I love traditions. I love the nostalgia that surrounds them and the excitement when people talk about them. One book which seems to be linked to a tradition for a lot of people I know is the Australian Women's Weekly Kids' Birthday Cake book. I get told stories of Mums handing their children this book each birthday to pick a cake for their special day. Some kids were even lucky enough to have almost every cake in the book made at some point for them or their siblings. Hearing the excitement when friends retold their experiences growing up around this tradition, I wanted to create something similar with my son. A few years ago, I was given the latest edition of the Kids' Birthday Cake book. I love the options available and knew it was my time to shine!
The weekend before my son's birthday we sat down and looked through the pages of the book. With every new cake, he declared he wanted that one. We finally settled on a rocket ship cake. I should have known that was not his final choice. A few days before his birthday we drove past a soccer field and he announced he wanted a soccer ball cake... he doesn't play or watch soccer but said he liked it. Then finally the day before his birthday we went through the book again, this time I gave more direction and picked a few he could have. We finally decided on a race track cake, but in the shape of a number 4. Phew - sorted, and just in time to make and quickly decorate the cake before it needed to be adorned with candles and consumed.
Fourth Birthday Cake (Butter Cake)
From the Miette Cookbook
1.5 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
215g butter, at room temperature
1 cup caster sugar
10 large egg yolks, at room temperature
2/3 cup buttermilk (or milk with a squeeze of lemon)
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g butter, at room temperature
200g icing sugar, sifted
40 - 65mL milk
Grease a lamington tin and line with baking paper. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.
In a different bowl, beat the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy. Add the egg yolks in three additions and beat well each time. After the last addition, beat on high for about 30 seconds.
Whisk together the buttermilk and vanilla. With the mixer on low, add the wet and dry ingredients in two additions, switching from dry to wet. Pour the batter into the tin and smooth the top. Pop into the oven and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until a skewer can be inserted and come out clean. Remove from oven and rest in the tin for about 15 minutes then remove and let cool completely.
When cool, cut the cake into thirds, lengthways, then cut into segments (see picture below for guide). Shape the cake segments into the number 4.
Make the icing but beating the butter and icing sugar together until smooth. Sift in the cocoa and beat until well combined. Add the milk slowly, tasting as you go. You want the consistency to still be thick enough to spread, but you don't want a grainy texture when eating.
Once icing is ready, spread some on the sides of the segments to help them stick, then cover the top and sides with the icing. Using the left over cake, make a mound to form a bridge and a ramp to add to the end of the cake. Decorate with bullets or liquorice (I used raspberry liquorice). Then prepare to sing HAPPY BIRTHDAY!