Some numbers, between my last post and today:
Weeks past: 4
Birthday cakes made: 437 – all of them different, difficult and fiddly.
Birthday cakes I have really made: 3 - all of them different, difficult and fiddly, making it seem like 437.
Birthday parties attended: 3
Assorted cupcakes made for ferry wharf re-openings: 90
Number of people in the household: 3
Number of people with the flu: 3
Minutes to myself: approximately 2
Cocktails drunk: not nearly enough...
It is appropriate, given that life’s accelerator is pressed to the floor right now, that I made this bright yellow racing car for Master N’s second birthday.
It’s from the holy grail of birthday cake books, the Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book.
So many Aussie kids grew up on cakes from this book. My Mum made me one almost every year but I most remember the Dolly Varden and the Fairy Castle. Looking through the pages today brings some laughs. It was first published in 1980 when typewriters weren’t antiques and TVs and phones looked like this:
The night before Master N's party, the kitchen bench was trashed yet again, too many lollies were gobbled yet again and at least one bottle of Shiraz yet again fuelled the making of our yellow masterpiece.
Master N at least looked impressed :)
The next weekend was my niece’s birthday. She was turning seven, and wanted a rose meringue tower for her cake. I say "cake," but there's no actual cake in the recipe, just meringues attached to a cardboard cone. I thought it looked quite easy and agreed all too quickly to make it for her.
Actually, it was reasonably simple. The hardest part for my physics challenged brain was making the cardboard cone without a geometry set. I think next time, if there ever is one, that I would make a cake base, frost it, and sit the cone on top. This is what I have based my recipe on below.
As pretty as the meringues are, they’re very fragile and a tad insubstantial as birthday cake “pieces.” Better to have at least some cake, I think. The birthday girl didn't seem to mind though!
Last week, I churned out another rainbow cake for the lovely Marilyn at Thelma & Louise, Neutral Bay. This one was a bit more polished, with nice even layers and a more generous slathering of creamy vanilla frosting between each.
Tall, rich and fifty shades of delicious (well, six). Oh my. (That was for you Katie).
Ok, that’s enough stolen minutes of me time. I have pastry to make!
I will leave you with a few more numbers:
Weeks to go: just under 2
Babies coming along: 0
Uninterrupted movies I will watch on the plane: Countless, and then some
Pairs of shoes I will buy: Are you kidding, my husband reads this!
Got any exciting trips coming up? Got some stolen minutes of me time to tell me about it?
Rose Meringue Tower
(adapted from Donna Hay Kids Magazine Edition 8, 2011)
Vanilla Butter Cake:
¾ cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups self raising flour
½ cup milk
Preheat oven to 180C.
Grease and line a 21cm cake tin with non-stick baking paper.
Cream butter, sugar and vanilla in bowl of electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until just combined.
Add half the sifted flour and milk and beat gently until just combined. Repeat with remaining flour and milk.
Pour cake batter into prepared tin. Bake for 25-35 mins or until golden and a cake skewer comes out clean.
Leave cake to cool in tin before turning onto a wire rack.
4 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
Place butter and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until very pale (about 6 minutes). Turn beater speed to low and gradually add 2 cups of the icing sugar, a heaped tablespoon at a time, followed by 1 tablespoon of milk. Repeat with remaining icing sugar and milk. Turn up the mixer speed and beat the mixture until light and fluffy (about 8 minutes).
Also needed: Small roses in pinks and creams to decorate
660g caster sugar
3 teaspoons white vinegar
Preheat oven to 120C. Place the eggwhites in bowl of electric mixer and beat until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the sugar and vinegar and beat until the mixture is thick and glossy (appx 8 mins).
Place the mixture into a piping bag with a 1cm plain nozzle and pipe 60 x 5cm rounds onto baking trays lined with non-stick baking paper (I used four large baking trays).
Bake for 25 minutes then turn oven off and allow meringues to cool in the oven for 1 hour. (I used a wooden spoon to jam my oven door open slightly to prevent cracking. If your oven doesn’t fit all trays in at once, bake and cool in two lots. It won’t affect the quality of your second batch of meringues).
Here’s the tricky bit. Make a 30cm high cone with a 21cm round base from white cardboard. Make sure your cardboard isn’t too stiff. For those with geometry sets, there are instructions easily found for this via a Google search. For those like me with no kids in high school and therefore no need to have a compass lying around the house, just wing it by cutting out the height and rolling the cardboard to the required base diameter, secure with sticky tape and cut across the bottom until the cone stands up straight and doesn’t lean. Then cover it in foil.
To assemble, place the cake in the centre of a foil-lined cake board. Spread the frosting on the top and sides of the cake with a pallet knife. Place the cardboard cone on top of the cake and spread this with frosting also.
Gently place meringues around the sides of the cake and the cone, starting at the bottom and working to the top.
Decorate with rose buds and small roses between the meringues. Just gently press them in and they will stay in place if not moved around too much (or taken on long car trips). If transporting the cake, my advice is to place the roses on when you arrive.
**Unlike me, take lots of photos of your hard work before you take it to a play centre with hideous yellow lighting!!