The first cake was decorated as a tribute to her favourite You Tube channel, Cocomelon. The channel consists of short animations of nursery rhymes, all a couple of minutes long, with the same characters – a family of five and various animals – cropping up regularly. Until she was about a year old this was pretty much all my daughter watched on TV – I wasn’t sure she would follow programmes that had episodes or dialogue, and she seemed to really like the songs. The channel’s logo looks a bit like a watermelon with a television screen face so I did my own version as a tribute, covering a cake in pale green fondant and adding dark green stripes and using flesh coloured fondant for the face. I bought a ‘1st birthday’ cake topper on two long sticks to go in the top, and of course a number 1 candle.
Baby S is allergic to egg and I wanted her to be able to try a little bit of the cake, so I used a vegan recipe for lemon cake that I’ve used before. I was careful not to let her try the icing as I thought it contained too much sugar, but I didn’t worry about reducing the sugar content of the cake itself as I thought she wouldn’t have more than a couple of mouthfuls. As it was, she wasn’t really interested in eating the cake at all! (Since then five months later she had some of her granny’s birthday cake and really liked it).
I can’t seem to find the recipe anywhere now but it’s quite easy to search for vegan lemon cake recipes online.
For her second cake, I didn’t make it egg-free since I correctly assumed baby S wouldn’t want to eat any. In the end when we had the cake at her grandparents’ house I think she was getting ready for a nap.
I wanted the cake to represent something else that my daughter liked and remembered she was really attached to her Sophie the giraffe – she has two in fact. She seems to have lost interest in the giraffe over the past few months and prefers to play with other toys but there was a time when she was happiest clutching the giraffe in her little fist and waving it aloft.
It’s fun to make cakes with a surprise inside – particularly in this case because my two-year-old niece would be there and I thought she might enjoy it. It’s a lot easier than you might think to make a polka dot effect inside a cake – or in this case, giraffe print.
So how do you make a cake with a giraffe pattern inside? I used a standard vanilla cake recipe, and split the batter into two bowls, adding cocoa powder to one to turn it chocolatey. For this cake, you want to have about two thirds of your batter yellow vanilla and a third chocolate – I also added a bit of yellow food colouring to the vanilla batter.
If you want a perfectly even pattern – almost a chequerboard effect – inside, then you pipe concentric rings of alternative colours around your prepared (greased) cake tin. As I wanted the giraffe print to be a more natural random pattern, I put a layer of vanilla cake in the bottom, piped some very uneven circles of chocolate cake batter and then a layer of vanilla over the top. You can see what this looks like when it has baked, and here it is after I sliced the top off the cake to make it flat – and then the inside when it was sliced.
I covered the cake in white fondant and decided to turn the giraffe itself into the number 1, so I cut a 1 out of yellow fondant and added brown spots as well as ears, a face and hair. I don’t think giraffes have hair quite like that down their backs but never mind! I decided the rest of the cake looked a bit plain but I hadn’t left enough room for my daughter’s name (if you have a one year old, you will understand the rush things have to be done in while they nap!). So I used some of the leftover green fondant from her other birthday cake to make some trees and used a butterfly plunger cutter to do some little pink butterflies at the top. I was quite pleased with how it looks overall and have printed out some photos for my daughter’s baby book so when she is older she can look back and see what cake and presents she had for her first birthday!