Three times a year I get the opportunity to indulge my creative side in baking and decorating birthday cakes for my sons. One of those times is at the end of January and, this time around, the request was for a Lego Ninja. After all the birthdays we have celebrated, the boys' expectations run high, and I wait with some trepidation to see what the request will be, then enjoy rising to the challenge of creating what has been asked for. At the request of a friend, I have posted a slideshow of our cakes on this blog.
In the case of this monster cake, my son drew what he envisaged and then asked me to make a cake just like his drawing:
Mr Men and Little Miss cakes are always fun, and reasonably simple to create. I used to make them for friends at University depending on their personality:
Number are also very simple - and an effective centre to a birthday celebration at any age:
For first birthdays, you can make a cake connected to a baby's first words. For my eldest, one such word was 'Cat', for my middle son, 'ROAR' for a lion:
Favourite characters from books, films and TV also make great cakes:
Other ideas can be seen in the slideshow "Our Birthday Cakes" in the side-bar to the right.
The basic recipe I use is very simple:
2 oz margarine
3 oz sugar
4 oz self-raising flour
This basic recipe can be doubled / tripled / quadrupled depending on how many cake trays you need to fill. It can be flavoured with vanilla essence or cocoa powder, and the mix can be loosened with a drop of milk if necessary. 20 mins at about 180 degrees, or until a tester comes out clean, and you will find a cake which, once cool is easy to cut, mould and work with.
For added WOW factor, I separate the basic mix into several bowls and colour each bowl with different food colours. I then spoon mixture from each bowl into the cake tin creating a marbled effect which children love!
I use a simple butter or water icing (marg or water mixed with icing sugar to a smooth consistency), to which you can add flavour and colour. Writing icing (available in supermarkets) is invaluable for detail, and then you can let your imagination run wild, using various sweets and biscuits to complete your creation.
Cupcakes, using the same recipe, can be made to supplement the main cake. This time around, the boys helped me bake, and they enjoyed taking responsibility for the ninja cupcakes, moulding small ninjas for the tops from malleable icing (which is rather like edible plasticine!)
Here is today's Lego Ninja, which was well received by the assembly of small ninjas gathered to celebrate my youngest son's 6th birthday ....