Hello, I couldn’t decide what theme to have for my daughters’ 3rd birthday, so I let her have a look at the Party Pieces website with me, and she immediately said “Princess, Mummy”, so princess it was. Although I’d thought about doing a “Hello Kitty” theme so I’d already bought some cookie cutters from John Lewis, but as the “customer” requested a princess, then princess it had to be.
As I knew I’d be short on time, I decided to make a birthday cake shaped as a princess, and I was glad that I didn’t decide to make a castle as two of her little friends had a castle cake for their birthday the week before, so at least we weren’t copying them. I baked the cake using the Wonder Mold Set, which has a skirt shape tiffin tin. In the past I have cooked cakes in bowls, but using this tin, it’s more tapered at the top and gives better proportions without having to trim the cake into shape.
The set is four pieces because it’s the main tin and a base to support it during cooking, then there is a central core which screws into place which helps to conduct heat through the cake so it cooks evenly. The set comes with a dolls body on a pick to press into the cake, but to be sure of a blonde one, I ordered a blonde doll pick separately. So once I was set with the tin, I needed to bake the cake. So I asked my “customer” what flavour it should be – and without hesitation I was told “co-late”, so chocolate it had to be.
I’d been experimenting with chocolate cake recipes for our 15th October issue, and I tried out one of them in this tin, and it worked perfectly and gave a lovely moist cake – but I’ll talk more about that when the recipe is published, so that was my first Woman’s Weekly recipe for the party. My next WW recipe was for the Italian Meringue Buttercream, which I used over the cake and under the sugarpaste, and then I decorated the cake with sugarpaste, starting with some white frills at the front and then a pink skirt to match a princess dress that I’d bought her to wear at the party. And the finished result:
But using WW recipes didn’t stop there, I decided to make cupcakes for everyone to take home rather than taking cake wrapped in napkins, which always seems to become a squashed mess. And for the topping, I made the same crowns that we made for our Jubilee Street Party feature last year, and the marshmallow flowers that I’ve been demonstrating at Woman’s Weekly “Live!” in Manchester this week. And an old favourite of mine are the butterfly cupcakes, with the Italian Meringue Buttercream piped as a flower with a butterfly on top. Usually I make sugar butterflies and paint them with lustre food colouring, but for speed I used the Dr Oetker wafer paper butterflies. Then as time was getting really short, and I still had some buttercream, I filled the centres of the cupcakes with raspberry jam, piped buttercream swirls on top and sprinkled over some freeze-dried raspberry pieces, which made a nice change to using sugar sprinkles.
And for packaging I love the domed muffin holders which are quite strong and stop the topping getting squashed as you carry the cupcakes home.
Then, as I’d already bought the cookie cutters, I decided to make cookies on sticks, as I did for our Jubilee Street party when I made Flag Cookies.
I find the easiest way to decorate these is to roll out some sugarpaste just before the biscuits come out of the oven, and use the same cutter to cut out some sugarpaste, and then to lay the sugarpaste over the cookies when they’re still hot. That way the sugarpaste melts slightly and sticks to the biscuits without having to use any other edible “glue”.
I thought having them on sticks would make it easy for the children to carry home, as the nursery has a policy of the children not eating cakes whilst at the nursery but the parents are given them to take home so they have the choice as to whether their children eat them or not. I think that most children ate these before they left the playground because there were lots of black faces, where they’d got the black royal icing on themselves!
Now my challenge is – what can I do next year?