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Spectacular birthday cakes

A fabulous cake is an essential ingredient for a brilliant birthday party, so here are five that children will love – from a wise old owl to a pixie house

Posted: 15 September 2011
by Junior

 1 of 6 

Creating these cakes is easy. Just make the basic sponge recipe (using the size indicated in each recipe, and in your child’s favourite flavour), then ice with a scrummy Buttercream, Chocolate Fudge Frosting or Glacé Icing.

Vanilla Sponge

Extra large

350g (12oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
350g (12oz) caster sugar
6 large eggs, beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
350g (12oz) plain flour
5 tsp baking powder
4–5 tbsp milk, at room temperature


250g (9oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
250g (9oz) caster sugar
4 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g (9oz) plain flour
4 tsp baking powder
3–4 tbsp milk, at room temperature


125g (41/2oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
125g (41/2oz) caster sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2tsp vanilla extract
125g (41/2oz) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp milk, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/ 350ºF/ Gas Mark 4. Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer or with a handheld whisk until light and fluffy, about 2–3 minutes. Gradually add the beaten eggs, mixing well between each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract. Sift together the flour and baking powder and addto the mixture in two batches, mixinguntil smooth. Add the milk and mix.

For Alternative Flavours

For a basic chocolate sponge, substitute four tablespoons of cocoa for the four tablespoons of the plain flour in the Extra Large Sponge recipe, three tablespoons in the Large and one in the Small recipe. For lemon or orange, substitute the grated zest of an unwaxed lemon or orange for the vanilla extract.


350g (12oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
700g (1Ib 9oz) icing sugar, sifted
Vanilla extract, optional

Cream the butter in an electric mixer or in a large bowl with a handheld electric whisk until it is very soft. Gradually beat in the icing sugar until the mixture is pale and smooth. Add a few drops of vanilla extract, if using.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

350g (12oz) dark chocolate, roughly chopped 
225g (8oz) unsalted butter
225ml (8fl oz) milk 
1 tsp vanilla extract
450g (1lb) icing sugar, sifted

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of barely simmering water (do not let the bowl touch the water). Stir until smooth, then set aside to cool slightly. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, vanilla extract and icing sugar until smooth. Add the chocolate mixture and stir until smooth. Leave the frosting to set and thicken slightly. 

Glacé Icing

1 large egg white
1 tbsp lemon juice 
250–300g (9–101/2oz) icing sugar, sifted

Beat the egg white and the lemon juice together in a bowl until mixed together thoroughly. Gradually add the icing sugar until the icing is smooth and has the consistency of slightly thickened double cream. Keep covered with clingfilm until ready to use.

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