Do you ever look at a friend’s homemade cake creation and wonder how on earth they made it look so good?
Do your own bakes end up looking a bit rough around the edges (but full of love)?
Do you secretly wish you didn’t end up with a baking disaster on your hands every single time?
Well read on, because I’ve come up with 3 different types of cake that will have the birthday recipient’s face grinning from ear to ear.
The Old Favourite
There were always standard birthday cakes for kids when I was growing up. One was a plastic doll whose skirt was the cake (a pudding basin had clearly been used in a timely manner). Another was a car shape for a boy (strangely, girls never got cars, as though they couldn’t possibly be interested in driving and would ever aspire to be). And then there was the chocolate hedgehog. Yep, the easiest cake ever.
Hedgehog cakeDon’t believe me? Watch this fab Betty Crocker video to prove otherwise. (You can leave out the stripper music and green grass if it’s not quite to your taste.)
Basically, all you’re doing is piling cake up, smothering it with frosting and then snapping chocolate buttons in half to place on top.
With a cake mix and ready-made frosting, what could be easier?
And what child doesn’t love a chocolate hedgehog? It’s a sure-fire winner (until the next birthday, but let’s just take one day at a time for now).
Your First Fondant-Covered Cake
So you bought ready-rolled fondant. You baked a cake that roughly came out of the tin all right. And yet somehow trying to put the fondant onto the cake resulted in a cracked, split and/or soggy mess.
Here’s how to hide the problem.
Firstly, don’t attempt to make your cake too big. An 8″ square cake should feed around 20 kids. If you’ve more mouths to feed then it’s probably best to get the professionals in.
Secondly, buy some coloured fondant to go on top. Nothing masks a problem like a distracting colour.
Thirdly, get a cutter or two. They’re great at adding impressive details without you having to do much work.
So – small cake, coloured fondant & cutters. It’ll be a cinch.
Fondant cake for motherOnce your cake has cooled (properly – don’t skip this step or you’ll end up with that soggy mess again), cover it with a thin layer of buttercream. If you’ve bought the ready-made stuff then pop it in the microwave for 5 seconds to make it easier to spread. (N.B. Don’t go over 5 seconds without checking it or you’ll end up a consistency like single cream. On the plus side, you can always drizzle it over icecream.)
Take the ready-rolled fondant and unroll it over the cake, taking care to hold it at least 3 inches away so it doesn’t get covered with buttercream on the wrong side.
Press the fondant down with the palm of your hands, smoothing it out on top and on the sides. Trim away the excess.
Wet a piece of kitchen roll and go over the cake to make it slightly sticky.
Now roll out the coloured fondant you have. Cut out 4 circles and stick them on each corner of the cake. This will hide any cracks/overlaps you have.
Take a blossom cutter and cut out little fondant flowers to stick all over the cake – anywhere there’s a crack, hole or split is perfect. They can also go around the base of the cake to hide any areas where cake’s peeking through. If you wish you can roll up tiny balls of white fondant to stick in the centres.
In the middle of the cake, put a ready-iced Happy Birthday message (you can buy these in most supermarkets).
The Person Who Doesn’t Want Their Birthday Acknowledged Birthday Cake
Black Forest GateauxYou know the person I mean. The one who’d rather not broadcast the day/ their age but you know would love a slice of something tasty.
Bring on the pudding cake. The one that doubles as a dessert at the end of a meal. The one where you can hide a multitude of sins with chocolate flakes.
Yep, I’m talking about a Black Forest Gateaux.
And if you’ve looked at the photo and already thought, “I can’t make that!” then think again.
Here are the cheats:
Use ready-made buttercream to save having to whip up double cream.
Crumble a few flake bars into a bowl to skip having to grate a bar of chocolate.
Press the chocolate flakes into the side of the cake with your hands. You can easily sweep away any that fall off.
Fill a ziplock bag with buttercream, snip the corner off and from it press out blobs of icing onto the cake.
Make sure the cherries are completely dry when you pop them on top of the cake or they’ll “bleed” into the icing.
And there you have it: your adult birthday cake with no cutesy decorations.
Have you got a foolproof birthday cake? Do share your tips below!