Some people take their little ones to a farm or zoo for their first birthday, we took her to a restaurant. Start as we mean to go on.
All little foodies need a kitchen. Little kitchens for 1 year olds are not the easiest to find, but I happened to stumble across this fantastic wooden one from Early Learning Centre. It doubles up as a walker and the storage underneath is great for the tea set she was given. However some poor unsuspecting teddies and wooden animals have been “cooked” in the kitchen already.
There are only a few days between mine & LB’s birthday so we decided to celebrate with a BBQ for family. We were certainly blessed with the weather. All first birthdays (or any birthday for that matter) need a birthday cake.
The inspiration behind the cake was this rabbit cake from the Asda magazine. The week before the BBQ I discovered the wonder of Nigella’s custard birthday cake. A soft, fluffy sponge cake that keeps well, can be made in the food processor all while a nearly one year old is demanding your attention? yes please.
You can buy and hire tins for number cakes, but I found this crafty graphic on pinterest that shows you how to make numbers 0-9 using just square, loaf or circular tins. This method leaves a few offcuts that are perfect for coconut haters, *stares at Hubs*. Do note though I picked up the wrong sized cake board and ended up having to hack my number to fit on the board.
As I wanted a layer of jam in the middle I find it’s often easier to bake the layers separately to ensure the cake cooks through evenly rather than cutting a cake in half. Although many of my cake tins are meant to be the same size, they aren’t. This isn’t too much of a problem if you’re going to shape the cake then smother in icing. I ended up using two disposable square tins. A bit of crafty maths to help with scaling the recipe up and we were good to go.
What you don’t see here is that I was awake 5am the morning of the BBQ making sugarpaste rabbits, trying to remember to take photos in the dawn light in between stages while trying to get everything else sorted. Not my best set of photos, I know. LB approved though. After a few strawberries, she decided the rabbits were what she wanted.
First Birthday Rabbit Cake
Serves 15 (approx)
Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature before beginning.
For the sponge
- 300g plain flour
- 4 heaped tbsp custard powder
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 6 large eggs
- 340g soft butter
- 300g caster sugar
- 3 – 4 tbsp milk
- Raspberry jam (roughly half a jar depending on how fond you are of jam)
For the buttercream
- 500g icing sugar
- 120g custard powder
- 300g unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tbsp recently boiled water
For the decoration
- 150g desiccated coconut
- green food dye
- sugarpaste (white and tiny amount of pink)
- Black sugarcraft pen
- Preheat the oven to 180°C then butter and line the bottom of two 20cm / 8 inch square sandwich tins.
- Put all of the sponge ingredients, except the milk and jam, into a food processor. Process to a smooth batter, and then add the milk a tablespoon at a time to make a soft dropping consistency.
- Divide the mixture between the two cake tins and bake (ideally on the same shelf) for 20 minutes. The cakes are ready when golden in colour and spring back to touch.
- Let the tins sit on a cooling rack for 5 minutes before turning out and removing paper liner. Allow to cool before assembling.
- While the cake cools make the decorations. To colour the coconut put it in a ziploc bag with a small amount of green food dye. Seal the bag, remove as much air as possible, then massage the contents until the coconut is green and evenly covered.
- To make the rabbits roll three pieces of white icing. One the size of a small sprout (body), one of a pea (tail) and the third the size of a small grape (head). Roll the body into a ball then squash very slightly. Take the head ball and stick this to one end of the body with a small amount of water and press slightly into the body. Stick the tail ball at the other end. Take two small pea sized pieces of the white icing and roll into pear shapes. Press these on top of the body near the head. and flatten. These are the ears. Add a tiny amount of pink icing for the nose and mark the eyes with a black sugarcraft pen.
- Forget sieving the icing sugar and custard powder just put it in the food processor and blitz to get rid of any lumps. Then add the butter, processing again to make the buttercream come together. Feed the boiling water down the funnel with the motor running to make the icing easier to spread.
- Now is the time to start constructing the cake. First sandwich the two layers together with jam and cut in to thirds, like the picture above.
- Using a small amount of buttercream stick the pieces of cake on to the cake board in the shape of a number one. Unless you are going to ice the cake straight away cover closely in clingfilm to stop the cake drying out.
- As this is a light spongy cake the buttercream can pull off the cake. The best way round this is to do a crumb coat. Using a pallet knife carefully put a thin layer of buttercream over the cake and filling in any gaps. Don’t worry if some cake crumb gets stuck in the buttercream, this will be hidden in the next layer. Put the cake in the fridge for 10-20 minutes to allow the icing to set. This is when you grab your first and last cup of tea of the day and worry if the postman is going to deliver the last minute eBay purchase of party hats (he doesn’t).
- Once the crumb coat is set, spread on the rest of the buttercream. Before this final buttercream layer has set press the green coconut into it. Secure the bunnies and flowers with leftover buttercream.
- Sit down, drink that cuppa that has now gone cold and clean up the chaos.