Vodka O Birthday Cake

Arabella has just celebrated her 19th birthday.  While this was not a birthday carrying the weight of other milestone birthdays like an 18th or 21st, it still had huge significance to Arabella who was keen to ensure the date didn’t slip by without a loud splash.

Miss Arabella and her cake

Miss Arabella and her cake

We booked a clubhouse on Balmoral Beach that has glass doors that slide away leading to a balcony overlooking one of Sydney’s best views.  On Saturday night 40 of the ‘young and hip’ crowd gathered to celebrate.  It was a drinks party with pass-around food and of course, a cake.

The baked slab cake

The baked slab cake

In order to keep the costs under control we chose to self-cater which means the kitchen is locked off so you can’t do any cooking on-site or any re-heating.   Not a problem!  I made three different vegan dips that were served with gluten-free crackers then I dialed the number of a gourmet pizza company that delivered two dozen pizzas halfway through the night.

The sculptured cake.  It would have looked so much better if placed on a rectangular board but I couldn't source one!

The sculptured cake. It would have looked so much better if placed on a rectangular board but I couldn’t source one!

Our little Alfie didn’t want to miss the occasion and not knowing what else to do with him, we brought him along.  He is not at his best when given nothing to do so I said to him, ‘Alfie; you’re the barman’.  And his eyes lit up as he just loves responsibility and with a big brother and sister he also likes to feel important and that he’s included in events and not just a hanger-on.  He snapped to attention and ran behind the bar.  I showed him how to open champagne bottles and beer bottles and twist tops and how to pour beverages without them frothing and foaming and spilling over.  He was in overload and I’m sure he probably loved this party more than the birthday girl.

The cake covered in chocolate ganache

The cake covered in chocolate ganache

The crowd kept the barman very busy; in fact he was on his feet the entire night.  But not only does Alfie like to be involved, he also seizes on opportunities.  Early on there was a lull in activity and he took a serviette and a pen from my handbag and wrote on it, ‘Tips’.  He put it at the front of the bar with a plastic cup on top of it and before the night was over he’d made $48.80 in tips.  Nice work if you can get it!

Please tip the barman

Please tip the barman

I asked Arabella what cake she would like for her party.  She said, ‘Can you make a Vodka bottle?’  And I was sure that I couldn’t.  She said, ‘A Vodka O bottle, mum; that would be so much fun’.  Yes.  So much fun if you don’t have to make it.

The letters were cut out using a stencil

The letters were cut out using a stencil

The good thing, is that these days you don’t have to go out and buy a bottle of Vodka O to work out what it looks like or visit the library and try to find a photographed image.  You can just google from the convenience of your own lounge room and up pops the image you need to copy.  Having never bought a bottle of Vodka in my life, I found an image on google and copied it.  Making this cake wasn’t as difficult as I thought it was going to be.

The cake with pins in the green flowers to stop them sliding off the cake.  These were removed when the edible glue had hardened.

The cake with pins in the green flowers to stop them sliding off the cake. These were removed when the edible glue had hardened.

I made a large cake as in, very large.  This cake has enormous quantities so there’s too much mixture to fit into a Kitchen Aid.  I mixed mine in a large bowl using a hand-mixer.  The hardest part is shaping the cake into a bottle and you really need to be a little artistic with perhaps some sculpting skills.  Those aren’t my strengths but my husband is a talented artist and so like Michaelangelo finding David in a block of marble, he found my Vodka O bottle in a slab of cake.

A bottle of Vodka O

A bottle of Vodka O

The cake is from a Donna Hay Weddings Magazine.  It’s dense and heavy and utterly delicious and if you only make one cake this year, you really should make this one – you won’t regret it and if you don’t need a massive cake you can always halve the quantities.

Resting under the stars

The boys resting under the stars with the moon coming up in the distance

And as for the birthday girl, she had a fantastic evening and declared it, ‘the best party ever’.

Blowing out 19 candles

Blowing out 19 candles

White Chocolate Cake:  Begin this recipe a day ahead.

Serves:  50+

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  Very affordable considering how many it feeds.  This would be a cheap dessert option for any function.

  • 1 kg (2lb) butter, chopped
  • 1ltr (2 pints) milk
  • 8 cups caster (superfine) sugar
  • 600g (20 oz) white chocolate, chopped (I used Lindt)
  • 8 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 1/2 tbspns baking powder
  • 1 tbspn vanilla extract
  • 8 eggs

Preheat the oven to 160C (325F).

Place the butter, milk, sugar and chocolate in a large saucepan over medium-low heat and stir until smooth.  Place the flour, baking powder, vanilla and eggs in a large bowl.  Add the chocolate mixture and use an electric hand mixer to mix until smooth.

Line a 40cm (15.5 inch) x 30cm (12 inch) cake tin with non-stick baking paper.  Pour in the mixture and bake for 2 hours 20 minutes or until the cake is cooked when tested with a skewer.

Allow the cake to cool in the tin then upturn and wrap in plastic wrap.  Place in the freezer overnight.

To Turn the Slab into a Vodka O Bottle:

Serves:  Cake will now serve 30+

Degree of Difficulty:  4/5 (Because of shaping involved and the time factor)

Cost:  Not too much but biggest expense is definitely the chocolate.

For the Ganache:

  • 60ogm (21.5 oz) dark chocolate (I used Lindt)
  • 3/4 cup pouring cream

For the Cake:

  • a cake board larger than the cake (a rectangle shape would be good but I couldn’t source one, hence the square cake board on the diagonal)
  • 2 x packets of royal icing
  • edible glue
  • blue colouring
  • black icing (best to buy this)
  • alphabet stencil (I bought mine from a Newsagency)
  • edible glue
  • green colouring
  • primrose cutter
  • black candy writer

For the Ganache: Combine chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir with a metal spoon until smooth. Remove bowl from heat. Set aside at room temperature to cool, stirring occasionally, until ganache is thick and spreadable.

To Decorate the Cake:

Cover the cake in ganache and use a metal spatula to make as smooth as possible.

Take the royal icing and set two small amounts aside to tint later.  Knead remainder until smooth.  Roll out on a bench dusted with icing sugar until a few millimetres thick.  Collect the rolled icing with the rolling pin then roll over ganache and make smooth to ensure all air bubbles are removed.  Trim around edges and trim top of bottle.

Take one lot of reserved icing and tint blue.  Roll out and use to cover top of bottle.

Take black icing and roll out until a few millimetres thick.  Try to use as little icing sugar as possible as it will affect the colour of the icing.  Use stencil to cut out letters and set aside. Using a paint brush, brush underside of letters with edible glue and stick onto cake.

Take the remainder of the icing and tint green.  Use a primrose cutter to make flower shapes.  Stick onto cake using edible glue.

Soften the contents of the candy writer in accordance with directions on pack.  Print writing on top and bottom of bottle.  (I practised first on paper towel). Cake is now ready for the party!

With a sculptured cake there is always plenty leftover and it isn’t good for this to go to waste.  As luck would have it, there was a birthday at Carl’s office on Monday morning.  Traditionally a cake is bought by the office however, I used the leftover ganache to cover the leftover cake and Carl took it in to the birthday boy.  There were no leftovers and better yet, no waste!

A family happy snap

A family happy snap

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  1. Happy 19th to your sweet daughter. What a wonderful mom to fulfill her challenging cake request. Love that last family shot.

  2. YAY You’ve finally had the chance to post about Arabella’s birthday 🙂 I have been waiting for this post for the longest time! Wow can’t believe another year has flown past and Arabella is now 19! She’s look more like a young lady and even prettier than before! She’s also very tall! I didn’t think or know she was that tall hehe

    You’ve done it again Charlie! You’ve made and AMAZING cake and it looks EXACTLY like the Vodka O Bottle! I had to google it because I haven’t seen it before but seriously it’s identical! So well done!

    Hope you’ve had some time to rest because you really deserve it after making this cake! xox

  3. Wow! You are a nicer mom than me! That cake would have taken me a week.

  4. Now that looks like a fantastic bash Charlie; you always throw the most fabulous parties. That cake is gorgeous even though you’ve never bought a bottle of vodka in your life! I must introduce to to our signature martini! Happy belated birthday to the Princess Arabella!
    That’s quite the little entrepreneur you are raising!

  5. Sounds like a great party and a fab location. Happy Birthday to Arabella and well done to the barman Alfie. GG xx

  6. Happy Birthday to your gorgeous girl! What a beautiful family you have there, and I like Alfies style. He’s an entrepreneur in the making 😉 xx

  7. The cake came out beautifully. What a good looking family you lot are!

  8. What a delightful and happy occasion, Charlie. Everyone had a good time, and the cake is fantastic. I’m really impressed with the size and unique qualities. And hats off to the clever bar man! Tips! He was thinking now, wasn’t he!! Happy Birthday to beautiful Arabella!

  9. Happy Birthday to her, she is beautiful. Blessing and Happiness to you and to your family, Thank you for this beautiful cake, too, love, nia

  10. Happy birthday to Arabella! Looks like she had a good time at the party with a gorgeous cake. Lucky Arabella to have such a wonderful mum. I love the family photo of you guys, very cute.
    My daughter turns 19 in November, luckily her birthday falls on the US Thanksgiving day this year and I’m hoping she’ll just accept that as her party :).
    Today it’s my second daughter, Noor’s birthday. She is 16 and thankfully didn’t want a party or a bottle shaped cake! Her birthday request is always a tiramisu which is chilling in the fridge as I write this.


  11. Happy Birthday to Arabella and congratulations to you for having raised her and for making this amazing cake. I am always in awe when I see perfectly decorated cakes. Mine usually taste good, but…rarely are they going to win a prize for beauty or creativity. Great photo of the family as well!

  12. You are such an attractive family that it’s a little bit ridiculous. Seriously; how are you all SO PRETTY?

    The cake is almost as beautiful.

  13. What a fun night!!! You did such a gorgeous job on her cake and everyone looks so happy. 🙂

  14. What a fantastic job you did on the cake! Looks and sounds like a great night!

  15. Great looking cake! You outdid yourself. Love Archie – he’s a very enterprising child. Glad he had a profitable evening in multiple ways! Fun post – thanks.

  16. Congratulations to the birthday girl. In Canada, 19 means you can buy alcohol legally so it’s a bigger deal than one’s 18th birthday. You keep pushing those boundaries on cakes/events. I don’t know what you’re going to come up with next or what you’re going to be asked to pull off.

    Alfie sounds like he’s a got a good business/financial head on those cute shoulders. $48 plus dollars isn’t chump change. 🙂

  17. Beautiful girl and what a fabulous cake! This is just too cute/cool for words. Thank you for sharing it!

  18. What a fun cake!

  19. Awww happy birthday Arabella 😀
    You made it so super special!


  20. I nearly cried laughing at Alfie’s tip jar. What a genius!!! I don’t think you have to worry about him when he grows up.
    The cake looks wonderful Charlie. Absolutely perfect and I love the family pic.
    Happy Belated Birthday Arabella!

  21. It seems like only a short while ago you were telling us about her 18th! Great cake, ideal for a function. Looks like all had fun.

  22. I can see why everyone had a blast at this party! Drinks flowing, pizzas arriving, cute barman, incredible cake! Love Alfie’s tip jar (sheer genius)…and Arabella is a beauty!!!

    Lambeau is home…and not a fan of the big incision down her belly. I hope she feels better tomorrow. Hope your pups have recovered from their dental work! xo

  23. Miss Arabella is just stunning! Looks like a great party and congratulations to Alfie on his quick thinking. What a fun cake too I love how you always rise to the challenge.

  24. You’re all gorgeous! I got a bit misty on that last photo. What a wonderful party and your cake sounds delicious and it was beautiful. The whole family is talented!

  25. Happy Birthday Arabella! She looks so happy in those pics 😀 And great job on the cake Charlie! I saw your pics mid construction on facebook and wondered what the end result would look like!

  26. great lookin cake Charlie! Happy birthday Arabella!

  27. happy birthday arabella – she’s a stunner! and well done on the cake charlie. great execution! xx

  28. Happy 19 Birthday. You really went all out on that cake and it turned out wonderful and looks like they had a great time at the gathering. Take Care, BAM

  29. That cake is stunning! You really know how to rise to the occasion, and your Alfie is quite an entrepreneur. He will go far, that boy. Arabella looks gorgeous.

  30. Happy belated birthday wishes to Arabella! Stunning cake.

  31. Happy 19th birthday to Arabella. How fabulous that you were able make the perfect cake for the party. You really do have a wonderful talent Charlie and I love the family shot.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  32. What a great cake! And I love that the barman is on his tiptoes in the final pic! 🙂

  33. She’s so gorgeous! What a fun party–you’re such a cool mom!

  34. AMAZING job!! My sister in law almost always makes and decorates her kids birthday cakes and does an amazing job and I’m always jealous!! I do not have an artistic bone in my body… 🙁 But I can appreciate great art!! And this is it!!! LOVE!!! xo

  35. Looks fabulous. I love the Balmoral Beach Club.
    You are fabulous parents.

  36. wonderful party and beautiful vodka cake

  37. Very nice job,Mom! Beautiful girl and looks like a great time.How inspired of you to make Alfie the barman!

  38. First of all, let me say that Arabella is gorgeous!!! What a lovely young woman and a beautiful smile. Obviously takes after her mother! What a great party! Wonderful, cake, great venue and a charismatic bartender.

  39. Awesome job on the cake Charlie! And such a glamorous family, you must be proud! xo

  40. Awww…I missed this post. Happy 19th to Arabella! She is so beautiful….you cup is full, God bless. Now I could never bake that cake, so not even trying it. But it looks gorgeous, makes you such an awesome mother!

  41. Belated happy birthday greetings to Arabella! That was some cake you created for her, Charlie. You really are skilled when it comes to decorating a cake and I love the closing family portrait. 🙂

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