I am sure birthdays were easier when I was a kid. Obviously easier for me as all I did was turn up, (or rather get driven to the location) eat a lot of party food supplied by said venue, blow out the candles to a big chocolate cake and then smile sweetly for the camera. My Mum handed out party bags full of slices of cake wrapped in napkins, white chocolate mice, a pencil, a rubber shaped like a bear and maybe a bouncy ball. I imagine I also had some form of tantrum on the way home but luckily my memory has erased any such incident.
Talking to my Mum about the birthday parties of my youth versus the ones my sons enjoy, we couldn’t help but agree that the stakes have been raised. The last few parties my son has been to saw him leave with an individual cupcake sitting in a little box and instead of party bags full of tat, (is it just me who loves these Christmas cracker style gifts?) each left with a toy or book of almost equivalent value to the pressie bestowed on the birthday boy or girl. Partying and throwing parties is an expensive game.
Yesterday, when I asked what kind of birthday cake my eldest son might like for his fast approaching 4th birthday he replied firmly ‘a pirate ship please’. Slightly horrified at the thought of cake carving I suggested he might like a chocolate cake with some snakes and caterpillars and other bugs on it. He replied ‘yes Mummy and a pirate ship please.’ I should have kept my mouth shut.
Here’s a gorgeous cake both inside and out, impressive enough to get the all important oohs and aahs but easy enough not to result in any tears on your part. And if you have a boy and he’s not into pink then you could easily change the colours. You can watch the how to video here:
– 375g unsalted butter, softened
– 375g caster sugar
– 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
– 6 medium eggs
– 375g self-raising flour
– a few drops red food colouring
For the filling and icing
– 7 tablespoons strawberry jam
– 200g unsalted butter, softened
– 500g icing sugar
– a few drops red and green food colouring
– 1 x pack flower decorations by Sainsbury’s
– 1 x pack Happy Birthday candles
– 1 x pack butterfly cake decorations by Sainsbury’s
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC, fan 160º, gas 4. Grease and line 3 x 15cm sandwich cake tins with baking paper.
- In a large bowl beat the butter, caster sugar, vanilla extract, eggs and flour together with an electric hand mixer until light and smooth.
- Divide 2/3 of the mixture between 2 tins. Add a few drops of red food colouring to the remaining mixture and stir to combine. Spoon the remaining mixture into the third cake tin. Bake the cakes for 35-40 mins or until a skewer comes out clean. Turn out onto a cooling rack and leave to cool.
- Trim off the tops of each sponge using a bread knife to create a flat, level surface. Put one of the plain sponges onto a plate and cover the top with strawberry jam. Repeat with the pink sponge in the middle, then top with the third sponge.
- To make the icing, whisk together the butter and icing sugar. Place ¼ of the icing mix into a separate bowl and stir in the green food colouring. Add the red food colouring to the remaining icing.
- Spread the pink icing over the top and sides of the cake using a palette knife or a normal kitchen knife. Spoon the green icing into a piping bag, then pipe green stalks of the mixture up the sides of the cake.
- Arrange the flower decorations on top of each stalk, then top the cake with the Happy Birthday candles. Decorate with the butterfly decorations before serving.
Save: Chocolate flower power cake
Birthdays can be expensive, with presents to buy and food to prepare. Try this chocolate cake recipe using Sainsbury’s chocolate sponge mix, simple buttercream icing and penny sweets to save a little money.
Cheat: Simple flower power cake
Save some time with the birthday preparations with Sainsbury’s ready-covered sponge cake, and simply decorate it how you wish to add that special touch. I wish I’d done this for Charlie’s first birthday, baking past midnight should be banned!
Magic: Flower power fairy cakes
Kids seem to adore cupcakes! Make the mixture as for the large cake, but then bake it in small fairy cake cases. Decorate with pretty coloured buttercream icing and the all important sprinkles.
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