Last week, in the thick of party planning, it dawned on me: I have never made my 3 year-old a birthday cake. No, not even for his first birthday, which I’ve been told is kinda a prerequisite for moms who are cementing the fact that they have made it to the first year, like some sort of ceremonial initiation. And to be straight and forthcoming, I have only made my 5 year-old ONE of his birthday cakes – If I told you I couldn’t remember which one would you judge me even more? Anyway, you do the math – that’s 1 cake out of 7 birthdays. When I say it like that, I can’t help but feel like the worlds biggest loser.
While I’m all for calling in the troops and getting the people who are good at making cakes do what they do, something about it just didn’t sit well with me. I began to wonder : Will my kids look back and see all the master pieces created by the experts and ask “Why didn’t you make our cakes mom?”
After my usual Go-To-Girl not being available to help and receiving some rather high quotes for what I perceived to be a pretty simple Minion cake, I began to wonder if it wasn’t the universe’s way of telling me that I needed to step up to the plate, put my big girl mommy panties on and just get down to it.
I probably should have started off by saying that I don’t bake. I just don’t. Give me meat and spices and vegetables and I will come up with just about anything. I make killer roast chicken, Thai dishes and my Lamb Curry just may go down in history as one of the most melt-in-your experiences known to man.
Now don’t get me wrong, when it comes to sweet dishes I always start off with the best intentions. You may even notice me getting all jittery with excitement just before I break the first egg – the hopeful part in be believing that somehow this time will be different. This time my creation will be every bit the perfect picture I have in my head, or more realistically – the perfect picture pinned in hopeful determination on my overcrowded Pinterest board. Each time I believe I will master the art of flour mixed with sugar and eggs, I mean how hard can it really be?
To answer that question, it’s not as easy as you think. I know for me it really just doesn’t come naturally – from breaking the eggs, to measuring and stirring, the whole thing just feels strangely awkward to me. This might have something to do with the fact that I can be a little anti-establishment in the kitchen and very seldomly follow recipes when I cook. Unfortunately I have come to realise that baking doesn’t allow you such freedom and if a recipe calls for baking soda you sure as heck better add it. It’s quite a systematic process which I’m sure is what holds such a strong appeal for many.
I decided I would throw all caution and fear to the wind and attempt a cake I had seen in my Facebook thread a while back. And it goes without saying, I didn’t follow much of a guide instead opting for a basic chocolate cake and relying on my own creativity to do the rest. I have to admit that I rather enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment, Although the most wonderful feeling had to be seeing my little boy’s face when he saw my masterpiece completed.
I really wish I could tell you it was a complicated and delicate process and took me an entire day to make (because the longer you spend on something the more impressed people are right?) but this cake took me all of 2 hours to make, from start to finish. And that includes cooking and cooling time. I’m hoping my time- saving techniques and over the top toppings will be just as impressive to the moms who, like me, want to make a killer cake, but one that doesn’t include a three day plan that involves blue prints, architectural drawings and cost you thousands of rands together with your sanity.
Saying that, this cake was so easy, possibly the easiest Minion cake in the world! And I even had the dads begging for the recipe so it could actually be that I will be making their cakes every year going forward. Might I add it cost R220! This cake has honestly restored my faith in my own baking capabilities. After that long introduction, this is what I did!
- I followed a VERY simply chocolate cake recipe which just calls for eggs, flour, butter, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla essence and sugar. (Find anyone that appeals to you!) I Separated the mixture into two pans and cooked for 25 minutes (My little secret is to rather take it out just before it has completely cooked through – obviously you don’t want it raw but there is nothing worse than dry cake!) Leave them to cool for the FULL 15 minutes. (one of the many reasons Im not a good baker : patience!)
- On top on the first layer I poured a jar of slightly melted Nutella until it was fully covered.
- Placed the other cake on top and covered the entire cake with caramel straight from the tin. (You could get a way with 1 tin but let’s be honest, its probably best to go ahead with a second tin.)
- Placed KitKat fingers around the entire cake (*TIP: You may want to use the left over Nutella to use as a “glue” to stick them on although I’m sure the caramel is sticky enough. Also, cut your 4 fingered kitkats in half using a sharp knife so they are straight and don’t break ) Once they were covering the perimeter of the cake in a round circle, we tied some rubber earphones around the entire cake. This was more for the fact that we didn’t have any ribbon but we liked the quirkiness it added to the cake. You could use ribbon or coloured string and tie a big bow around the cake – this holds it together and keeps it from imploding!)
- Then came the really fun part where I got the the kids to help – we filled the top with smarties, astros and speckled eggs! If you have a theme you can find a small figurine and place it tin the centre before filling. We had several Minion toys from Mac Donalds just lying around the house but it’s pretty easy to find super hero figurines or even a my little pony for a girls theme!
Here are a few more pictures purely for bragging purposes. Who knows perhaps it may even turn out on a few mom’s Pinterest boards – just be sure to pin it under “Mom shortcuts” Or “Easy recipes” – we don’t want to go scarring people off now! But let me say, If i can do it, ANYBODY CAN!
Let me know what you think – Or if you have any other tips to add!