#birthdaycakegoals & My Baking Inspiration

I intended to do this as a Mother’s Day tribute… then to post it around my Birthday… but this year has got away from me, and it has only been this weekend while sorting through old photos that this post has been able to become a reality.

A lot of people ask me where I get my motivation to bake from and how I can be bothered to take the time necessary to make my creations look good. Well, the answer is simple: my Mum is my biggest baking inspiration, and I attribute much of my motivation to her exquisite birthday cake creations over the years which are a feast for the eyes as much as for the tastebuds.

While I agree that it’s the taste of the food that counts the most, I think we “eat with our eyes” (to borrow an old MasterChef cliché) and how food is presented really does matter, as it can enhance or detract from the whole experience. I also really enjoy the challenge and creativity involved in making my food look as good as I can and find it as, if not more, fulfilling than eating the end product!

Without further ado, I present to you a small selection of Mum’s finest cakes from my childhood, the very creations that inspired my love of baking (please excuse the 90s-00s photo quality):

Hand made figurines for my Peter Rabbit themed 4th Birthday party.

thumb_img_4064_1024Bananas in Pyjamas cakes for my sister Laura’s 2nd Birthday

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My gorgeous 1st Birthday cake 

thumb_img_4073_1024A beautiful fairytale castle cake for Laura’s 4th Birthday 

thumb_img_4062_1024An Ariel cake for my mermaid-themed 5th Birthday party

thumb_img_4068_1024A sleeping dragon cake for my magical 7th Birthday party 

thumb_img_4038_1024A Johnson cake (from Johnson and Friends) for my 3rd birthday 

thumb_img_4075_1024A ‘Forever Friends’ cake for Laura’s 5th Birthday

thumb_img_4106_1024The cake for my 10th Birthday ten-pin bowling party

thumb_img_4104_1024A Shirley Barber inspired fairy cake for my 6th Birthday party

thumb_img_4096_1024A ‘Spot the Dog’ cake for Laura’s 1st Birthday 

thumb_img_4101_1024My 2nd Birthday cake 

thumb_img_4082_1024Laura’s 7th Birthday ballerina cake 

Mum, you’re a superstar! Thank you for the all the incredible memories from my childhood and for putting so much effort in to make each and every birthday feel so special. You’re the very definition of #Mumgoals – I love you so so much xx

Pigs in Mud Cake

I’ve admired this cake on Pinterest for a while now and so when I was asked to make a cake for my Aunt’s birthday a few weeks back, it seemed the perfect choice. It’s very easy to make (and could be made even easier by using a packet cake) but is memorable and super cute so is excellent if you’re short of time (or patience) like I am. It would also be very popular at a children’s birthday party or as a present for a friend with a sense of humour!

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Ingredients (serves 8-10)
Cake
1 cup water
1 ½ cups caster sugar
125g butter, chopped
20g cocoa powder
½ teaspoon bicarb soda
1 ½ cups self-raising flour
2 eggs

Frosting
90g butter, chopped
⅓ cup water
½ cup caster sugar
1 ½ cups icing sugar
⅓ cup cocoa powder

Chocolate Ganache
400g dark chocolate
200ml cream

Decorations
4 large blocks of Kit-Kats
Pink ribbon
White fondant icing
Flesh/coral food colouring
Green buttercream (if desired)
Sugar flowers (if desired)

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Method
To make the cake: preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Grease and line a 20cm round cake pan.

Combine the water, sugar, butter & sifted cocoa and soda in a small saucepan; stir over heat, without boiling, until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil then reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to medium bowl; cool to room temperature.

Add flour and eggs to bowl; beat with electric mixer until smooth and pale in colour. Pour into pan and bake about 25-30mins (check regularly from 15 mins as ovens vary considerably).

Stand cake in pan 10 mins before turning, top-side up, onto wire rack to cool.

To make frosting: combine butter, water and caster sugar in a small saucepan; stir over low heat, without boiling, until sugar dissolves. Sift icing sugar and cocoa in small bowls then gradually stir in hot butter mixture. Cover, refrigerate until frosting thickens. Beat with a wooden spoon until spreadable.

Break Kit-Kats into pairs (be careful as they can break easily) and get out serving dish/cake board.

Once cake is completely cool, cut carefully in half and level the top. “Glue” bottom of cake to serving dish/cake board with a little bit of frosting. Sandwich cakes with a generous amount of frosting and then coat the sides and top with the remaining frosting.

Working quickly, place the Kit Kats around the edge of the cake until the cake is completely surrounded. This will act as the “fence” of the pig pen. Tie the ribbon around it to fasten.

To make the ganache, gently heat chocolate and cream in a saucepan and stir until melted and combined. Put in fridge to cool.

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Meanwhile, colour modelling fondant (I use Orchard) with coral/flesh colour until desired pig colour reached. First I made the three little bottoms by making little balls, making the butt crack using a skewer and making a little hole to place a tail. To make the tails, make a thin worm shape, twist it so it looks like a corkscrew and attach using a tiny bit of water.  Then make two bellies with holes for belly buttons and two faces which are made by one ball with a smaller ball on top for a snout, holes for eyes and nostrils, and little triangles for ears. Faces which are one ball with a smaller ball for a snout and little triangles for ears. Finally, make four little trotters for the floating pig and arms ending in trotters for the sitting pig (it’s really a trial and error process, keep trying until you’re happy with the shapes and proportions).

Remove the ribbon from the Kit Kats once they are firmly attached to the sides of the cake (so it doesn’t get dirty in this process), and carefully pour ganache onto the top of the cake to make the mud. While still soft, position pigs as desired and make ‘ripples’ using the back of a teaspoon.

Refrigerate until ganache is firm. Then return ribbon to place, add buttercream “grass” and sugar flowers if desired, and serve. Enjoy!

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Cake recipe from Women’s Weekly Classic Cakes (as Family Chocolate Cake), inspiration from various pinterest posts.