Monday, September 21, 2009

The Other Birthday Cake

Generally, I don't make birthday cakes. I haven't got it in me to plan it all out and layer it like building blocks and then ice it and do fondant stuff. I'd much rather bake pies and pastries. Dave usually gets a pie of some sort for his birthday. When I was little, my aunt would make fabulous cakes for our birthdays - the kind with little while royal icing fences, teeny little washing lines, green sugar for grass and all manner of amazing details. We loved them.

And then I became a teenager. At one of my teenage birthdays, mum asked me what sort of cake I'd like and I told her "sugee (semolina), plain, no decoration." She was incredulous, but she made it to order and (because she couldn't help herself) put some silk flowers and one of my small softies on top. Sugee cakes........ mmmmmm, rich, buttery, crumbly, almondy.... frosting would have just completely ruined it.

Then, as fate would have it, I became a mother. And got introduced to the world of Sheet Cakes With Dora/Backyardigans/Disney Princesses on it. Very odd. But children loved them! And Emily would flip through the sample book in the supermarket bakery and solemnly shortlist all the cakes with pink and/or ponies/princesses on them) for her birthday. I'd hiss in her ear, "But they're plastic, darling!" and she'd whisper back, "But they're colorful! I like them!"

The day of her Hello Kitty party came and went and I was very pleased to have gotten away with only cupcakes. The next day we were going to celebrate her birthday with family, and I realized there needed to be another edible confection upon which to prop candles for blowing out. Found this interesting video and thought it would be fun to try this cake:

So two Better Crocker (or maybe one was a Duncan Hines or Pillsbury, I disremember) boxed mixes and goodness knows how many canisters of frosting later, Emily had a slightly lopsided pink princess castle cake.
Sadly (and quite obviously), I misplaced my icing spatula so had to make do with a regular butter knife. I like to imagine that this castle was built by underpaid workers who had an excess of cement and no actual bricks. And personalized by a sign-maker with no spatial sense at all. What is the cake equivalent of a seam-ripper? I needed one while constructing this.
Got to use my star nozzle to fill in the awkward intersections and seams. Am a maniac with my star nozzle. Star nozzles are like applique - great for covering holes and ugly bits.

From a distance, it looks rather charming.

Piping lettering vertically is not very fun. But Emily thought it was nice. And it's all about trying new things. Will I ever venture into fondant territory? Dunno. First, though, I want to make a sugee cake from scratch. I mean, a cake can be made to look like a work of art, but can it come close to tasting like sugee? Must have priorities.


  1. Oh, this is so cute! If my daughter would see this she probably instantly would want one! (I actually made the mistake to let her look through my cake decorating books and CHOOSE one she likes ... oh well, we ended up having very MANY she liked of which very many were things that I did not feel able to make ... I was lucky to get away with the Winnie Pooh in the end!) :-)
    And by the way, fondant in a way is easy - at least I feel that way - because just like with play dough you can redo everything as often as you want to. You just might need some patience. :-) The only tricky part is the actual covering of the cake. This one you pretty much only have one chance to get it right ... HATE that part!

  2. "Disremember" - I love it, adding it to my vocabulary now!

  3. My daughter would love this cake! I really want to try fondant, but I think it will have to wait until at least some of my small children are a little older...

  4. Love the cake. And the post had me cracking up as usual! : )

  5. Sugee - we spell it sooji, or at least I do. Would love to know how to make a cake with that. Could you share please? :)


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