Cake Expectations

Alfie’s birthday is still a few weeks away but he’s already pouring over the Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake Cookbooks, page by page, then page by page again, selecting then re-selecting his cake of choice.

I haven’t accurately tallied it up but I believe I’ve made in excess of 50 of these projects in my career as a mum who makes cakes.  And I have the cake tins to prove it.  And the over-stacked kitchen cupboards filled with cake tins to doubly prove it.

Alfie hasn’t decided which cake he would like for his 7th birthday but I have come to understand that a lot of the joy doesn’t come from the decision, it comes from wondering and contemplating about the possibilities.  And so the process takes a while.

While the children are making up their minds, I’m on the razor’s edge hoping and praying they’ll pick something easy.  Some prayers take a long time to be answered.  I’m still waiting for that easy cake to be chosen.  Here is a small selection of the cakes I’ve made over the years.  I apologise for the ‘happy snap’ nature of the images – no professional photographer was employed to attend my children’s birthday parties.  Average though they are,  for me they’re a wonderful trip down memory lane.

A Block of Cadbury Double Deck Chocolate


Skull and Bones in a blue sea of jelly

Banana Split

A pot of gold at the end of the rainbow

A Villainous Vampire

Joe Bad

Jungle Fever

Wacky Wabbit

Banana Split – Yes, again.  I have made this at least half a dozen times. 

Magic Toadstool

All of these cakes are from The Australian Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake Cookbooks.

Are you fearful of making a cake for a child’s birthday party?

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  1. Jo Barrett says:

    I love your blog x just had to comment on this one as I remember the swimming pool cake you sent in… And I remember trying to cut it into 30 pieces!!! Just as well I really liked you and your gorgeous kids 😉

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Jo! When I thought of doing this post I immediately thought of you and that swimming pool cake. I would have uploaded a photo but couldn’t find one. But in my search I did find photos of your wedding! These days I’m much more kind to teachers and I take in boxes of ice blocks! Thanks for your kind words. xx

  2. They all look complex, needing lots of effort. I guess a simple round cake is unthinkable for this event.

  3. Charlie, they’re absolutely wonderful!!! Thanks for sharing the photos with us – so much love in each and every cake! 🙂

  4. You are an amazing mother. Not too many kids can say they have had all these birthday cakes, and some!

  5. OMG you are so talented and such a great mother 🙂 My mother isn’t a baker and has never made me any cakes lol the closest thing to a cake would be a jelly set in a cake mould lol
    I’m so jealous of your kids to have a mum who’s willing to go into all that trouble to make so many birthday cakes for them!

    Would it be possible for you to share the banana split cake recipe? I’d love to make it for my nephew or niece 🙂 Thanks in advance!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Sure. I’ll put the recipe up as the cake seems to be a favourite with a lot of readers. It’s actually one of the less challenging ones too! Thank you Daisy for all your lovely comments.

  6. Thanks for your sweet comment! I love your blog! So much to come back to here!

  7. Oh, my goodness, this reminds me of the “cake book” my mom had when I was growing up in the 60s. Every birthday we kids chose the animal cake we wanted. I wonder if our mom, too, was praying we’d choose an easy design. I carried on the same tradition for my children when they were young, baking animal-shaped cakes, without the guidance of a booklet.

    You are establishing and wonderful tradition for your children that they will always remember.

  8. Your children are beautiful; I looked them more than the cakes. I would have to pick the jungle fever cake as a favorite. You are braver than I; I let my girls pick from the offerings at the local bakery when I need a cake. And then I just try not to drop it on the way out.

  9. My kids like to help create a birthday cake for my husband each year. I have made a volcano cake (with real flames), a ski slope, a horse farm, beach ‘n surf , and a jungle cake to name a few. Each year….for some strange reason that we now call ‘tradition’, the kid’s ‘Steve Irwin’ toy/figurine makes a special guest appearance somewhere on the cake. On the day of Dad’s birthday, we all go on a hunt around the house in a mad frenzy trying to find Steve, so we can stick him on the cake. No matter what, we always seem to be able to find him somewhere in the depths of the toy baskets! One year he was escaping the volcano, then he was swimming with dolphins, skiing the slopes with barbie, riding a horse, and fighting the lion. We were a little busy one year though, so Steve just sat in the middle of an apple pie. It’s always a highlight for my husband…..what will Steve be doing this year?? I’ve become a bit smarter though, and Steve now lives permanently in my spice cupboard!

  10. The banana split cakes are my favorite. My husband got a look at the pictures and wants one for his birthday this summer. Um. I don’t do cakes:) I hope he will be happy with an actual banana split. Love your site. My sis Lisa turned me onto it.

  11. Great looking cakes, I know with the Glam Teens the choosing is half the fun and they are all more than double Alfie’s age. You’ve still got a lot of cakes to go!! I love the banana split. GG

  12. Wow! I am so impressed with cooks who can decorate and create like this. Wow, is all I can say. I can’t wait to see what Alfie picks out this year.

  13. Charlie, you are so creative! Your children must be proud their mum bakes such extraordinary cakes!

  14. What great looking cakes!

  15. Wow! I always wish I had kids to make a lot of bday cakes, hahaha but I think I’ll have to wait a few years!!! They look amazing and I’m specially in love with the banana split ones, they look great )

  16. Great memories! Luckily over the years I have only made a couple. A teddy bear,and superman. Cakes are not my forte! Well done,

  17. Ah they are so oo lovely, I’ve never had to make children’s birthday cakes, no kids, and my mum didn’t bake. One year though she produced, a flat green jelly with bananas with meringues on top and told me it was a field of birthday mushrooms. I was so proud of her. My friends all thought it was a bit weird, as they wanted white cake with pink icing but I thought her field was pretty cool. I bet your kids adore you and your cakes, such a symbol of your love for them 🙂

  18. Your cakes are lovely Charlie. i love making theme cakes, I was the cake baker in our family. I’ve made guitar cake, typewriter cake, barbie doll cake (bake a cake in a bowl, invert and stick a barbie in the middle of it and decorate the cake as a skirt!), apartment layout cake, mickey mouse cake (one of our bulk stores rent the cake pans!), white water rafting cake. I should try to find the photos and scan them in for posterity! Thanks again for the trip down memory lane.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thanks Eva. I have made that barbie doll cake many times. I’ve decorated the ‘skirt’ in pink and white marshmallows or piped it with icing. I couldn’t find the photos because a lot of my old albums are in storage at the moment. The first time I made the barbie cake for Arabella she pulled out the barbie then burst into tears because I had chopped Barbie’s legs off to make her fit properly into the ‘outfit’. I’d love to see some of your cakes. I’ve never seen an apartment layout cake or a white water rafting cake.

  19. Yours are so much cuter than mine. My cakes always turn out ugly. but at least the kids don’t mind and they still taste good! I have to make a doll cake next week…perhaps I’ll dare to post it. Perhaps.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      But an ugly homemade cake is so much better than a bought cake! And kids can’t tell the difference between ugly and beautiful – all they care about is that mom made it!

  20. Ah, home-made birthday cakes are the best! I always think it’s sad when people just pick up a cake from a store… for some I guess it’s not a big deal, but I was already raised on home-made cakes. They taste better and there’s more love in them, since you know that the mother or father spent, sometimes several hours, at least some time making it for you. I remember my parents were up until 2 or 3am one birthday-eve making me a T.A.R.D.I.S. cake, because I really liked Dr. Who at that time! I love the look of that “Double Deck” cake especially… can you still buy that there? I think they stopped selling it in England… I used to adore that stuff!

  21. Ooh yes I think you’ve hit it right on the head. I never had this book as a child but as an adult poring over the cakes is fun in itself! Great job on your cakes over the years!

  22. What creative cakes! I tried to make a Barbie cake and her head would not come out of the mold; that was a tense moment. I have made a few bunny cakes too. Thanks for sharing & Have a Great Weekend:)

  23. The World Is My Cuttlefish says:

    There’s a huge variety of completed products and techniques here. Great effort, tireless mother. I hope we’ll see what Archie eventually chooses. I imagine it is a challenging yet deeply pleasing process to reach a decision.

  24. They are fantastic!!! I used to love choosing the cake from the Women’s Weekly Book. I saw an anniversary edition in Coles the other day and had to have it.

    I see they’re brought out a new one too. I love that they all use buttercream icing and not marzipan. I can’t wait to have kids so I can make the cakes too!

  25. Wow! I am so impressed! You’ve given your kids some fantastic cakes and wonderful memories. Even so, I imagine it’s the type of tradition that once you start down that path, there’s no exit until the kids are well-grown and on their own. Then again, there will be the grandkids’ birthdays to consider … 🙂

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Yes, you have described the problem perfectly. It’s like I’ve dug myself into a hole and I can’t climb out. There’s no way any of my children would be happy with a bought cake or even a home-baked plain circle cake! I think I’m in this for the long-haul.

  26. My mum was crap at cakes, lol. I only ever remember her making one, and it was chocolate with smarties on top – the best part was the smarties! Lol, at least she tried.

  27. I feel your pain Charlie! As I’m blessed with a very imaginative child, over the years I’ve created many a creative birthday cake including: a chocolate pirate chest, a space shuttle, bucking broncho, and the trickiest of the lot- a sarcophagus of Tutankhamun! It’s tough being a mum 🙂

  28. I’m with you. I have created all manner of cakes. Luckily for me my child was obsessed with cars and so there has been a lot of cars driving around roads, racetracks, over bridges, and mountains. I can’t imagine having more than 1 to deal with…….although I have offered to make for the nephews and nieces who tend to be choose from the bakery window reared. Great cakes, Mum!

  29. Gosh, all these look really impressive, in a that’s-a-lot-of-work way. Here’s hoping the next one will be an easy one…

  30. Oh now your just showing off lol. Seriously Hun, I pressure stuff there. I hid our WW cake book as I have nightmares leading up to my boys birthdays and it is all down to the cake. So much pressure!!!! And that’s just pressure from myself 🙂 xx

  31. Your post has me laughing and also dreading the day when my son will want to choose his birthday cake!

    Joe Bad is my favourite! 🙂

  32. What an impressive portfolio of cakes. Your family is quite fortunate. 🙂

  33. What a fun collection! One year I did a fish and a swimming pool for a pool birthday party. Did a jungle cake once. Drew an icing Batman one year. None of mine were as fancy as yours though. What a good mom you are!

  34. Awesome – you are clearly naturally talented for making “themed” birthday cakes!
    🙂 Mandy

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