Growing up in Australia in the 1980s, The Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book was a household staple. Flicking through the cakes and choosing just one was a beloved ritual for every birthday.
Now I’m a parent myself, along with many other children of the 80s I now make these cakes for our kids. I’m not one of those mums who goes all-out on a comprehensive party theme with matching decorations, food, and favours. But I do love doing the cake. Even though I’m just following instructions, I enjoy the creativity of shaping and icing to make the cake look as much as possible like the one in the book.
As my kids have grown, they have more developed interests and usually demand specific shapes or themes for their cakes that go beyond the book. I usually try to oblige (it’s the birthday person’s choice, after all!), but there does often have to be a compromise. This has led to a princess castle being turned into Hogwarts, basic number cakes being adorned with an assortment of different objects, and a TV cake made into a video game set.
I enjoy the constraints, the challenge of creating something that links my childhood and theirs, and the joy of giving my kids a special cake for their birthdays. I also just like eating cake!