We recently celebrated my eldest son’s 7th birthday. My kids always plan well in advance what theme they want for their cake and I always do my best to oblige. The truth is, I love making birthday cakes and creating something special for the birthday boy or girl. Usually we make the cake together and then while they are asleep, I go to work cutting and pasting and icing and so on and so on. The next morning is the best when the final creation is unveiled – the look on the little person’s face is always worth the effort. And given that two of these special birthdays are in summer when icing can suffer a serious meltdown, it is often a monumental achievement.
Over the years there have been many themes – dinosaur, train, fairy, princess castle, Dorothy The Dinosaur, Thomas The Tank Engine – to name a few. This year, Mitch decided on Star Wars and the plan was to have a fairly simple vanilla birthday cake decorated with Star Wars figurines.
I was thinking this would be relatively easy compared to previous years until suitable Star Wars figurines couldn’t be found anywhere (not unless I wanted to take out a second mortgage just to decorate a birthday cake). Luckily a fast Plan B came into action while strolling around the supermarket – an Ice Age 3 vanilla birthday cake! We’d seen the movie over the holidays (Mitch actually saw it twice and loved it) so there were plenty of Ice Age 3 figurines available at a respectable price. These coupled with some special sprinkles for the cake that included miniature dinosaurs were perfect.
Once home, Mitch was easily sold on Plan B once he saw the figurines and was assured he could have first pick for two to keep after the cake was finished.
Now, to the cake recipe itself. In the past I have always made a vanilla butter cake that followed the complete process of creaming, adding eggs etc etc. However, this year an easy version was given to me. This vanilla birthday cake only requires one bowl and is delicious. It was also lighter in texture to previous cakes I had made. The quantities below are for a large rectangle pan – the base measurement of mine is 31cm x 20.5cm.
Vanilla Birthday Cake
3 cups self raising flour
1 cup plain flour
2 cups caster sugar
300g butter, cubed
1 ¼ cups buttermilk
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 140C. Grease large rectangle cake pan (approx 31cm x 21cm) with butter. Line the base and sides with baking paper.
Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds or until just combined. Increase speed to high and beat for 1-2 minutes ensuring that all the butter is incorporated. The mixture should be smooth and thick. Spoon into prepared pan and smooth surface with back of a spoon.
Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and rest for 10 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool.
The Klutzy Cook Notes
- Ensure the butter is soft enough to beat.
- Bring eggs to room temperature before using.
- Regular milk can be used if buttermilk is not available.
- It would be possible to split this mixture between 2 smaller cake pans (any shape should be fine) – the cooking time will need to be adjusted though.
The icing was simple butter icing with a splash of vanilla extract added. No colouring was used. On top, the figurines were added and then the sprinkles. Mitch decided to add the ‘parsley trees’ for a finished look. Here is the finished product from a couple of different angles.
The verdict – Birthday Boy was delighted with his cake (as the toothy smile proves) and everyone loved the taste.
What’s the next theme for your birthday cake?