Top Five Easy Birthday Cake Ideas

27 June 2011

children eating cakeHave you ever considered baking your own birthday cakes? Now, before you run away screaming, stay with me a moment.

I am not one of those mummys that has a house full of eco friendly toys, turns up to school fetes with perfectly decorated cupcakes, or knits her own yoghurt.

My baking is pretty rubbish really. But I do it anyway mostly because I like it. Baking is dead easy. You follow the instructions (and if you don't have anything to measure in, like me, then a cup is a tea cup, and a tablespoon is about two and a half dessert spoons), pop it in the oven, and in about 15 minutes (for a dozen cupcakes or cookies) you have the house smelling luscious and everyone talking about how fabulous you are.

In short, I'm lazy. I want maximum returns for minimum effort. I want to bask in adulation and admiration, and have people gasp at my domestic prowess. Naturally this does not involve bringing them around to my house. All illusions would be well and truly shattered.

When it comes to a home made birthday cake, you want something that looks fabulous but really can be done by anyone who has zero artistic ability. And doesn't really know how to bake. So here's the top five, easy, birthday cake ideas that I managed to find.

Matthews birthday cake1 Smashable Cake

The top spot belongs, without a doubt, to PlayPennies reader Nicki, mum to three aged 6 and under. This is the birthday 'cake' for her son's third birthday. It is a smashable cake. The chest is a chocolate shell. With the help of a hammer, the child can smash it open, to reveal treasure (lots of gold wrapped chocolate coins).

Nicki says "I used a plastic tupperware container, brushed it with vegetable oil and put it in the freezer for an hour. Then melted chocolate melts in a double boiler and using a pastry brush created a mold. I put the chocolate back in the freezer to set." She used icing pens to decorate the chest. The sand is soft brown sugar.

Her son had a great time, armed with dad's hammer, reducing the cake to pieces.

I really don't think it can get much easier than that to create a cake that will impress children and adults alike.

Snake cake2 Snake Cake

One reason I'm put off making a birthday cake is that in the week before a birthday party there's just so much to do. I work from home, but still I work full time. So fitting it in is pretty tough. I love the idea of this cake, which I found on an American parenting site (recipe HERE) for several reasons.

First, my son loves snakes. Second, there's no cutting up involved. It's all cupcakes so you can just hand them out. Third, cupcakes are dead easy to make and, crucial this point, you can freeze them. So you can make the cupcakes weeks beforehand. Just don't forget to give them time to thaw thoroughly!

The recipe uses a cracker to make the snake's snout, but I would be inclined to use a very thin square of chocolate. I think that fruit leather is the same as a fruit strip. Alternatively, see the last entry for using Fruitellas or Starbursts instead.

Castle Cake

3 Castle Cake

There are lots of ideas for this online, and they all use pretty much the same sorts of things. Especially the ice cream cones for the turrets. Some use the pointy ones, and others the flat bottom ones, and yet others a mix of both. You could use a shop brought Victoria sponge too for the cake.

It works for boys and girls - just change the colours you are using to the child's favourite. Here's a video for one cake HERE. And while I didn't like this cake overall, I did like the idea this cake maker had HERE for making the turrets using sheets of icing.

cake pops4 Cake Pops

Be the trendiest mum at the school fete. Wow your child's friends at their next birthday party. The coolest thing to hand out at the moment are cake pops.

Cakes on a stick! I first saw these advertised in a magazine by a bakery that specialised in children's parties. Just one month ago. I was impressed and thought you had to go to a bakers to get something like that.

But no. I have found this recipe HERE and honestly, it sounds so simple. I'm also going to do a test freeze on these. If they do freeze, I'll be able to stockpile them in advance. And if that happens, then this recipe falls in the category of total genius!

Easy Icing Cakes5 Easy with icing

Baking the cake is, for me, the easy bit. It is the icing that takes the time. I love both of these ideas here! How cool does the stripy one look? And all it uses are normal and mini sized M&Ms. The other cake has been iced by softening candy fruit chews (maybe something like Fruitellas or Starbursts?) and rolling them flat. Simple or what?

To make the wet sort of icing you'll need for the M&Ms idea, put a cup, or two cups, of icing sugar into a bowl. Scoop out a teaspoon of butter and then rub that into the icing sugar. Add a little cold water one table spoon at a time, mixing it up, until it is the thickness you want.

Here's something for the next cake sale at school. Do two sponge cakes in square tins (use something like Sainsbury's Basics sponge mix). Do a filling of mock cream and jam. Then ice it over and cover in softened fruitellas or M&Ms. Genius!

I've edited this post to add a picture of my own 'smarties' cake. I took the M&Ms idea and did it with smarties for my son's school's summer fair. It certainly made an impact and I got lots of comments about how fab it looked.

My cake

TOPICS:   Birthday Party Ideas

12 comments

  • Donnie
    Gasp! I love Nicki's cake idea, although it's not quite a cake. That would be a sensation at a party. I've nearly always made my son's birthday cakes – for two reasons, really: he has a sensitivity to E numbers (Have you seen some of those icing sugar cakes? The Thomas the Tank Engine cake is BLACK in parts!). And also because it's much cheaper. Some of those cakes are £12 or more, and they have a long shelf life which makes you wonder what's in them. I'm going to make my son a shell cake for his birthday in a week. I've decided to make a gift box shape. Clever Nicki! Thank you for this blogpost. I also love the snake - such clever mums!
  • Nicki
    Donnie, the chocolate shell is sitting on top of a cake. I covered the cake in chocolate butter icing to look like the rocks underneath the chest (also meant that it didn't have to look too perfect!)
  • Donnie
    Ah... I can see that now. It's even cleverererer than I thought. Thanks Nicki. I'm going to try one next week.
  • Lynley O.
    Nicki did you use the inside or the outside of the tupperware container as the mold - to coat with chocolate I mean? And thanks for taking the time to come and explain a bit more!
  • nicki
    The inside of the tupperware container. I used a pastry brush to help spread the chocolate up the sides.
  • Donnie
    Nicki, I hope you don't mind my asking: how did you actually get the shell to come out the tupperware? If you squeeze the tupperware, won't the shell crack? And if you dip it in hot water to loosen it, it'll melt. Also, I don't own a double boiler. I looked online for instructions and it wasn't much help either. How can I melt the chocolate? Can I microwave it?
  • nicki
    Sorry for the lack of details. How to get the shell out of the tupperware? Make sure that you remember to brush the tupperware with vegetable oil before you put it in the freezer. To get the shell out you can use a tea towel soaked in hot water. Place this overtop of the container and it will help the chocolate shell to pop out. Mine just popped out so didn't need to use the towel. Double boiler - I don't have one either, I just use the method for melting chocolate that my Mum showed me. This website shows pictures of the pot and glass bowl method, just look at step 1 and 2: http://www.pastrypal.com/2009/09/chocolate-sorbet/ Also, I've tried to do this with white chocolate but had no success - it's a lot more temperamental than the milk chocolate.
  • nicki
    How to get the shell out of the tupperware? Make sure that you remember to brush the tupperware with vegetable oil before you put it in the freezer. To get the shell out you can use a tea towel soaked in hot water. Place this overtop of the container and it will help the chocolate shell to pop out. Mine just popped out so didn't need to use the towel. Double boiler - I don't have one either, I just use the method for melting chocolate that my Mum showed me. This website shows pictures of the pot and glass bowl method, just look at step 1 and 2: http://www.pastrypal.com/2009/09/chocolate-sorbet/ Also, I've tried to do this with white chocolate but had no success - it's a lot more temperamental than the milk chocolate.
  • Lynley O.
    Donnie, what I do to melt chocolate is I have a glass bowl - one of those oven save ones I forget what they're called. I boil some water then put the bowl in the saucepan and fill it up with the hot water to about three quarters or just over half way on the bowl. Then simmer it on the stove top until the chocolate has melted. Also in my experience using chocolate moulds - assuming the same here as I haven't actually made a smashable cake yet - it really does just slide out thanks to the vegetable oil. It doesn't take much effort and if the chocolate is thick enough it shouldn't crack. Say about as thick as a chocolate easter egg? Might do a test run myself first!
  • Sarah M.
    It's my youngest's 5th birthday on Sunday - his entire class (pretty much) is coming to his birthday 'party in the park'. As it's open and in the park, parents need to stay so it's an open house for parents and siblings too *gulp* Everyone must bring their own picnic lunch and we're providing the CAKES. I'm going to give the cake pops a bash - they just look COOL!
  • Emma K.
    Donnie - share pictures if you try it!
  • Lynley O.
    Photo of my artwork on a cake is now in the post! I have started simple with the smartie cake. I'll work my way up to the smashable cake!

What do you think?

Connect with Facebook, Twitter, or just enter your email to sign in and comment.

Your comment