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18th birthday cake or dessert-quick,easy cheat

By: Deb

I’d asked my Son what kind of cake he wanted for his 18th birthday dinner with close friends and family at a  local restaurant.

He ask me to make him a mousse cake which is a family favourite. Unfortunately come his birthday I was a little unwell and taking medication which really didn’t bode well for creating a cake suitable for a public get-together ;)

So what to do?

We headed out to the local Sara Lee Factory outlet as I’d used their catering sized cakes before, they are of good quality and some do have a very nice flavour.

While there I had an idea.

My son loves Bavarian dessert.

We used Sara Lee Entertainer Bavarians

We used Sara Lee Entertainer Bavarians

It’s a kind of biscuit base with chocolate, vanilla or other flavoured pudding kind of mousse filling. Quite often more than one flavour and sometimes has piped fresh cream on the top.

So I grabbed 3 of them (2 to make the main cake ’8′ one as extra serves) and a couple of  classic chocolate Pound cakes to make the ’1′:

We used simple Poundcake

We used simple Poundcake

I’m showing the pictures so that you can see what kind of cakes they are, knowing full well how we all have different names for similar cakes worldwide :-)

The beauty of this idea was it only needed to be assembled just before we left so it made for easier storage in the fridge and witht he sweltering and humid weather we’ve had here in Australia this Summer that was quite important!

So when I was ready to assemble the cake I covered a platter with foil. I then sliced about an inch/inch and a half off the bottom of two Bavarian dessert cakes. This allowed them to sit snugly like a figure 8. It’s quite easy to see just by looking how much needs to be removed but the amount will change depending on the size of the cakes.

I then placed them together and covered the join with some melted milk chocolate

I then squared up one end of each of the poundcakes so they sat at a similar height to the number 8.

I coated them in a chocolate ganache style icing made from around 300 grams of dark chocolate (I used a lindt with bitter orange and almond pieces left over from Christmas) and a few buttons of dark cooking chocolate. I broke it into pieces and covered it with pre-boiling cream and let it sit for 5 mins to melt. I then beat it together until smooth and sifted a couple of tablespoons of icing sugar in to help thicken it. I then coated the ’1′ shaped cakes and placed them next to the Bavarian desserts.

I initially was intending to cut the centre of the “8″  circles out but realised quickly with a biscuit/cookie base the cake would lose some integrity so I  made a small amount of melted white chocolate and did my best to form the inside of the 8. I then sprinkled it with coconut to help disguise the lack of precision  ;)

I stuck some ‘Happy birthday” candles in the one so there was no need to pipe or write on the cake at all !

All in all we had an 18th birthday cake that may not of looked professional at all but one that cost less than $25au and served more than 30 people. Also it was guaranteed my son would like the cake as it was made from one of his favourite desserts and I didn’t have to stress over each part of the cake baking and the full decorating.

Served with fresh (and squirty) cream it went down very well.

Very quick 18th birthday cake or dessert

Very quick 18th birthday cake or dessert

I think with a little thought any circular cake or dessert could be used e.g. Black forest gateaux or Cheesecake and also most numbers could be created. Have a look and see what your local supermarket, grocer or bakery keep in stock I’m sure they will have a few appropriate cakes which can be used last minute to make a number cake.

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Book Shaped Cake

By: Deb

This book cake is a very simple cake to decorate and very popular with bookworms.

The 1st book

The book of love cake

You’ll need:

Ready made rectangular cakes

Chocolate fondant icing, enough to cover and overlap the top and the spine.

Small amount of white or cream fondant icing, enough to cover 3 sides of the cake plus 2 inches over.

Edible gold dust
Edible gold paint

Take a sheet cake, or any rectangular cake and cut in to smaller rectangles.

If you wish the cakes to have a filling you could cut these horizontally and fill or just add one on

top of the other, sandwiched together by whichever filling you have chosen.

I had a small amount of ready-made chocolate fondant  leftover but not enough to cover the cakes so I went in search of a recipe and this is the recipe that appealed the most.

Fondant Icing recipe (discovered at

* 2 pounds confectioner’s sugar, sifted (I replaced 1/8th of a pound with cocoa powder)
* 1/4 cup cold water
* 1 tablespoon unflavoured gelatine
* 1/2 cup glucose (found in cake decorating stores) or white corn syrup
* 1 1/2 tablespoons glycerine (found in cake decorating stores)
* 1 teaspoon desired flavouring (vanilla will give the fondant an off-white color)
* Cornstarch

US cup = 8 fl oz


In a large bowl (do not use metal), sift the sugar and make a well in the centre. In a small

saucepan, add the water and sprinkle the gelatine on top to soften for about 5 minutes. Begin to

heat the gelatine and stir until the gelatine is dissolved and clear. Do not boil. Turn off the heat and

add the glucose and glycerine, stirring until well blended. Add the flavoring. Pour into the well of

sugar, and mix until all of the sugar is blended. Use hands to knead icing until it becomes stiff.

Add small amounts of confectioner’s sugar if the mixture is sticky.
Form the mixture into a ball and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Place in an airtight container.

This icing works best if allowed to rest at room temperature for about eight hours before using,

particularly if the weather is humid. Do not refrigerate.

Do not refrigerate a cake with fondant icing.

I used chocolate fondant because I like that “old leather-bound book”  look. You can of course make any colour book but i would suggest making it a strong  color as opposed to pastel shades. This is usually made easier by using coloring gels instead of the liquid. You can also make some different coloured icing to use as bands on the book spine.

When I made these cakes it was a very hot day here in Oz so I made them as quickly and plainly as possiblewith minimum adornment.

When ready roll out the light colored fondant so it is long enough to cover the top-side,front-sideand lower-side of the cake. This will probably need to be done in 2 sections so make sure you will be joining them at the least noticeable point.

Form these edges around the cake making sure it can be folded over the top of the cake a small way and folds down the spine side at least an inch top and bottom.

I then used the hard plastic container the sponge came in to mark pages into each side.

You need to press firmly but beware of cutting all the way through.

Then roll out the chocolate icing in a rectangle larger than the cake. I rolled it out on some greaseproof paper that I had crinkled up. This gives the slightly cracked texture of old leather. It also cuts down the amount of cornstarch needed when rolling if you use a cover of greaseproof paper. if you do have some trouble with sticking use your fingers to gently dust the surface with the cornstarch.

Then place the icing over the cake making sure you have just enough to double back the edge to form the book lips. This also makes it nice and thick and helps it to hold shape. If you start at the spine side it makes it easier to allow an extra amount of fondant to shape more into a rounded spine

Run your finger or thumb from the top of the book to the bottom making a small indent helping to define the spine.

Roll some chocolate fondant into 3 little skinny sausage shapes which you will run along the base of each side to creat the “hidden” side of the book cover.

Then it’s time to decorate at will.

I dusted the pages with gold dust to get that old-fashioned effect.

I then took some scrap-booking  letter stamps and imprinted the title of the book on thje front. Iwould of also done the spine this way if it was not so hot (or if I had some freehand talent ;) )

I then used the imprints as a guide for the gold paint. I did find I had to use a smaller brush than the one that came with the paint but could probably of used an even smaller brush, say eye-liner brush thickness.

I had to  gently manipulate the icing a little more due to the heat, then I added the second cake to the top

Voila! The cake is done.

Some additional suggestions would be to make a big stack of books for more guests. Usingdifferent coloured books or perhaps make them smaller and have them standing upright a labookshelf.

You could even add a bookend at each side.

2 book cakes together

2 book cakes stacked together make a bigger cake for more servings

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Pumpkin Shaped Cake

By: Pfoinkle

Pumpkin shaped cake with buttercream frosting and fondant accents.

Pumpkin shaped cake with buttercream frosting and fondant accents.

Pumpkin shaped cake with buttercream frosting and fondant accents.

I’m primarily a buttercream broad, but when I was designing the Dr. Horrible Party Cakes, I knew I was going to be using a lot of fondant.

I decided a pumpkin-shaped cake would be an excellent place to experiment with shaping fondant — it’s easy enough to make a lovely pumpkin cake with just buttercream frosting, but fondant is a great way to add some pumpkin leaves and curly vine details.

If I had it all to do over again, I would have rolled the fondant quite a bit thinner and I would have added some painted details to the leaves with liquid food coloring (a process I used a lot on the goggles cake).

But for a primarily buttercream broad, I was pretty satisfied with the pumpkin’s fondant accents.

Pumpkin Shaped Cake Supplies

  • Enough batter for three cakes (3 standard box mixes)
  • Buttercream Frosting (enough for approximately 3 cakes)
  • Fondant
  • Wilton’s Gel Food Coloring: Green, Orange, Yellow, Royal Blue (the Yellow and Royal Blue are optional colors)
  • Pumpkin Leaf Pattern
  • Toothpicks
  • Specialty Pans: Bundt Pan
The foundation of the pumpkin shaped cake is the bundt pan.

Using the bundt pan in ways it was not intended.

The foundation of the pumpkin-shaped cake is almost always the bundt pan. The contemporary bundt pan was originally designed for baking “bundkuchen”, a type of German coffee cake. Today the bundt pan is used for baking just about any type of cake — even pumpkin.

For the pumpkin cake, bake two bundt cakes. The size of your bundt pan will determine just how much batter is needed, but for the average pan, one box mix will do. Bake time will be considerably longer than when baking two layers from one box — close to twice as long, but start checking the cake early and make sure not to over-bake.

When I started this cake, I thought two bundt cakes were the answer for the perfect pumpkin shape.

I was wrong.

In order to keep the cake from collapsing, I knew I was going to use this stacking method and when I put the cake together, well… just look at the pics:

Looking for the perfect pumpkin cake shape.

Looking for the perfect pumpkin cake shape.

The first picture is of two bundt cakes stacked on top of each other. I like the curved edges on the top and on the bottom, but the curves in the middle are not making me happy.

So I leveled off what would traditionally be the “bottom” of each bundt cake and put the cake back together — and that’s the second image.

I now had a more traditional pumpkin-shaped cake — a very short, kind of flat, pumpkin-shaped cake.

And this is when the third box mix comes into play. I baked two 9″ layers (the size should match the size of your bundt pan). One would be used for the stem of the pumpkin and one would be the middle layer of the pumpkin cake — and that’s the third picture.

Now that I had a shape I was happy with, it was time for the frosting.

Tip: I use disposable chopsticks as my primary source of “dowels” for stacking cakes — not your good chopsticks, but those cheapo break apart ones that always accompany takeout and splinter your lips.

Smooth buttercream frosting.

Smooth buttercream frosting.

If you squeeze one batch of buttercream frosting, you can frost this entire cake, but if you apply frosting with a pastry bag and frosting tip (which tends to put the frosting on thicker), you might need 1.5 batches.

Before you add the orange coloring, set aside 1/2 cup of frosting (this will be the frosting for the stem).

I colored the frosting with Wilton’s Orange gel coloring, but because I wanted a more natural orange (and not cartoon orange), I added a tiny amount of Royal Blue. This just dulls down the orange and is a completely optional step. Once the cake is frosted, use the paper towel method to smooth the frosting.

Making grooved on side of the pumpkin cake.

Making grooved on side of the pumpkin cake.

Allow the smoothed frosting to “rest” for 10-15 minutes.

Place a paper towel on the frosting and gently drag the back of your finger along the cake to make the grooves of the pumpkin.

Stem made from cupcakes and covered in buttercream.

Stem made from cut out cakes circles.

Using a cookie/fondant cutter, cut circles of cake from the second 9″ layer of cake. Stack those layers (you’ll likely need to use toothpicks to stabilize the stack) and carve to your satisfaction. Make sure you don’t carve the stack so skinny that it will fall through the hole in the center of the top bundt cake.

Get the frosting you set aside earlier and color with Wilton Gel coloring (I used Kelly green). Frost the stem and then place the stem in the center of the cake — use toothpicks to hold the stem in place. Drag the tines of a standard dinner fork through the frosting to make it rough.

Pumpkin shaped cake with all buttercream frosting.

Pumpkin shaped cake with all buttercream frosting.

For you buttercream freaks, your work here is done! If you want some fondant extras, continue reading.

Download the pumpkin leaf pattern PDF

Download the pumpkin leaf pattern PDF

If you’re new to fondant, you can either purchase “rolled fondant” (ready-to-use) or make Pix’s Marshmallow fondant. They’re similar to work with, but Pix’s is reportedly yummy. Most ready-to-use fondant is… an acquired taste.

I say Pix’s is “reportedly yummy” because I’m a fondant weenie and I bought ready-to-use. ;)

Once you have the fondant of your choice, color it green with Wilton’s Gel Coloring (check Pix’s tutorial on Coloring Fondant).

But before you do all that, download this pattern and cut out the leaf patterns.

Cutting fondant leaves.

Cutting fondant leaves.

Use the downloaded leaf patterns to create the green fondant leaves.

Fondant leaves draped over plastic containers.

Fondant leaves draped over plastic containers.

To give the fondant leaves some interest, drape them over small plastic containers or bowls or whatever else you have in the kitchen that seems suitable. I used a mixture of plastic containers and chopsticks. :D

Fondant snakes wrapped around chopsticks.

Fondant snakes wrapped around chopsticks.

For the pumpkin vines, roll out some snakes of fondant. I wanted some variety, so I added some Golden Yellow in varying amounts to little bits of the already green fondant. Once you have the snakes, wrap them around chopsticks, lolly sticks, or the round handle of a wooden spoon. Allow the fondant to dry for approximately 30 minutes.

Vine curls removed from chopsticks and shaped.

Vine curls removed from chopsticks and shaped.

Once the vines have dried (but aren’t completely hardened), slide them off the chopsticks and stretch them out. You can also “bend” them so that they will fall more gracefully along the sides of the pumpkin. Allow the fondant to harden fully. If you try to drape the curls on the pumpkin too soon, the weight of the dangling fondant will stretch out the curls completely and/or cause the curls to break.

Pumpkin shaped cake with buttercream frosting and fondant accents.

Pumpkin shaped cake with buttercream frosting and fondant accents.

Once all of your fondant pieces have dried, attach them to the cake. For the curls, I just stuck one end in the buttercream. For the leaves, I just placed them on the pumpkin and allowed them to rest naturally against the stem and sides of the pumpkin.

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