make it pretty

this post is compiled to help you make a kiddies birthday cake without fancy equipment. less funny stories and more technique.

so dressing up cakes is not my forte. however i have been called upon to make birthday cakes for the children of friends. i do this because i’m usually quite fond of the kids in question and i realise that mother’s of 1 year olds can use a helping hand every now and then.

my go-to is banana bread with cream cheese icing. the first time i baked this particular combo was for my nephew.


less is more

as you can see i didn’t do much with the cake. my nephew devoured it regardless.

my second attempt was also a 1st birthday cake which i baked for lilli. she’s my neighbour’s daughter. sweet bundle of smiles. for lilli i decided to try my hand at something pretty. i was inspired to try to put her name on the cake in a playful way.


pictures of lilli

so here’s the how to with some extra pointers.

the mission: make a birthday cake for luca.

i decided to go the whole hog and make a cake in the shape of the number one. i do not have number cake pans. you can hire them if you want to or you can cut them out of a standard cake shape using stencils.

the number one is easy. i chose a square baking pan. i used baking paper to plan the cutting and make sure that the resulting shape looked like a properly proportioned digit.

since the cake needed to feed as many people as possible i was trying to limit off-cuts. however it became clear that the base was too wide so it had to be trimmed. though still not a perfect digit i was happy with the shape.

i prepared the batter, baked the cake and allowed it to cool. i set about making my lettering stencil. here again you don’t need fancy equipment. pencil, ruler and paper will suffice. i happen to have a notebook that has grid markings on the pages so i didn’t actually need a ruler.

using the cake shape stencil i was able to measure out how much space i had for the lettering.

trace the lettering onto baking paper. the paper needs to be large enough to cover the entire cake. you can cut out the letters using scissors but i prefer a sharp knife.

the cake was cool by this time. i had made the icing beforehand and put it in the fridge. it was hot day. icing cakes on hot days is always a challenge.

i iced the cake in layers. when you cut a cake to make shapes you end up with crumbs that makes icing quite annoying. i did thin layers and chilled the icing and cake in ten minute intervals.

when i had enough icing on the cake i placed the letter stencil. i used an icing nozzle to direct the sprinkles in the right direction but you also make a cone with more baking paper. you end up with sprinkles all over the surface of the stencil.  i tipped them off the cake over the sink to make sure they didn’t get onto the cake when i pulled the stencil off.

i chilled the icing again before pulling the stencil off.

go slow when you’re pulling off the stencil. get an extra pair of hands involved. a thin knife is handy to slide under the stencil in areas where it may be sticking. touch up the icing if needed and serve.

i hope this post helps you to see that creativity is not only achievable with fancy gadgets. with some patience and planning you can pull off some pretty cool stuff.

happy decorating 🙂

lessons learnt: baking paper is a very versatile tool. buy a good quality one. note that wax wrap and baking paper are not the same thing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s