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Talk about pressure! When recently hosting a toddler’s birthday party, I was blown away by the air time that the topic of the birthday cake received. What began as a simple bullet point on my long list of birthday party To Do’s, soon became a majorly stressful task that required every ounce of creativity, energy and imagination I could muster…
I found myself in the kitchen at 3am the night before the party, filled with insecurity and dread as I attempted to re-configure what was meant to be a barn on my ‘farm yard’ cake. The poor red barn with smudged white piping was slowly falling over and threatened to crush the little pigs and cows that were strategically placed on the coconut-green grass! After a few attempts to resurrect the poor old barn, I decided that it had to go. It was for the good for the farm animals, and as it turned out, for the good of all.
Here’s some simple advice to ensure your next birthday effort really takes the cake:
1. Delegate it: If baking, searching for complicated ingredients and confectionary you’ve never heard of isn’t really your thing, fob this job off to one of your nearest and dearest. There’s got to be someone within your inner circle who would love to do some baking for the birthday boy/girl. Make this their only job; as a solo task, it’s very achievable and a fabulous way to be involved. Suggest that you buy all of the ingredients they need and ensure they get an extra special mention on the day!
2. Charge it: If you’re really looking for something special without the stress and effort, outsource this task completely. It’s amazing what professional cake makers (is that what they’re called?) can create and with the right planning and time, you can have them create something perfectly unique and customised for the birthday girl or boy.
3. Go for it: If you do decide to create the cake yourself, reduce the pressure by buying all of the ingredients with plenty of time to spare. If you’re nervous about the results, do a trial run a couple of weeks before the party. It’s also important to follow the recipe (ahem... note to self), they’re usually written to ensure a good balance of style and substance (i.e. it not only looks fab but also tastes great).
There are some fabulous kids birthday cake cookbooks available, but none can really beat the original Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Cook Book. If you can hunt down a vintage dog-eared version from your mum’s cupboard, grab it and guard it with your life! There are also some original copies available online at places like eBay. It’s since been re-printed with a number of alternative recipes (and sadly is missing some of the old favourites). We’ve also hunted down a couple of websites that reference some of the recipes:
The Cake Mistress
...and finally, whether you choose to delegate, charge or do it yourself… there’s a tonne of inspiration to be gained form the hundreds of cake images on the website Coolest-birthday-cakes.com