Category: Birthday cakes

Tessa’s mini birthday cake

Cakes gone by…

Tessa Mini Birthday cake

I had worked with Tessa for nine years when I found out that she was about to have a (I won’t say big!) birthday. I wanted to make her a little cake for the occasion. One that I could carry into the office on the train, that wouldn’t get ruined on the 20 minute walk to the train station.

The cake

My plan was to make it small in diameter but taller than my usual cakes. I actually used the Lakeland pork pie tin to make it! It’s only 4″ diameter!  I love these proportions and should make my cakes taller more often!
It was a Madeira cake with a buttercream filling. I covered the cake and board with pink icing in one go- rather than separately. This is a great way to keep the cake central on the board. It’s also a lot quicker to do!

Tessa Mini Birthday cakeThe flowers

I made the flowers in pale pink sugarpaste, using a blossom shaped plunger-cutter and then used a decorators tool to lightly emboss lines into the centre of each petal. When they were dry I used a pink gel food colour to paint the centre of the flowers. The colour pools inside the lines which gives them more definition and a cuter appearance. Finally I gave them a really light dusting of edible shimmer (the white/silver one). If I was making this cake now I would have added a small dot of royal icing in the centre of each flower to finish it off.
To arrange the cake I piped pale green lines for stems from the cake board up, with a few iced leaves then added the flowers all over. I cut out the ’60’ sign from sugar paste and used royal icing to write the name on the board.

The art of giving

This is one of my earlier cakes and I got all self conscious when it came to giving it to Tessa. I’m known for being a bit extra and suddenly thought I was a bit over the top for making her a cake. She wasn’t even in my department! But I think she’s great! Anyway, I waited for her to come out of a meeting…… and waited…… and waited. (There’s a lot of waiting around for meetings to end …… and start on magazines!) So in the end I left the cake in its box with pretty ribbon wrapped around it, on her desk. Yes, I chickened out! Tessa’s team had bought her presents and cards which were on her desk too, so it was a lovely surprise when she finally came out of the meeting.
Of course she loved the cake and the fact that I had made a special effort for her. Why on earth would anyone ever not like to be made a special cake! I am funny sometimes!!!


Spiderman Birthday cake

Cakes gone by…

Spiderman birthday cake

This Spiderman birthday cake is the very first cake I ever made for someone I didn’t know at all. I was petrified!

I have mentioned before that at the beginning of my cake decorating experience Tim said I should offer to make cakes for all of the parties that Beau and Darcey were invited to. Well, Ryan who was at nursery with Darcey was the first party invite we received. I can tell you I was really nervous just offering my cake services to anyone- even though it was for free. I was really worried that it might be the wrong thing to do or I might offend someone, but that was far from the truth.

When I phoned Ryan’s mum she was so sweet, she said “That would be lovely, he’s into Spiderman. Bring your business cards and I can hand them out to the other mum’s at the party!”  Of course I didn’t have any and was nowhere near that stage, but what a lovely gesture.

The plan

I knew exactly what I wanted to achieve. The cake was to be in the shape of Spideman’s head and was to be a nice oval mask shape.  I removed the top edges of the cake so that the nose shape came up in the middle (I didn’t want a completely flat cake – although looking back I would make this much more pronounced now!)

I covered the cake in red sugarpaste then lifted it up onto the white covered cake board and secured it in place with royal icing. I always knew I would ice spider’s webs in black royal icing around the edge of the cake to give it another dimension. I think the more detail you add to a cake board the more personal and better the cake looks.

To make the eyes I cut out paper templates until they were the right size and shape then placed them over rolled out sugarpaste and cut them to size. I set them aside ready for when I had done the lines over the cake.

Icing in straight lines

I usually have particularly steady hands but that didn’t stop me being really, really worried about doing the lines across the face. I mean once they are on they will make a really big mess if you try to remove them and start again, especially as they are black! I decided then and there that there is no point in worrying about it – you have to just do it! This has been my ethos from the start really. You have to do the lines so just get on with it already!

So, off I went, and as with most things that you are initially worried about, it wasn’t as difficult or scary as I thought it would be. The lines aren’t perfect but for a first attempt I was pretty happy.

While the icing was still wet I positioned the eyes. All that was left to do was to ice the name, age and add the spiders webs.

The party

The next day we went along to the soft play party with 20 other children. As the kids were only 3 years old all the mums had to stay and they all loved the cake, but none as much as Ryan – which was fantastic.

So I had my first cake under my belt and I thought offering my cake services would be easier after such a positive experience, but as I would come to discover in the coming months, it wouldn’t.


Moshie Monster Birthday Cake

Cakes gone by….Moshie Monster birthday cake

In my review of ‘Cakes gone by…’ I found the photo of this one lurking on my laptop.  I made it for my friends son last year (wow that was a year ago! Where did that go?)

All the kids at school are mad on Moshie Monsters. If you don’t know what Moshie Monsters are, they’re these cute critters on a website where kids create and name their own monster and go on missions. They all interact with each other. It’s all logic and puzzle solving and kind of learning. Beau loves it. There are stickers to collect and toys and everything.

Anyway, this was one of the first larger 3D character cakes that I made. Charlie’s mum gave me a print out of his monster, so I would get the colours and shape right (there are some very odd characters) This is Furi.

Stacking the cakesI made three round Madeira cakes and cut each one in half, filled it with buttercream and jam then sliced the sides off till it was the right shape. I then covered the outside with a thin layer of buttercream and cut out loads and loads and loads of triangles from sugarpaste. Each triangle was attached (to the buttercream) from the bottom up and it took ages, but it created the perfect feathery fur effect.

Moshie Monster cake - eyesI then made the eyes, mouth and cheeks. I dug out a little bit of cake where the mouth was so that it looked open when I applied the black icing. The hands and feet were made from sugarpaste as was the ‘FURI’ name. These were attached with royal icing.

The cake was a big hit and the young boys at the birthday party wouldn’t let my friend cut it up. How much of a compliment is that? Nine year old boys not wanting to ruin my cake. I was very touched.


Beau’s sleepover cake

How to make a simple sleepover cake

Beau was eight years old on Monday. Her birthday cakes have got more and more detailed and adventurous  as I have got more experienced and she has got older. When asked what cake she wanted this year she said

“ I want a two tier cake like a wedding cake with me sleeping on the top and my friends sleeping on the bottom of the cake” !!!!!!!

She was obviously having her first sleepover party.So we compromised. Beau’s main cake which we cut at her party, had her sleeping on a big bed and each of her friends had a separate mini ‘bed’ cake of their own, in which they were sleeping and could take home with them the next day.
The idea was to make all the cakes sit alongside each other so that it felt like one big cake.I used my favourite chocolate cake recipe (below) which is really chocolatey, super quick to make and super light and fluffy.

Two bowl chocolate cake recipe


3 tbsp hot water
3 tbsp cocoa powder
100g soft butter
100g caster sugar
100g Self Raising Flour
2 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp vanilla essence

To make the chocolate cake

Grease two 18cm sandwich tins (I used 3 x the ingredients and 3  loaf tins for this cake). Line the bottoms with baking paper. Heat your oven to 180C, gas mark 4.

Sieve the cocoa powder into a bowl, then add the hot water and blend really well until there is  no dry powder left. Set to one side to cool.

In another bowl mix all rest of the ingredients together until well blended and then add the cocoa mixture and blend again.

Spoon the mixture into the tins and bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out dry. This cake rises a little so you can also test that it’s baked by pressing down on the top of the cake. If it springs back it’s ready. If it leaves a finger print or takes a while to rise up again it will need a little longer in the oven.

Chocolate buttercream

Ingredients to fill and cover a two bowl chocolate cake

75g soft butter
100g icing sugar
½ tsp vanilla essence

2 tbsp cocoa powder

How to make the buttercream

Put all of the ingredients into a bowl then blend until really light and fluffy. This makes enough to fill an 18cm cake and cover the top (and sides if you don’t use it too thick)

To make the sleepover cake

Cover your cake boards with sugarpaste. Use a patchwork cutter to create a pattern in the ‘carpet’. Leave to dry for at least a week. If you use it straight away it may dent when you touch it!

Cut the cake to size and add buttercream

I used three times the recipe to make three loaf sized chocolate cakes. One cake was used for the main bed and the other two were cut into rectangles for the smaller beds. Each cake was cut in half and had buttercream added to the centre.

 Cover each cake with chocoalte buttercream

It’s a good idea to bake the cakes in advance to decorating them. If it’s really, really fresh this cake will just crumble when you apply the buttercream.  24 hours after baking is a good time to decorate. Once the cake is iced it’s sealed so it will stay moist and fresh.
Add buttercream to the top and sides.

cover each 'bed' cake with white icingCover each cake with white sugarpaste then secure the cake in place on it’s cake board with a little royal icing. This creates the ‘sheet’ over the bed.

 Add the detailed trim to the bed

Use edgers to make strips of decorative sugarpaste and secure them along the bottom of the bed. Use Royal icing as glue.

Add details on the trim

Use a sugar craft tool, or the end of a paintbrush to give the valance more detail.

Add a pillow and a headMould a piece of white sugarpaste into a rectangular shape for the pillow. The heads are made from marzipan which has been coloured with a tiny bit of  food colour (paprika  is perfect for a skin tone). Use a very thin paintbrush to add the colouring of the eyes, eye brows mouth and cheeks. A tiny ball of marzipan is used to create a nose.

 Fake a body

Roll a sausage shaped piece of marzipan for the body. Taper it in at the end where the feet would be. Secure it to the bed.

Roll out a piece of coloured sugarpaste for the blanket. Leave it long enough that it will drape over the edges of the bed. Make sure each little lady is well tucked in up to her neck.

 Paint on the face and ice the hair

Colour royal icing to add the hair. Then all that’s left to do is add the names on each cake board and the ‘Happy Birthday’ on the largest cake board.

While I was finishing this cake Beau and Darcey made some accessories that you would find in their bedroom. They made books, hats and a dolls house that opens up. Beau even made a train complete with track which they positioned all over the cakes.

In all the cake was a big success. I think all the guests liked it that they could take home their own Mini Me! Beau obviously had a great time as you can see below.


How to make a football shirt cake

How to make a Football shirt cake

To date, I have been asked to make three football shirt cakes and I think it will always be a popular design. Each one has been for a different team and each one has been a new challenge.

So far I have always used a Madera cake (recipe here) for this shape and I bake the cake in a rectangular tin. If you don’t have one tin large enough you can always use two square tins, but this makes it quite tricky when you need to lift the cake onto the board.

The first time I made this design (the Manchester United one) I shaped it so there was a big gap between the sleeve and the body and as I was so inexperienced the icing tore under the arm leaving gaps on both sides. I also didn’t roll the icing out thick enough – It took me a long time to master this trick. Icing should always be around 5mm thick before you even think about lifting it up over a cake. That way there will be plenty of give and it will stretch without tearing much more easily. After three failed attempts I had to patch the holes with more icing which didn’t look great! That’s when I came up with the idea to have a scarf over the cake to disguise any holes, but it has now become a feature. Don’t you love it when a great idea comes out of a huge disaster?


Since that first cake I have always made sure that the arms of the shirt are positioned close to the body so there are no awkward crevices to fill and no torn icing!.

Before I start a football shirt cake I always check out the colours and the logos on the shirt. If they really can’t be easily reproduced with icing I have them printed onto sugar paper with edible ink. Most cake decorating shops will do this for you for a small charge but you can email on line companies too, but that takes a lot longer! The print outs come on a sheet of edible paper and you have to cut out the badge carefully with scissors and then dampen the back. As it’s sugar paper it will become very sticky so it’s easy to position.

You will need:

A covered cake board

A Madeira Cake

Football shirt template cut from paper (see here)



Palet knife

Bread knife

sugarpaste / roll out icing

Icing smoothers

Letter/ number cutters

A damp sponge

To make the cake

Make a template by cutting a piece of paper to the same size as your cake tin. Shape the shoulders and neck then cut out the sides to reveal the sleeves. Make sure you don’t make the shape too intricate. Keep it simple.

Cut the cake in half  through the middle and add the butter-cream and jam with a spatula. I always use seedless raspberry jam(heated up for a minute in the microwave to make it runny). Sandwich the two sides together and make sure that the cake is nice and flat.

Place the template on the cake and cut away the excess with a bread knife. I always put the first layer of icing on the cake before I put it on the cakeboard, that way I make less marks on the board. Do this by smearing a small layer of buttercream over the entire cake. Roll out the shirt coloured icing so that it will cover the length and sides as well as the width and sides of the cake with a little to spare. Lift the icing carefully – supporting it from underneath. When you lift up icing it stretches- a lot!- so the more you support it the better it will look on the cake.

Once you have positioned the icing over the cake use a smoother to smooth all the areas. Use the cusp of your hands to do any corners and edges. Cut away the excess icing and neaten with a flat smoother.

Secure the cake on the cake board with a little royal icing. Keep in mind where you want the scarf or writing to go so there is plenty of space.

Next add the sleeves. I rolled out the black icing, laid it gently over the cake then marked where it needed to be cut and shaped it on a cutting board. That way I wouldn’t mark the white icing or cut into the cake by accident. I used a damp sponge to make the icing stick in place.

Add any sleeve details and badges or logos to the front of the shirt. You don’t have to copy the real shirt exactly. The colour of a shirt is a big giveaway so making it personal with the age as the number on the shirt and the name on the front always seems to go down well.

Cut a narrow strip and create a neck on the shirt.

I cut out the numbers and names from thin icing sugar or floral paste with cutters and let them dry for 1o minutes so that they are easier to handle and don’t loose their shape. If the icing gets stuck inside the cutters rub a little icing sugar inside. If there is a really difficult number/letter I usually cut it twice in one go. That way I can press them both out at the same time with a dry paint brush and only the top shape is damaged and dented, leaving the one on the bottom in perfect shape! 

Position the name and age/team number on the front with either a damp sponge or with edible glue

To make the scarf I make the stripes and roll them flat so they stick together. For the tassels cut a small square of icing the same width as the scarf. Use a sharp knife to cut lines in the square from a few mm from the top. Lift up as you cut each strand as this makes the tassels look like they have been ruffled. Position each tassle underneath the end of the scarf.

Use a small amount of royal icing to secure the scarf to the cake.

And there you have it. A football shirt cake.


How to make a Hello Kitty cake

 My youngest daughter Darcey was 5 last week and after changing her mind about 100 times she finally decided upon a Hello Kitty cake for her party.  It was a really easy and straight forward cake to decorate. I used a Madeira cake (recipe here) as always and this time made a square cake to cut the shape from.

First I cut out a piece of paper to the same dimmensions as the cake tin and then drew the shape of the head to fit as big as possible. Then I cut out the pattern.

Lay the pattern over the cake and make any necessary adjustments now.

Cut away the cake (this is always a great part as you can test the cake!

I smooth the very edges of the cake so that it has a softer look once iced. I do this very gently with the palm of my hand, but you can use a really sharp knife.

Once shaped cover the cake with a thin layer of buttercream

Roll out a piece of sugar paste that will cover the whole cake and down the sides. Smooth it with your palms and then a smoother tool then position the cake on the cake board or plate with a little royal icing. 

Roll out some black sugar paste and cut out two eyes. Use a small amount of icing rolled into a ball for the nose. I used yellow but was reliable informed by Beau (my 7 year old) the next morning that I should have used pink!  I corrected it after these pictures were taken! 

The whiskers are black sugar paste that has been rolled out into thin strips and left to dry over night so that they can hold their shape and protrude out over the edge of the cake. 

I made the bow with two oval pieces of pink icing. Each piece is folded in half and bunched up in the middle. I then positioned a ball of pink sugar paste on top where the two ‘ovals’ meet, hiding the join. Stick it to the cake with a little royal icing. Roll up some baking paper and slip a piece into each bow to hold it a little open allowing it to dry in that position. You can remove it after a few hours. I leave it over night.

Lastly I added the writing (which I am still perfecting!) and finished off with a little flower as Darcey is a proper girly girl! 

Happy Birthday Darcey Doodles! We love you!

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