Like the cake in the picture below. I made that! It is, admittedly, a cake designed and made by an 8 year old, and it looks radioactive. But it is definitely a lot of fun and it looked great. I'm still quite chuffed with the end result, and that's another reason for making your own cake.
Here's a surprising secret. Baking is actually dead easy. You follow the instructions. That's it. Here's a top tip: 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. Once you've made the mix, pop it in the oven, and in about 15 minutes (for a dozen cupcakes or cookies) or half an hour you have the house smelling luscious and everyone talking about how fabulous you are.
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, recipes that are, crucially also a lot of fun.
This sprinkle cake is one of the best ideas I've seen. Anything looks fabulous with sprinkles, and all you need to do is cut the shape out you want using card or similar. The Number 2 cake shown above is an idea I got from a blog called WhatWouldGynethDo, while the sweet looking pink layer cake came from a site enticingly named Indulgy.
As well as being simple, these cakes work well if you're artistically challenged, or tight for time. Most of us have at least got a round cake tin in the cuboard.
If you're really tight for time and don't even have a round cake tin then try the next idea!
I tried the On the Dot cake idea. I made the cake using a ceramic square roasting tray - line with grease proof paper so you can get it out easily. Your corner shop is likely to stock this if you haven't any at home.
The original used royal icing and M&Ms. I made my own icing (2 cups of icing sugar, 1/2 teaspoon softened butter or margerine, a splash of vanilla, and two tablespoons of cold water. Mix until the right consistency). And used normal sized Smarites, plus mini Smarties - you can get packs of the mini ones from the supermarket.
Above is the original idea on the left, and my interpretation on the right!
I found lots of Superman cake ideas on the internet all using variations on making the emblam up using maltesers and M&Ms. You could apply this technique to lots of different superhero emblems. A really fiddly idea but simple enough - I can't imagine why I hadn't thought of it before!
Meanwhile, over on Babble.com I discovered seriously cute cakes in a jar! I have no idea if these would work at all, but would make a superb idea for older children. And grown ups. Or girls at least. Not sure I'd want to hand my son and his friends glass jars, but I may be underestimating their ability not to start fighting with them when they've finished easting!