colour into the icing and I gave up before I made it to the stage of uniform colour. I also realised that I’m a bit crap at applying fondant icing. Fortunately I realised at the same time that I didn’t care.

So here it is:

And it didn’t even melt at the party! I did have a few amusing moments though – including the discussion with Miss B when I first showed her the cake:

B: Is it chocolate cake?!

Me: Yep!

B: But I wanted an Angelina cake!

Me: It is an Angelina cake. Angelina is on the top.

B: But it was meant to be Angelina flavoured!

Me: (thinking WTF?) Um…what does an Angelina flavoured cake taste like?

Be: Strawberry.

Me: Ah. Well, sorry about that.

Who knew mice tasted like strawberries?

I also had a request at the party to eat Angelina’s head. I have to point out that Angelina’s head had already come off when I cut the cake, so she wasn’t asking to decapitate Angelina, but I was concerned about her request to eat what was basically a painted blob of icing (non-toxic colour, obviously!). However, she was an extremely persuasive and charming 5 year old and I eventually gave in. She was delighted to find it was an entirely icing head and quickly came back for the rest of her body. I drew the line at that though – an entire icing mouse is just not healthy.

And I almost forgot the most important parts – a) it didn’t rain; b) Miss B had a fabulous day and c) I met a whole new group of fabulous children and parents. Life is pretty damn good.

So that’s it for children’s birthdays for this year. I suppose I should actually get my act together and do some baking challenges now! Either that or convince my dad that a man in his mid 60s really wants a lion cake for his birthday…

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