Birthday baking

One thing I really enjoy about being a stepmum is the opportunity to make birthday cakes for the kids. When I was growing up, me and my brother would always have a homemade birthday cake, so it’s something that I take for granted as part of family life. Having said that, my brother always had- and still has now if he happens to be in the country for his birthday- the same cake, which was a chocolate, nutty, biscuit, rum fridge cake. I’m not sure why my mum thought it was a good idea to give an alcoholic cake to a small child, but it was a good tradition.

Every since I first met my husband I’ve been making birthday cakes for the children. The first year they all had separate cakes- Spiderman for Sam, a princess castle for Katy-Grace and a wrestling ring for Ryan.

 

But because their birthdays are all so close together, we couldn’t eat that much cake so the next year the younger two had a joint cake. So in 2013 Sam and Katy-Grace had a lido pool cake with a playmobile family around it, and Ryan had a Smiler (Alton Towers ride) cake.

In 2014 the younger two had a minion loom band cake, and Ryan had a Shambala (Port Aventura ride) cake.

2015 had a minion beach cake and a Pac man cake, which you can see in my post Baking catch up from October 2015.

Last year we split them up again as they had separate sleepovers, so Sam had a snake cake, Katy-Grace had an Oreo cake, and Ryan had a cheesecake, but it collapsed a bit so I ended up without a photo!

Every year I plan to blog about the kids birthday cakes, as it tends to be my most creative baking, and cake is one of my four c’s! But somehow I never get round to it. As we’re going away next week and I’m going to have another travel blog to do, I thought I’d try and get this year’s cakes in while I have the chance!

Sam and Katy-Grace had a joint cake again this year, which sort of tried to tie in Katy-Grace’s current obsession with all things Harry Potter, and Sam’s constant love of sports, with a quidditch cake. I normally go to Pinterest for inspiration and bring together various aspects to make something I can feasibly make myself! I also thought I’d try and make the inside of the cake more exciting this year by having a checker board effect in the Hogwarts house colours- grey and green for Slytherin, red and yellow for Gryffindor, yellow and blue for Hufflepuff and blue and grey for Ravenclaw. I made a layer of cake in each of those colours, and then cut it into rings which slot together to make a new layer in the right colours.

Unfortunately my green dye wasn’t quite strong enough so the colour was a bit disappointing, but the rest of them were ok. I was a bit lazy at this stage, which I regretted, because I should have straightened out the tops of the cakes before cutting them. Because I didn’t, it was very difficult to get a level top on the new layer, and when I stacked them up there were bigger than normal gap at the rim. Fortunately I could fill them in with icing, but the perfectionist in me was annoyed.

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The next stage was fairly straight forward. I covered the whole cake with green icing, and drew on the pitch markings with white writing icing. I made a broomstick, snitch and the ball case out of fondant icing, and crushed up some digestive biscuits to make the sand for the bottom of the posts. The posts themselves were made out of the big gummy dummies you get in tuck shops, stuck onto a wooden kebab stick, and then covered in Brown fondant icing. They were a bit thick and bulky, but I left it too late to try and find confectioners wire to cover instead.

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The next stage was to make the spectator stands. I decided that the match was going to be between Gryffindor and Slytherin, so only made those two stands. The base itself was a chocolate cake baked in a loaf tin, which I then cut in half to get two stands. I covered each half in butter cream, and then cut out squares of fondant icing in the house colours and stuck them to the sides. The roof of the stands and the flag were also fondant, with a cocktail stick to keep it together.

I did have a bit of a problem getting the stands to stay straight next to the pitch so I ended up using a system of wooden skewers and supporting glasses in the fridge to get them to stay upright.
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By the time the kids were ready for it though, it was all staying together, and they were pretty happy with it.

Ryan’s this year was a bit more difficult to plan. I was originally intending to do something linked with his favourite rides at Europa park, which is a theme park in Germany where Steve took him for a few days at the end of the summer with his uncles as a birthday present. However, it’s not the sort of theme park that has a lot of theming so there ended up not being anything I could turn into a cake!

Instead I turned to the parks we’d been to in Florida, where our favourite rode as a family was Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I was thinking of a silhouette like the Shambala cake, but instead decided to focus on the character of the ride- which is the search for a yeti in the mountains of Nepal.

The base of the cake was a carrot cake- which I unfortunately discovered later than neither of the younger children actually like. It was covered in a cream cheese frosting, which conveniently looks like snow. I made some mountains out of black and white fondant icing. The yeti was white icing with a beard made of shop bought sugar snowflakes that I had in the cupboard (which I also scattered on top of the cake), sugar pearl eyes, and a small sharp knife to scratch on the hair. I was pretty happy with him in the end.

So that is the birthday baking haul for this year. Who knows what they’ll get next year, it all comes down to their current obsessions! I’m looking forward to the challenge though at any rate!

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