When I was a child I would spend the weeks, or should that be months - Mum? -going through my Mum's copy of the Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake book . There were so many wonderful cakes in this bookthat still capture my imagination and many of them appeared at my or my brothers birthdays, the Castle (without the moat, we never really did jelly at our place), the barbie cake, the dresser, cowboy and indian cake, the race car.... the list goes on. I still love those cakes and one day I'm sure I'll be up until 2am in the morning baking them for my own children but for now I'm perfectly happy with a simple vanilla cake with white chocolate (it seized) milk chocolate frosting.
I think that adult or not, you're never ever too old for 100's and 1000's. For me they bring back memories of fairy bread and parties, so last weekend I set about making my own birthday cake. It was inspired by a 'riot of colour' which is what I think children's birthday parties are; full of streamers, party hats, pin the tail on the donkey, the egg race - oh my gosh, do you remember the egg race? Ha, I think I was pretty bad at it! - the lolly bags, the invitations. It's all a big bunch of clashing colours, sugar comas, hissy fits (come on, at some stage someone has one, gosh, even at adult parties this happens!) and cake. Now, my Mum will have to set me straight but I'm pretty sure it was my brother and cousins 1st birthday (they're 4months apart, so why not join the craziness together, ya?) that they were seated next to their cake, a boy of some sort, and before the candles were blown out both had smashed their little fists into the brightly coloured icing and mushed this delicious concoction into the mouths (read: all over their faces). I'm pretty sure I wasn't involved in this, after all I was a grown up - I was 3.
Now, lets just get this straight, there are no children in my home, there was none visiting last weekend, infact my man wasn't even home when I photographed this cake.
Nope, it was just me a bunch of party hats, those sparkly blower thing-os and a bottle of 100's and 1000's.
Lets just say that I should have called a few girlfriends and got them to bring over some drinks then it would have been a party. Albeit one with 100's and 1000's smashed into the carpet, a kitchen looking like a few children had just taken it over and me trying to figure out how I can switch this into a real party on Thursday, my actual birthday. I think I'm going to take the party hats to work, or maybe out for dinner with my man for birthday dinner. After all your birthday only comes once a year and seen as I never feel any older than the year before I like to be a big kid on my birthday.
So, here's to being a day older (on Thursday) than yesterday and to the fun of children's birthdays. It's something I believe everyone over the age of 10 should go back and try out for their next birthday party, seriously my Nan turned 80 last year and I have NEVER laughed so hard playing birthday games before! Yes, those blower thing-o'sand party hats were totally involved, youngest guest - 15years old.
This cake is a one bowl vanilla cake adapted from the AWW Cakes book. I think ittastes better the day after it's been frosted as the moisture sort of seeps into the cake. The ice cream sandwich cookies also form the base of the strawberries and cream tarts.
Everything here tastes better when enjoyed in a messy birthday environment, party hats required, children optional. Required: vacuum cleaner to suck up all those darn 100's & 1000's!
Gluten Free One Bowl Butter Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting
I baked mine in a small 16cm round tin, but you could make a bigger cake by doubling the recipe and baking 2 18cm cakes.
125g butter, softened
1tsp vanilla essence
180g raw castor sugar
170g plain gluten free flour
1/2tsp gluten free baking powder
Grease and line a 16cm round baking tin and preheat oven to 160degrees celcius.
In a hand or stand mixer beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until just combined. Don't worry if it looks curdled it will come back together. Sift together the gluten free flour and baking powder into this mix. Add the milk and mix on low to combine. Scrape down the sides and mix on medium high to combine to a smooth batter. Note, test the batter, add another 1/2tsp vanilla if you like that extra vanilla hit, plus, the raw batter tastes awesome.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking tin, smooth the top and bake for approximately 65minutes for a 16cm cake or 50minutes for an 18cm cake. It's done when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
Milk Chocolate Frosting
Makes enough to frost the 16cm cake
225g butter, softened
1/2tsp vanilla essence
100g milk chocolate, melted and cooled
325g gluten free icing sugar, sifted
In a stand or hand mixer beat the butter and vanilla until light and creamy. Pour in the cooled chocolate and beat to combine. Add half of the icing sugar and beat on low to combine. Repeat with remaining icing sugar. Once the icing sugar is completely incorporated increase the speed to high and beat until light and creamy.
Cut your cooled cake in half, place the bottom half on a serving plate and spoon a few scoops of frosting onto the halved cake. Spread the frosting out to the edges and sandwich with the top half of the cake. Cover the cake with the remainder of the frosting and smooth out or decorate as desired.
Will keep well for 2-3 days. Cake can be made a day ahead and frosted on the day.
Raspberry Swirl Ice Cream Sandwiches:
Makes about15 sandwiches
1 batch of these hazelnut linzer biscuits
1L vanilla ice cream
1/2cup raspberries, if frozen, allow to defrost on some paper towel
Allo the ice cream to soften slightly in a mixing bowl. Smoosh the raspberries together with the back of a fork and swirl through the ice cream. Spread into a 20 x 28cm baking tin lined with baking paper it should be about 2cm thick.Return to the freezer to set. When set cut with the same cookie cutter you used for the biscuits, press carefully between two cookies. Serve immediately or return to the freezer for a few hours before serving.
Strawberry & Cream Tarts
Makes 6-8 tarts
1 batch of the dough for these hazelnut linzer biscuits
Fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 tin x 2 Fruits or fruit salad, drained
1/2cup strawberry or apricot jam, warmed slightly
300ml cream, whipped
Press the rolled dough into 10cm loose bottoms fluted tart cases, the dough may split, simply press an offcut in to patch it up. Poke a small hole in the middle of the case with a skewar to allow any hot air to escape while baking. Bake in a 170degree oven for approximately 15minutes until they start to brown. Allow to cool completely in the tart cases. You can make the cases a day or two before topping with fruit and serving, simply store in an airtight container.
Carefully remove from tart cases and brush the base with the warmed jam. Spoon a 1/4cup of the 2 fruits into the middle of the tart base and arrange quartered strawberries around. Pipe the cream in a 'softserve' style on top of the 2fruits in the centre. Serve immediately.