Kids birthday parties are like speed dating.
You say ‘Come at 2’, but no-one with kids is ever on time so everyone arrives at 3, you bang out a quick BBQ’d fajita fiesta, play in the garden, cut some cake and everyone leaves again before their kids turn into werewolves and pumpkins at about 5.30.
You chat to everyone for approximately 8.5 minutes, start 3 drinks but don’t finish any of them, eat a super quick plate of food that is shared by every toddler walking passed (and for some reason they all insist on biting out the side of your fajita and there ain’t no coming back from that!). I can’t speak for everyone but I spilled a little of everything on my white tee shirt (I know, what was I thinking, right?) and have ended the experience, tired, full, very smug that we have such wonderful friends and looking like I’m sporting Joseph’s Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat.
I have no idea who bought what presents as whilst I was still organising food, paper was tearing and flying through the air amid gnashing of teeth and Tonka Trucks and bubble machines were shooting around the room in haste to crack open more gifts. I wish we’d made more of ceremony of it, but realistically, that’s how we’d all like to open a stack of presents….cards be damned.
When I happened across the Vintage Edition Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book, AKA (cue singing angels) the Cake Bible from my youth, I was so excited. There were so many old friends in there. Little Piggy, Dolly Varden, Leonard the Lion, Robert Robot – it was like looking through a school year book and revisiting days of yore, but when I tried to find one for D man’s 2nd birthday, none of them seemed right. The joy was being able to pick it yourself and setting your mother to task. When I showed it to D Man, he was equally excited by every picture so I thought I needed something to really knock his socks off……who could that be? Who else but….
HOOT…….. (if you are unfamiliar with Giggle and Hoot, best get up to speed – STAT)
I used the Women’s Weekly Butter Cake recipe, paired it with the Creamcheese Frosting from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook (although I found it on the Cake Mistress’ Blog a few years ago when I made her to-die-for Carrot Cake), added a little marzipan for other bits and boom – Hoot-a-licious, Hootabulous, Hooterrific cake……..it was like crack to the toddlers. You should have seen their little faces. Their eyes widened, their lips pursed and a collective ‘Hoooooot’ was sighed as the cake lust filled their little faces. I had succeeded in my mission.
If you want some crack for kids at your next party, here’s how you do it….you’ll need to start your cake a day before as one day old cake is easier to work with.
You will need (don’t think about the butter:sugar ratio too much, it’s a special occasion!!) –
For Cake –
- 250g butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste (or essence if that’s what you have)
- 1 cup castor sugar
- 4 eggs
- 3 cups, self-raising flour – sifted (so boring, so worth it)
- 2/3 cup milk
For Icing (I had heaps left over but too much is better than not enough at the last minute) –
- 250g butter
- 375g low fat cream cheese
- 1 cup pure icing sugar (more or less to taste)
- red, yellow and blue food colouring
- two white marshmallows
- to little something’s for eyes, I used little liquorice rounds, but choc drops would work too.
- a handful of raspberry bullets
- a packet of marzipan or ready made fondant icing
Pre-heat oven to 180C. Have butter at room temperature, beat butter with vanilla until light and creamy, add sugar, beat until light and fluffy; add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in half flour with half of the milk, stir until combined, and repeat with remaining, stir lightly and then beat lightly until mixture is smooth. Spread into lined rectangular tin. I used a 13 x 9 x 2 inch tin lined with baking paper. Bake until golden and skewer comes out clean. I was about 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and put of the way of little hands that may like to sneak up over the top of the counter and grab handfuls, quickly shovel into their mouth saying ‘nyum, nyum’….learn from my mistake, people.
I’ve tried to show pictures of how I chose to shape the cake. I looked at a few Googled images of Hoot cakes, but they were mostly professionally made and sitting up, so I got a little funky with it and carved him, a la Michelangelo’s David, but in my kitchen, with a blue floral Nana apron on. Put your cake on the tray you plan on serving it on. I used a foil covered plastic tray.
For the icing, get your cheese and butter to room temperature, throw it in a bowl and beat the crap out of it until it’s light and creamy and smooth and deliciously yummy. Pop a few tablespoons into a separate bowl to turn orange for your wings. Add blue colouring, drop by drop by drop, still beating lightly until you get the desired colour. Do the same with your yellow and red to make your orange icing for wings. Keep wings separate from the rest of the cake for the moment. Spread evenly with icing, ensuring all of the cake is covered and sides are even. Don’t worry about getting it on the foil as you can run some kitchen roll (or your well licked finger if no-one is watching) around it later and clean it up. To get a smooth finish, use a big, flat edge of a knife over the lot once you’ve covered it if you don’t have a palette knife.
Ice your wings, pop them on and roll out your fondant to create eyes and heart. Add some food colouring to extra fondant for legs and beak. Place bullets on the wings like Hoot’s stitching. The beak is a bit of luck but the fondant is very malleable so have a play until it looks right. I have no suggestions for you here. This was my second attempt as the first looked like a cat’s bum.
Anyway, D Man slept like a dream last night and Mama Bear was thoroughly overstimulated. A roaring success.
Happy birthday, my special little fire chief.