Hoppo Bumpo (n): A children's game. Played by folding one's arms and hopping on one leg. Aim is to bump opponents, so that they lose their balance. Last person standing wins.

September 17, 2008

Let them eat, er ....

I've just consulted the calendar and in a little over 4 weeks its Bargy's birthday. Now I'm in a spin.

Can you guess what it is that's putting me in a state of high anxiety? The fact that a baby can reach 2 in the blink of an eye? The thought that we don't yet have a birthday present? Or the idea of a organising a children's party?

No, its the cake. And there's a lot at stake. The cake is everything: a childhood memory, a marvellous centrepiece; an obligatory part of the party food; and the very yardstick by which parenthood is measured.

I clearly remember all my childhood birthday cakes and those of my siblings; especially the year my younger sister got to have a Batman cake. So three years ago when I set out to make Argy's 1st birthday cake, I wanted it to be memorable and spectacular. I was two months pregnant at the time and feeling quite exhausted, but pressed on with weeks of research, elaborate plans and trips to cake decorating stores. This cake was closely project-managed from start to finish.

If you haven't seen one of these (from The Australian Women's Weekly Kids' Birthday Cakes cookbook) up close before, its decorated in kilos of fondant icing and has one cake balanced precariously on the other using skewers.

In my opinion, you only make one of these if you are a professional cake decorator ... or have completely taken leave of your senses. The cake took hours and hours to decorate; finished at 2am the night before the party.

And after the candles were lit and Happy Birthday sung, no one was allowed to touch that cake. Ever. A crazed, pregnant woman stood guard, making sure of that. For a week after, I stared fondly at my handiwork. The cake grew stale. It slowly sunk on the skewers and listed ungracefully to one side. Then - I am ashamed to say - I threw it in the bin.

With the passing of time and an addition to the family, I'd like to think I have grown a little more sensible. All creations must now have less than two kilos of icing. Multi-storey concepts are out of the question. And the children are allowed to eat the cake.

Now let's see what happens in October ...


  1. I am in awe that you actually MADE one of those! The kids wanted one for the last birthday, and I drew the line - they got a much easier one! I kow-toe to your baking brilliance!!!!!

  2. I did little mini cupcakes for Poppys first. They were fabulous as little kids ate them in 2 bits, less mess and I managed 3 different flavours.

  3. Oh. My. Goodness. That cake is AMAZING.

    You are stellar!

    You must visit www.cakewrecks.blogspot.com - please treat yourself.

  4. That is such an amazing cake. It is amazing how possessed a pregnant women can become!

  5. WOW! I don't think I would even attempt that cake! It looked amazing!

  6. Ollie's birthday is in a little under 6 weeks, so I eagerly await more posts on birthday preparations/celebrations! I'm already inspired by shimandsons fairly recent blog entry about her sons b'day party - very stylish!

  7. a friend of mine made a fantastic birthday cake for her boys 1st birthday.

    a simple mud cake with chocolate ganache icing.

    the chocolate arranged and teased into swirling waves of sugary temptation.

    on top of that floated a big, paper pirate ship, simple black and white colours; but it looked absolutely fantastic. huge sails, pirate flag at a jaunty angle.

    i thought it was a great idea - off comes the pirate ship and then the demolishing of the cake can take place, but you have a wonderful memento at the end.

  8. I should confess that I have never baked any of my children's birthday cakes. If I ever made one like that one you made, then I too would be quite reluctant to cut into it I am sure.

  9. :))
    You always make me smile!!!

  10. Oh, geez, for dd's first birthday, we all ignored it, cause we had colds, and she was too little to care, anyway. :p Ds got his very own cupcake. Heh.

    You can always do what my friend just did for her dd's second...asked what she wanted, she got...a tater-tot tower, with a mini flag on the top. I don't know who was more thrilled..the mom, or the kid! lol

  11. I'm about to attempt a teepee cake. We'll see how it goes. My brother had that famous train for his 1st b'day - coloured popcorn in the carriages. Yes, everyone has a childhood cake memory!

  12. Well... if you ever have a strange desire to make an octopus cake, I have just the tin... ;-) I love character cakes, they were one of the best parts of growing up (and still are, for me!!). I always liked the train cake filled with coloured popcorn in the women's weekly cook book... I think EVERY kid wanted that cake. I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

  13. wow ! Really that cake is amazing.and you are slightly scary - in a good way!

  14. Oh you crack me up!

    WOW that cake is amazing.

    I am lucky - my inlaws arE cake decorators and they make the most amazing cakes...

    BUt once in the while I have made some - just because that is what a mum does!

  15. OMG that cake is a masterpiece, no wonder you woudnt let anyone touch it. Noone ate Ellie's first birthday cake I made either but not because it was a masterpiece but because noone was game to eat cake that looked like it was covered in wasabi. Can you give me decorating lessons?

  16. what a gorgeous cake...arent you a supermum? its beautiful!! maybe this time stick with simple cupcakes heehee...have fun planning!!

  17. That is a truly amazing cake. I can't believe anyone who isn't a professional cake maker can make something like that. I wouldn't have let anyone eat it either.

    Can't wait to see what you come up with for the next cake.

  18. I just did a post about birthday cakes too!
    I can relate to the pressure.
    I'm very impressed that you did the carousel cake though - I saw it in the new AWW book and immediately put it in the "too hard" basket.

  19. That's hilarious! Not letting anyone eat it.... It is rather too amazingly gorgeous, though. My only fancy cake as a kid was a ladybird cake my Mom burned. (She hated all that crafty stuff!) I remember it and laugh now, because I sympathise with her. We got standard chocolate forever after, and it was always greeted with delight.

  20. hehe you are too funny! I'll be keen to see this year's cake - that one looks like a masterpiece.


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