Being she of many many children, birthdays do come round very frequently in our household. I had somewhat promised my children, following my rediscovery of baking, that I would make their birthday cakes. The first one was last December when I made this one for my fourth child.
It was one that I had made once before but I had lost the recipe and had to just wing it and be creative with some parts of the process (like realising that I needed dowel rods after halfway assembling it – doh).
So, somehow when July 31st arrived, it was comical how I was freaking out at the fact that I had a day to bake and decorate Zak’s birthday cake for his 7th birthday party planned for the 2nd of August. I had had a wee chat with Zak about what sort of cake he wanted but honestly, by that time he was so over the moon at the idea of having a big party, he was pretty much incomprehensible. It was pretty much left to him and if it had been left to Slaveboy to decide, he would have just insisted that I bought one as I was snowed under with stuff like doing lunches for the summer workshop week at the local home educating organisation my children used to go to. It would have been the wise thing to do as I was coming home dead tired every day and the cake recipe I had chosen to use for his birthday cake was one I had never tested myself. I only had Spiker’s version to go by (which was yummy) and she is afterall a witch as she makes things out of holes (a.k.a. knitting).
The actual making of the cake was not tricky at all, but the baking part took a little thinking through (something I am not naturally predisposed to). The cake recipe was for a 30cm (12inch) round cake tin and it required over 2 hours of cooking – 2 hours of which you MUST NOT open the oven door unless you want to have a sunken cake. I had wanted to make an oval shaped cake which meant I was going to bake the mix in two tins, a round one and a square one. The plan being that once baked, I would cut the round one in half and attach them to either end of the square cake. That part was simple enough.
What I hadn’t anticipated for was the fact that my wee oven might not be man enough to deal with the two cakes being baked at the same. I hadn’t realised this until after I had started the baking process, and whilst reading the comments on the recipe page, I stumbled upon several comments that the cake was prone to rising and/or spilling out of the tin. Now, there was little risk of the mix spilling over as I had double lined the tins to around two inches the height. The concern was that I might have minimal clearance between the top of the cake when it is rising and the ceiling of my oven cavity.
So, I spent a good part of the 2 hours sat on the floor of my kitchen (thankfully my OCD phase had just been and I could have scraped Dettol from off of my kitchen floor) watching the cakes. You should know by now that I prefer to panic whilst remaining stationary. My 3rd daughter intermittently sat with me too, and other times she was falling over me as she scurried around me doing the washing up. She is such a darling.
The cakes baked pretty well. The top one was a little cracked, I think this was because it was so near to the heat source but because the cake is meant to be so moist, it actually didn’t suffer from the slight overbaking. Also, I turned both cakes upside down as I wanted a flat surface for the decorating.
And now I have got you reading this far, I just realised that I hadn’t told you what the cake was supposed to be. As part of the party entertainment, Mark (my prodigal stepson) had said that he would set up a 6-lane Scalectrics track. The actual set up was massive. Have a look at some of the pictures I have attached below.
Anyway, the rational thing to do was to make him a racetrack cake really. I distinctly remember having that sinking feeling Friday night, when I was in bed that I had forgottento buy the fondant icing. Even worse, I really had NO idea how much fondant icing I needed and what exactly the design was going to be like. I didn’t really spend that long worrying about it because before I knew it, it was 7.30 in the morning, and it was time to get up. The cake decoration lady found me waiting outside the shop at around nine-ish and let me in early because I had that manic look of a mother who had stupidly decided to take on a task far too big for her baking abilities. I think I bought them out of fondant icing (I bought most their white ones as I had this blind faith that I could dye it with my liquid concentrated food dye).
Having had NO time to slice and and ice the cakes with buttercream, I abandoned the plan to take the cakes to Spiker’s so we can decorate it together (which would have been a better idea) and decided to just go over there so we can make these roadcone shaped cakepops. You might want to read about it here, AFTER you have made fully sure that you are a paid-up member of the I-do-my-pelvic-floor-exercise-daily society.
So, the cake decorating took place the eve of Zak’s birthday party, in between making mini New York style cheesecakes and raspberry & white chocolate muffins. I have to say, the cake is quite forgiving and tolerated a fair amount of handling as I sliced them up and lined them up so that they looked as oval shaped as possible. The buttercream was a dream to make and I really do enjoy the icing sugar clouds that appear whenever I make buttercream icing in the quantity that cakes such as this one require.
For the fondant icing, I dropped a few drops of green concentrated liquid food dye onto the white fondant icing and kneaded it until the colour became consistent and to the shade I wanted. I discovered that I had to ice it in stages as I simply couldn’t roll out a piece big enough to cover the cake without causing it to break or tear when I am trying to move it. So, I rolled out a strip long enough to go round the side (I wanted to say sides but his cake hasn’t got sides) and then rolled out an oval shaped one to cover the top. I then smoothened the seams with my fingers and a bit of water.
And this is what the end product looks like. Zak was really thrilled with it – we kept being told by him that it was the best birthday party ever and he is still very stoked about it today. It is now the day after the party and we have about 4 slices-wroth left.