Cake wars

There are a number of things in life that I’m spectacularly bad at.

If you need help with anything to do with numbers or reading maps, for example, I’m definitely not your girl.

That’s okay though. I’ve accepted that I’m challenged in those areas and have moved on with life.

I will not, however, accept that I am spectacularly bad at baking my girls beautiful cakes for their birthdays.

Call it denial, call it what you will, but I refuse to let the cake win. I will not give in.

My Dad is an ex-baker and my Mum was a superstar at recreating the Women’s Weekly cakes for my birthdays when I was a kid. I live in hope that some of that talent will eventually rub off on me πŸ™‚

I’m the first to admit that I have a bad track record with baking special occasion cakes. There was Curly-locks’ first birthday cake which critics claimed resembled a giant penis, baby Smiley’s Christening cake which turned out like a scary lopsided mess, and Curly-locks’ Snow White cake which made the beautiful Disney princess look like she had a bad case of cellulite.

There is no denying that last weekend while making baby Smiley’s first birthday cake, I was on the verge of surrender. I cursed my mum’s vintage Women’s Weekly birthday cake book and swore that if I owned an apron I would have thrown it in. I was disappointed and frustrated with myself. Just like my Grandmother said to me when she tried to teach me to knit, ‘Why can you not get this?’

I had chosen what I thought was a relatively easy cake to bake – a bunny rabbit cake. It involved baking three round cakes, one for the tummy, one for the head, and the last to make the ears and paws. Who could stuff that up?

It turns out I could stuff that up. It was one disaster after another, with chocolate cake crumbs through my white icing and an incident which involved using red food colouring rather than pink to colour the bunny’s ears.

Rather than looking like a sweet bunny, it looked like a zombie rabbit from a horror flick.

I was on the verge of throwing the cake out when Miss Three asked to have a look. In a soft voice filled with awe she said, ‘It’s great, Mum. So amazing.’ She then gave me a high five.

She didn’t notice that the bunny looked like it was bleeding from the ears, she didn’t notice that I used blue smarties instead of brown for the eyes, she didn’t notice that the liquorice was too thick, she didn’t notice that the coconut I’d covered the cake in was about two inches deep to hide the flaws beneath. She thought it was awesome and that’s all that matters.

So that is why, my friends, I will not throw in my apron.

I picture my girls at my age preparing to make their own kids’ birthday cakes. They will flick through their old photo albums and laugh about the crazy creations I dished up year after year.

It will be the memories of the cakes made with love that will be carried through to the next generation, not whether or not they were an exact replica of a cake in a magazine.

Grrr Arrgh!

Grrr Arrgh!

Do you make cakes for your kids’ birthdays? Are you as hopeless as I am? What are you spectacularly bad at?

 

42 comments on Cake wars

  1. Bec | Mumma Tells
    October 24, 2013 at 6:51 am (4 years ago)

    Oh, what an absolute gem Curly-locks is! We’re a Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake home too. Fiddly bits and mess making and icing disasters galore, and I really wouldn’t have it any other way. You are a great Mumma, Renee. These are such joyful and lasting memories you are creating for two very lucky little girls. X

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      October 24, 2013 at 1:33 pm (4 years ago)

      Thanks so much! I wouldn’t have it any other way either πŸ™‚ x

      Reply
  2. Rose
    October 24, 2013 at 6:56 am (4 years ago)

    Too funny Renee … yes, I made a stegosaurus cake which looked like a run-over frog. Matthew adored it. That was all that mattered. Keep up the great blogs!

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      October 24, 2013 at 1:34 pm (4 years ago)

      Lol, Rose. I just HAVE to see a pic of the stegosaurus cake. It sounds awesome. I’m glad he loved it πŸ™‚

      Reply
  3. Rach
    October 24, 2013 at 7:24 am (4 years ago)

    Sunshine stop being so hard on yourself the cake looks amazing πŸ™‚ My knitting skills are also not very good and my drawing skills are horrendous xxx

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      October 24, 2013 at 1:34 pm (4 years ago)

      Ugh knitting is soooo tricky. I just don’t have the patience. Thanks for your kind words xx

      Reply
  4. Josefa @always Josefa
    October 24, 2013 at 9:27 am (4 years ago)

    Now I think this cake looks perfect! I’m quite sure somewhere along the way my parents made this cake for my birthday once! Now I seriously can’t make cakes, don’t even bother or try to – and I’m ok with that πŸ˜‰

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      October 24, 2013 at 1:35 pm (4 years ago)

      Thanks Josefa πŸ™‚ Who would have thought it could be so difficult to make these cakes. I’m glad you know your limits and are happy to outsource πŸ˜‰ x

      Reply
  5. Carly Oliver
    October 24, 2013 at 7:53 pm (4 years ago)

    I didn’t even attempt a shape Renee! The best I could come up with was marble cake with blue, green, pink and yellow food coloring. I then used lashings of purple icing to cover it all up!! Haha it tasted ok & Neve seemed to enjoy it. The professionals make it look so easy! Your bunny looks awesome!

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      October 24, 2013 at 8:21 pm (4 years ago)

      Thanks Carly! That sounds like the most gorgeously colourful birthday cake for a one year old. I might try that next time. Those rainbow cakes look good too, but maybe a little trick for me πŸ˜‰

      Reply
  6. Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit
    October 25, 2013 at 6:19 am (4 years ago)

    I have made cakes for my kids. Mine never look like the pictures … and I have much more clever friends who do amazing things with their cakes making mine look inferior … but my kids still love them! I am getting a bit lazier now. Darby’s last birthday were green (camo) cupcakes with plastic soldiers sitting atop each one. The kids thought they were fantastic! They looked pretty plain on their own, but looked kinda cool with a camo tablecloth and camo balloons. As long as the kids like them … I guess that’s all that matters …

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      October 25, 2013 at 1:43 pm (4 years ago)

      That’s right, Leanne. The camo cupcakes sound like a brilliant idea. It’s amazing what a few props can do too!

      Reply
  7. Lydia C. Lee
    October 25, 2013 at 6:28 am (4 years ago)

    What on earth are you talking about? That’s a great cake!! Frankly, I believe in leaving such things up to the professionals. I wouldn’t perform surgery, or drive a car I’d serviced, so I think kitchen creations are not to be messed with, if at all possible.
    I have a friend who is an AMAZING cook – even the jelly at her kids party was layered rainbow of (I’m not kidding) 14 layers. (At Halloween I make a jelly brain – one colour in a brain mould, and it still collapses in a flat mess – but the up side of Halloween is crap cooking can be ‘spooky’.) I went round her party telling all the parents that my daughters party the next weekend would be totally crap compared to this one, and just to lower their expectations. They all laughed but I was serious. I’m totally fine with my kitchen limitations, and think the only food photos on the web should be those humerous ones with ‘totally nailed it’ attached. We could have a bake off – it would be great for your self esteem.

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      October 25, 2013 at 1:45 pm (4 years ago)

      Ahhh hahaha, Lydia. You really are hilarious. I always like to text people before a party too, to pre-warn them of the disaster. As for your friend making jelly with 14 different layers. That is nuts. Are you sure she’s human?

      Reply
  8. Katie (@mumabytes)
    October 25, 2013 at 6:44 am (4 years ago)

    You summed it up, Renee – it’s the memory that matters. Kids don’t remember the detail like us adults do – they remember how they felt about it all. That what I think anyway. As long as you try, you’re doing well. Love the women’s weekly cake books…it was one of the first things I bought when i got pregnant. Haven’t had a chance to give anything a crack yet coz we’ve been in Brazil and trying to bake a cake in a gas oven, over was is basically a naked flame, and then ice it in 40 degree heat is a total disaster. But we’re home now, and I’m already thinking about my babe’s 4th birthday in Jan!!

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      October 25, 2013 at 1:46 pm (4 years ago)

      Wow. Would love to hear more about your time in Brazil. I can see how the conditions would not make it easy for baking. A bowl of ice cream instead?!

      Reply
  9. Aroha @ Colours of Sunset
    October 25, 2013 at 6:46 am (4 years ago)

    I think you are too hard on yourself! It looks great!! You have to remember kids standards are far lower than ours to begin with anyway! I’ve actually just made a pinterest board to post pics of the cakes I’ve made Nick. I took a hiatus for his 2nd and 3rd birthdays! Sorry kid. I think I made up for it on the other 3 birthdays though! http://www.pinterest.com/awezner/nicks-birthday-cakes/

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      October 25, 2013 at 1:47 pm (4 years ago)

      Oh. My. God! Amazing!!!!! Love the batman one. Did you really make that???!!!!

      Reply
  10. Bec @ The Plumbette
    October 25, 2013 at 6:57 am (4 years ago)

    I am spectacularly crap at making birthday cakes and I think the pressure is added with pinterest and facebook showing all these freaking amazing cakes. I love the simple ones that look really effective decorated in smarties or candy to create a picture. I love that cake you did. I once tried to make a lego cake which looked easy but was so hard to ice. It didn’t look very good in the end but it tasted alright.

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      October 25, 2013 at 1:49 pm (4 years ago)

      Mmmm yes, I can imagine how hard it would be to ice. Meanwhile, bought some flushable wipes yesterday. Thanks for the tip πŸ˜‰

      Reply
  11. Kate
    October 25, 2013 at 8:02 am (4 years ago)

    We are our own worst critics aren’t we! I remember spending hours looking at the AWW birthday cake cook book when I was a kid. I never got the pool party cake that I wanted though πŸ™‚ Well done on your effort I say. I’ve only had 1 opportunity so far and I did the very hungry caterpillar in cupcakes, it worked out pretty well. Not sure if I’m scarred or inspired to one-up it next year!

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      October 25, 2013 at 1:52 pm (4 years ago)

      Ooh what a great idea. That would be a lovely cake. I should have made that! The pool cake is awesome. My mum made that one for me too and I actually made it for my hubby back in the day πŸ™‚

      Reply
  12. Aleney @ BoyEatsWorld
    October 25, 2013 at 9:54 am (4 years ago)

    My kids always prefer a mummy-made cake than a bought one. Doesn’t matter how it turns out, they know it’s made from the heart πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      October 25, 2013 at 1:57 pm (4 years ago)

      That’s what it’s all about, Aleney πŸ™‚

      Reply
  13. Lauren
    October 25, 2013 at 3:11 pm (4 years ago)

    You are being too hard on yourself – it looks great! The memories your kids will have are more important anyway – as a kid I loved picking out my birthday cake for Mum to make and no matter what it looked like, I always loved it – especially the icing!! I’ve just started looking through my copy of the women’s weekly cake book trying to decide what I’ll make for my son’s second birthday in a couple of months time.

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      October 25, 2013 at 7:49 pm (4 years ago)

      It’s a tough decision! I can’t wait to see what you make πŸ™‚

      Reply
  14. Grace
    October 25, 2013 at 4:12 pm (4 years ago)

    Oh you’re way ahead than me (and what I’ll ever be) in the baking stakes! I don’t think I’ll ever bake a cake for my twins’ birthday. It will always be outsourced πŸ™‚
    Love the bunny! And of course she loved it! It was made with love!! πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      October 25, 2013 at 7:49 pm (4 years ago)

      Thanks Grace. Yes outsourcing is very tempting, although I think I’ll stick with making my own for at least a little while longer!

      Reply
  15. Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me
    October 25, 2013 at 4:44 pm (4 years ago)

    I have to say Ren that I can pull a good kid’s birthday cake out of nowhere, but it’s sheer determination and stubbornness and my attitude that I can do anything – I actually did a wordless wed blog about my cakes and shocked a few peeps with it!!! We all have our strengths x

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      October 25, 2013 at 7:50 pm (4 years ago)

      Oh I know, Em! I saw that post and was actually thinking of you when I was making the bunny. You have made some crackers in your time x

      Reply
  16. Kathy
    October 25, 2013 at 5:57 pm (4 years ago)

    I reckon it looks pretty great Renee – I’ve never been great at cakes and several times have taken the easy option of simply decorating (as creatively as I can) store-bought square cakes. Little Yang’s 3rd birthday this year fell on Chinese New Year (of the Snake) which gave me a good excuse to make a snake shaped cake (not too hard) and decorate it with….snakes. These days we do cup-cakes for Miss Yin – she had a cooking party last year and the girls did their own decorations….sweet.

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      October 25, 2013 at 7:51 pm (4 years ago)

      Oh that does sound so sweet. What a lovely party idea. I love the snake idea too. I guess you just have to be a little creative πŸ™‚

      Reply
  17. Emma Fahy Davis
    October 25, 2013 at 6:32 pm (4 years ago)

    Awww my mum made this exact same cake for my first birthday, and I made it for my oldest daughter’s first birthday too, although yours looks much more like the picture than mine did!

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      October 25, 2013 at 7:51 pm (4 years ago)

      I don’t know about that, Emma, but thanks πŸ™‚

      Reply
  18. Shelley @ Money Mummy
    October 26, 2013 at 6:13 pm (4 years ago)

    I think your cake looked awesome!!! To me that was what birthdays are all about. You should be very proud of yourself. I completely suck at cooking. I just bake a standard packet chocolate cake in a round tin and cover it in icing and smarties πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      October 27, 2013 at 2:07 pm (4 years ago)

      Sounds like a winner, Shelley! Maybe I should try that for the next one. Kids love smarties!

      Reply
  19. Wendy
    October 28, 2013 at 3:16 pm (4 years ago)

    Renee, your cake looks lovely and not remotely zombie like! One trick I have learned to help prevent crumbs in your icing is to do a “crumb” layer – this is a thin layer of icing all over the cake to stick the crumbs to the cake, and then you ice it with another layer once the crumb layer has dried – means twice as much icing which is not a terrible thing πŸ™‚ Oh and thick licorice is way tastier than the thin stuff anyway πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      October 28, 2013 at 8:38 pm (4 years ago)

      Wendy, thank you. You’re a sweetie. Two layers of icing sounds delicious and I can definitely see how it would work. I will have to try that next time πŸ™‚ Thanks!

      Reply
  20. Sonia Life Love Hiccups
    October 30, 2013 at 10:27 am (4 years ago)

    Oh you gorgeous mum you. You did good hun. I have a rule I will suffer through the making of extravagant cakes until they are 5. Turn 6 and you get a normal cake lol. I am home free baby! πŸ˜‰ xx

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      October 30, 2013 at 9:01 pm (4 years ago)

      Woohoo! What a fab idea. I’m definitely going to consider that! xx

      Reply
  21. Rachael
    November 3, 2013 at 1:22 am (4 years ago)

    He looks great! I did a fire truck for my son this year which was no easy task. In my research I found out about this thing called a crumb coating. They leave this step out of the womens weekly book and it’s a crime! A crumb coating stops that look of crumbs through the icing. It worked really well for my son’s cake. Alternatively you can do what my mum did which is bake the cakes the day before she wanted to decorate. Freeze. Then carve shapes and ice while frozen. It defrosts fine and stays nice and fresh. Good luck!!

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      November 3, 2013 at 6:10 am (4 years ago)

      OMG Rachael! What awesome tips. Thank you so much. That is a crime that the Women’s Weekly left that out. You would think it’s an essential tip. A fire truck sounds really impressive. Would love to see that!

      Reply

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