Shove an exploding candle up the arse of any animal cake you make and you are pretty much guaranteed success at a children’s party. I learnt this when trying to salvage ‘bunny cake one’ at my kid’s sixth birthday party.
As one Dad said-“ it looks like roadkill, but it tastes better than it looks.” I had totally cocked-up the cake. I made the elementary mistake of icing the thing the night before with a cute bunny face. By morning the icing had run and the thing looked truly satanic. The rest of the icing was sort of glistening, but not in a glossy appetising way, in more of a melting, mushy slightly revolting way. My solution was to cover the entire thing with desiccated coconut. Sort of furry like a bunny and hiding the evil glare of its drooping eyes and whiskers.
Come party time and the kids were eying this baked masterpiece with not a small degree of suspicion. I heard one wise soul advising her brother ‘not to get too close to it, just in case.’ Thankfully I had kept my secret weapon up my sleeve and just as the crowds looked at the point of rebellion I lit a candle sparkler and shoved it in the approximation of my best guess at bunny’s bottom.
It was a triumph. “That is one big blow off” said an older brother of a guest in true awe at the majesty of the moment. The day was saved.
Bunny cake two (long and not v exciting story but kid had changed schools 4 days before her birthday necessitating two parties on concurrent days) was all about lessons learnt from bunny one. No icing until an hour before the party and I altered the shape of the thing to make it less like obese rabbit roadkill. I kept the cute mega sized ears that I had made of card and glued onto wooden chopsticks. This time to get them to stay in place I wrapped an apple in icing and stuck the ears securely into that. It also had a firework up its bunny botty, and again it brought the house down.
Other cakes to mention. Woodland theme. Was struggling with this until I hit upon the idea of using those little Schleich animals to set the scene. A squirrel and a couple of badgers later and this cake was well on track. I then raided the shelves of Sainsburys for ‘nice tasting stuff that sort of looks like mud, twigs, logs etc.’ There is a surprisingly large amount of this. Flakes, obviously, and matchstick chocolate and sprinkles. I added some red sweets with dots of white icing for mushrooms and a few artfully scattered iced flowers. The whole thing was set on a base of green icing and job done.
For a princess party I was all ready to out-source the cake manufacturing until I was told that my little princess’ princess cake would set me back £90. I hastily ordered the kit to make my own version, spending, all told including ingredients, probably something close to £90. Obviously there will be a major cost saving the next time I use it.
So the gist is you sort of bake a big bowl of sponge for the dress and then bung a Barbie in it. Key thing to note is the necessity of affixing the metal pole thing in the cake bowl before it goes into the oven. This is not an optional extra. Without it the heat does not conduct through the cake and it will take about 4 hours in the oven to cook in the centre while the outside is charred beyond recognition. Another sensible suggestion i think is to always buy double the amount of ingredients you think that you are going to need. It saves going out again when you mess up the first one and you are always going to need eggs and flour lasts forever.
Anyway once you have your big bowl of sponge you turn it out and hey presto the big poofy skirt of the cake is ready to ice and decorate it in any way you like. I bought this device for making little icing flowers that was easy and enormously satisfiying. Or you can buy ready made flowers, little pearl decorations, the options are endless.
With the skirt completed you can then either pop the dolls head and torso, supplied with the kit, into the cake or you can take an inspired leap into customisation. For me the doll they supplied just looked a bit midwest Mary so I went down the route of the latter, buying a pound shop doll, ripping off her legs and jamming her into the top of the cake.
You will see from the photos that she does appear slightly pissed and/or to be giving the old prince a cheeky sideways glance. I also did have to ram a chopstick up her back to stop her from falling over entirely. My husband was concerned that as I presented the masterpiece to the table Barbie’s disfigured torso would tumble out of the cake and ignite panic amongst the party guests. Luckily she stayed put.
Final example for now was the cake I made for my girl’s pyjama-themed party. This was reasonably straightforward. I made a rectangular cake for the bed base and iced it. I then used doubled up chocolate fingers for little bodies and covered them in icing a la duvet. I then had little cookies for heads and used whatever I could find in my kitchen for eyes and hair. The eyes made of cloves looked particularly fetching and long lashed. Red bear rolls for hair. Raisin for a bun. You get the idea.
If it all goes wrong cover the thing in smarties. It hides a multitude of sins and kids will always think its brilliant.
Sparkler up the arse, accompanied by fart jokes, are a winning combo.
Very hard to cock-up cake recipe
Weigh four large eggs and put in the same weight of soft lightly salted butter, caster sugar and self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
100g butter, softened
200g icing sugar
50ml double cream
Preheat the oven to 180C (350F/gas mark 4) and grease containers. Put the butter and sugar into a food mixer, or use a wooden spoon and beat until fluffy.
Beat the eggs together and add to the mixture a little at a time.
Fold in the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt,
Put in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden and well risen. (time may depend on what container you are cooking in) Check with a skewer that will come out clean if cooked.
Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then put on a wire rack to cool. Ice.