Thursday, 5 April 2012

My Very First Birthday Cake

Making my first cake turned out to be a lot harder than I thought. But I am proud of the result!!

I did it the old-fashioned way, following the instructions for butter cake that are inside the first few pages of the Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book.

I also used the vienna cream recipe as well. Doesn't "vienna cream" sound exotic? So much better than frosting. In this case the vienna cream turned out so sickly sweet that I have dubbed this Number One my Diabetes Cake. Pity the poor work colleagues who are going to have to eat it.

Here are the lessons my Diabetes Cake taught me:
  • When the recipe says "softened butter", that means room temperature, not microwave temperature. Enough said.
  • When it says sift, you better sift. I was too busy reading the recipe and rechecking it and weighing my ingredients and rechecking I had the right amounts, and before I knew it I'd dumped all the flour in without sifting. I beat that batter hard - trying pitifully to cover my tracks - but the lumps in batter betrayed me.  
  • Do not repeatedly open the oven to test if the cake is cooked. Trust the recipe. Open up five minutes before the due time, that's plenty. Do not bob up and down like a demented housewife.
  • Use the right mixing blade. Apparently one should use a certain kind of mixer blade in one's KitchenAid, or else one's cake mixture will turn out very flat and not as whippy as one expected it to be. You may then have to glue two layers of cake together with plum jam in order to give it decent height and dimension, and you will need a LOT of icing to disguise it.
  • And icing is a lot harder than it looks. There is a certain kind of spatula dexterity required, and I do not yet possess it. I ended up slapping on the icing any way I could - using a spatula, using my fingers, using a paddle-pop stick. Was my icing too thick? I think so.
  • They don't make Smarties in the same colours as they did in days of old. There are no black Smarties anymore - who knew? I haven't eaten Smarties in years, so this was something of a surprise to me. It also makes it *very* hard to reproduce the cake as it's pictured in the book. 
  • Beware the chocolate bloom. If you put the cake in the fridge overnight and then take it to work, the Smarties will get a cloudy "bloom" on them that does not help Diabetes Cake look as enticing as it should.
One cake down. 103 to go!

But hang on, I'm going to do the cartoon characters from the original book – Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and Donald Duck – as well as the ice-cream book that was taken out as well. That’s 108 all up.

So ..... one down ..... 107 to go. Gulp.


  1. Oh yes - your number 1 is stunning! I can taste the sweetness just by looking at :)
    ~ Christine xx

  2. Wow - this is such a wonderful blog! Is there any chance of taking a picture of the matching page from the book so we can remember the originals as you go along?

  3. Looks great (nice and fluorescent). Any kid would loooove it!
    I would love to see the original pic too.

  4. Madeleine and Anonymous commenter above her - that is a great idea and I can't quite believe I didn't think of doing that! It is of course *exactly* what should be done. Henceforth, expect pictures of the original cakes alongside my modern "interpretations"....

  5. Well done!! A really good job for your first cake. I bet your workmates are LOVING you at the moment with all the cake they're going to eat

  6. well done! it looks so neat and tidy!

  7. Would you like a link to an excellent page of icing tips, or are you trying to stay true to the instructions in the book?

  8. Very well done! I will get on to scanning and sending you the cakes as soon as I can. :)
    VIenna cream IS sickly sweet. A tip for spreading it- dump it on with a spoon. Then have a cup of boiling water standing nearby and drop your spatula into it at regular intervals. It makes it SO much easier to spread.

    Kirsten cake trivia- my sister made that for my daughter's first birthday. :)

  9. Love this! My Mum presented me with my very own copy of The Book on Wednesday and I've barely put it down since. I'll be making the 1 for my daughter's first birthday in June and I'm still trying to decide if I should use the Vienna Cream or the Fluffy Frosting. Hmmm...

  10. I like the idea of decorating it. The smarties can hide a multitude of sins!

  11. hi was just seeing if you minded a comment. i like your website and the thme you picked is super. I will be back. cake bakery birmingham al


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