It’s Alfie’s birthday on the weekend and he’s going to be nine. At his primary school, when it’s your birthday, you’re allowed to bring in something for the class to share.
The school does suggest that you order cupcakes from the canteen or that you can bring in a box of ice blocks and I believe these are the preferred options.
I remember when Archie and Arabella were in primary school. There hadn’t been any emails or notes sent home to parents about what you could or couldn’t bring in, but it was known that something for the birthday girl or boy was allowed. When Arabella was in Year 2 I made a swimming pool cake that had blue jelly for the pool that had sides made of rolls of different coloured icing. It was a masterpiece. It even had little boys and girls swimming in the pool (jelly).
But when I delivered it to the classroom the teacher took one look at it and nearly cried. It wasn’t the reaction I’d been hoping for. She said, ‘How do you expect me to cut this?’ And it occurred to me that I hadn’t thought that far ahead. Teachers don’t want grief. They don’t want mess. And they absolutely don’t want additional challenges.
From that day on, I’ve tried to think about being the one responsible for dividing the spoils and so have changed tact from a whole cake to lots of little cakes.
Tomorrow is Alfie’s ‘day of days’ where he’s able to walk into the classroom bearing the goods. I’ve made something I thought he’d be proud of and something that wouldn’t reduce the teacher to a bumbling mess. These are ladybirds and they’re easy to make as long as you set aside a day to create them. And I’m not sure what the teacher is going to say about the antennas (made of wire). I see hurdles.
Anyway, here is the recipe for my ladybirds.
Degree of Difficulty: 2/5 for skill, 4/5 for time-consuming
Cost: The cupcakes are cheap and cheerful; decorating them can be costly if you have to buy all the bits and pieces.
- 3/4 cup plain flour
- 1/2 cup castor sugar
- 1/4 cup cocoa
- 2 tspns baking powder
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 80gms softened butter
- 1/2 tspn vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 180C (375F).
Line a muffin tin with red patty cases.
Place the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix until combined. Add remaining ingredients and beat with electric beaters on low for 2 minutes. Increase speed to high and beat for an additional 2 minutes. Place a heaped tablespoon of mixture into each patty case. Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes or until cooked. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- 200gms dark chocolate, broken into small bits
- 1/3 cup pouring cream
In a double boiler, melt chocolate and cream together. Mix until smooth, then remove from heat. Allow to cool until spreading consistency.
- 500gms black icing
- 500gms white icing
- red food colouring (powder is better than liquid)
- icing pens in black and red
- liquid glue
- poultry pin
Use a metal spatula the ganache over the top of each cupcake.
Roll out black icing on a board covered with icing sugar but be careful to not get too much icing sugar on the black icing as it marks.
Use a circular cutter to cut out 12 circles and place one on top of each of the cupcakes.
Dye 75% of the white icing, red.
Roll out red icing (again, being careful not to mark with icing sugar) then use the same cutter to cut out 12 circles. Cut out a small semi-circle from each of the circles and discard. Cut each remaining circle in half to create two wings. Use liquid glue to stick the wings on top of each cupcake.
Use a poultry pin (or similar) to cut out 72 little circles to make the spots on the ladybird’s back. This will give you 3 spots for each wing. Use edible glue on the back of each spot to set them in place.
Roll out remaining white icing and use the poultry pin to press out 24 circles for eyes. Use the edible glue to stick the eyes in place. Use a black icing pen to draw pupils onto the eyes of each ladybird. Use the red icing pen to draw a mouth onto each ladybird.
Cut off 24 lengths of wire. Use remaining red icing to make 24 circles. Stick one circle onto the end of each length of wire. Stick into cupcakes, above the eyes for antennas.
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