Friday, 4 June 2010

Birthday Cakes

It seems like there have been a lot of birthdays lately, and so we made several birthday cakes in May. I always think that a cake makes a nice birthday gift that is home-made and yummy.

This cake was a gift for a student of mine for her 14th birthday. She likes doodling, and loves the way that I doodle, so I did some food coloring painting on her cake. The fondant work isn't as nice as I'd like, but she still loved it.

Chocolate Cake Recipe


1 cup plain flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup vanilla sugar (if you don't have it, just use normal sugar)
2 Tsp. baking powder
2/3 cup milk (room temperature)
1 egg (room temperature)
1/4 cup butter (room temperature--it should be soft, but not melted)
1 Tbsp vanilla


1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Grease and flour a medium sized cake tin.

2. Sift in the dry ingredients, then stir lightly. Add the remaining ingredients and mix into a smooth batter.

3. Bake until a knife comes out clean (about 25 minutes).

To decorate:

1. Either make and roll out fondant icing, or roll out pre-made fondant.

2. Heat jam of choice in a saucepan, stirring constantly, until it starts to boil. (I used home-made rosehip and apple jam.)

3. Paint the jam over the cooled cake. I used a silicone pastry brush.

4. While the jam is still hot, lift the fondant over the cake and smooth.

5. Use a small paint brush or point (the point of a wooden skewer works well for details) to paint the cake with food colouring.

My daughter Miriam celebrated her 4th birthday in May! On one hand she seems so big and grown up, and on the other hand it's hard to believe that my little girl is already four. The only thing that she asked for was a pink bike with a pink helmet, so she was very excited to get a bike for her birthday. (We're still working on learning to ride it...unfortunately her little sister gets a bit jealous and tries to climb on with her, so it's hard for Miriam to really ride it. Also, she has a weird tendency to petal backwards.) She enjoyed some other goodies, like new art supplies, as well.

Miriam's favourite food in the world is strawberries. So it wasn't really a surprise that she asked for a strawberry birthday cake shaped like a butterfly.

Strawberry Cake Recipe


1 1/3 cup flour

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup strawberry milk powder (like strawberry nesquick, only I used Asda's brand)

2 Tsp baking powder

2/3 cup milk (room temperature)

1 egg (room temperature)

1/4 cup butter (room temperature)

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

(if desired: add a handful of chopped dried strawberries)


Follow the same instructions as for the chocolate cake above. (Sift dry ingredients, then blend all of the ingredients. Bake in a greased and floured pan at 350F/180C.)

To decorate:

1. Roll out fondant.

2. Boil strawberry jam. (Do not overboil because it will go too thick and sticky. Bring it to boiling point and then remove from heat.)

3. Paint the cake with the jam, and then cover with fondant.

4. Smooth and cut off any extra fondant.

5. Decorate! I cooked this in a butterfly shaped cake mold, so then I just decorated with coloured icing and candles.


Miriam wanted to bring cupcakes to preschool to share with her friends. Here's a recipe for easy plain cupcakes.


1 1/3 cup flour

2/3 cup sugar

2 Tsp baking powder

2/3 cup milk

1 egg

1/4 cup butter

1 tbsp vanilla extract


1. Mix all ingredients with an electric mixer to make a smooth batter.

2. Bake in paper or silicone cupcake cases at 350F/180C for about 17 minutes.

3. Decorate. I piped on a simple chocolate butter cream (butter, icing sugar, vanilla extract, a few drops of milk, and cocoa), and then Miriam added pink sprinkles.

All of the cake recipes are variations on my standard cake recipe that can be adapted to pretty much any flavour and always turns out perfectly. To see the full recipe (adapted for lavender cakes), click here.

Happy Birthday to anyone else who's celebrating birthdays right now!

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