If you can find time, baking your own birthday cakes can be fun and satisfying, and they usually taste better than shop-bought ones, too.
If you haven’t had much practice, start with a simple lemon cake, a fluffy sheep or a curly caterpiller for easy cakes that still have the wow factor, or even a Cat with Kittens that only needs decorating.
Then up the ante and turn your talents to chocolate robots, a colourful pirate ship or a flowering garden and, finally, when you feel ready, try the jaw-droppingly impressive swimming pool cake or fairy princess cake, complete with doll!
And we’ve snuck in a couple of recipes that aren’t cakes at all but that look fantastic – easy-peasy Buzzy Bees, scene-stealing Whoopie Pies and the latest craze – Cake Pops.
Go on, unleash the icing artist within. Kids will love these cakes and treats and we promise they won’t mind if they’re a bit wonky!
Annie Rigg’s Lemon Cake
This is a deliciously light lemon layer cake recipe. Go wild with the decorations and use lots of different varieties and colours of sweets. The cake can be assembled and iced in advance but don’t add the sweets until about 1–2 hours before serving otherwise they will soften and bleed into the frosting.
Annie Rigg’s Fluffy Sheep
This is a very simple cake to make and assemble and can be easily baked on the day of the party. You only need one cupcake so freeze the rest for another time.
Fiona Cairns Crispy Mars Bar fridge cake
This friendly robot recipe will delight any young child, both to help create and as a birthday party centrepiece. Make several batches and assemble an army!
Annie Rigg’s Flowering Garden Cake
This is a perfect cake to get the kids involved in. They’ll have great fun decorating their own flowers. The fairy cake recipe makes more than you will need for the garden but any extras can either be served alongside or frozen un-iced for use another time.
Fiona Cairns Pirate Galleon all-in-one chocolate cake
Pirates and Treasure Island are such popular themes for small boys’ birthday parties, this recipe is certain to be a huge success. It’s not difficult to make. Do make sure you use skewers to support the boat!
Fiona Cairns’ Little Monsters cup cakes
The more revolting and gruesome the better! A great recipe to get children involved: just give them the icing, colours, a piping bag or two (and this photo to spark their imaginations) and leave them for an hour or two! You could use food colouring pens too (although the sugarpaste will need to have dried overnight first).
Whoopie Pies are the latest craze to arrive from the US and are hitting stores and bakeries everywhere! A great whoopie pie should be moist, dense and slightly sticky – the perfect hybrid of cake and cookie, with a generous mouthful of filling in every bite.
Whoopie Pies, by Jill Collins & Natalie Saville, D&C books
Annabel Karmel’s Cat with Kittens
The beauty of this cake is that it is very quick to make and there is no baking involved.
Swimming Pool cake
Of all the things at a children’s party, the birthday cake is probably the most memorable of all. This one may take a little more time than other cakes but broken down into its component parts it’s actually not difficult to make and it will certainly make the children want to dive in.
Fairy Princess cake
This cake is not difficult to make but it looks quite spectacular. You can make this ahead of the party and pop it into the freezer before decorating. Bake this cake in a fairly deep round Pyrex bowl to make the skirt and then cut a hole through the centre of the cake and insert the doll. The bowl should be at least 5 1/2 inches deep. You can buy in some specialist shops a doll decoration which is simply the top half of the doll on a spike.
Follow the new craze of creating lollipops out of cake and make these fun Cake Pops!
Our recipe gives you the basic recipe and techniques, but it’s probably best to refer to the book for alternative colours, flavours and decorations. Top tip – use chocolate callets to dip the pops – pieces of chocolate available in lots of flavours used by chefs and chocolate fountain companies. Normal bars of chocolate don’t melt!