Sunday, 12 January 2014

Max's 2nd Birthday Party & the Polka Dot Birthday Cake!

Last week my little boy turned 2! I can't believe how quickly the time has passed and how much he has grown. This year's birthday party theme was blue and green (quite frankly I don't know why they should "never be seen" as they look great together, he, he :)

 So... I decided to combine the party planning with my New Year's Resolution of completing a Pinterest project each month (rather than just spending hours each month pinning lots of wonderful projects and never starting them...). I have created a Pinterest board filled with lots of wonderful kids birthday party ideas but my favourite pin would have to be the Polka Dot Cake by Once Upon a Pedestal. The cake looked so amazing I just had to give it a go and the result was well worth the effort :) You can find the original tutorial here but I made a few modifications along the way. For instance, I'm not a huge fan of packet cake mixes so I used the tried and tested Woman's Weekly birthday cake butter cake recipe instead and it is delicious! I also only created a cake with a single layer which was ample for the size of our party.

(Sorry about the very unglamorous picture of the cake, it was cut up and eaten before I knew it!)

Here's the Butter Cake recipe from the Original Woman's Weekly Birthday Cake Book

* 125gm butter
* 1/2 tsp vanilla
* 1/2 cup caster sugar
* 2 eggs
* 1 1/2 cups self raising flour
* 1/3 cup milk

1. Beat butter (room temperature)with vanilla until light and fluffy.
2. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. Stir in half the sifted flour and half the milk. Stir until combined.
4. Add the remaining milk and flour, stir in lightly, then beat until mixture is smooth.
5. Spread into a greased tin/cake pop tins.
6.  Cook in a moderate oven until firm to touch (*Note - the time will vary depending on how many cake balls you use. I found that I needed to cook it for about an hour, but it's best to keep an eye on it. Unfortunately popping a skewer into the cake to see if it comes out clean won't necessarily work as you may be in a cake ball which is already cooked... The beauty of this cake mix is that it is so moist that it is quite hard to over cook it anyway.)

Here were my steps for making the Polka Dot Cake: 

The secret to the polka dots in the middle of the cake is to bake some cake pops!  I was lucky enough to have been giving a Cake Pop set for the my birthday last year but you can pick them up at most department stores.
1. Create the cake batter for the cake balls using the recipe above or a packet butter cake mix.
2. Add a packet of Vanilla pudding mix to the batter along with the flour as specified by the manufacturers of the Cake Pop tins.
3. Split your batter into bowls and colour as desired. I went for green and blue for my cake to fit in with the party colours. The green didn't turn out as nicely as I hoped but they still tasted nice :)

4. Spray the cake pop tins with a flour based baking spray (as specified in the instructions) and spoon in your mixture.  (* Note - I couldn't find any flour based baking spray.  I'm sure it exists here in Australia but it seems hard to come by.  As an alternative I buttered the trays and then sprinkled them with flour.  They did catch slightly but they still came out of the tins okay as long as you were gentle.)
5. Clip on the lid to the tray and bake as directed in the instructions.

When cooked and cooled slightly scrape off any parts of the batter that have overflowed.  (Consider this part of the taste testing quality assurance process...)

When the cake balls have cooled, trim them with a pair of scissors.

Create a double mixture of the above Butter Cake batter (or alternatively mix 2 packets of butter cake batter).  Pour enough of the mixture into a greased and lined tin to create a thin layer across the base.  Don't add too much batter or your cake will well and truly overflow the tin!

Add the cake balls into the batter making sure they don't touch the edge of the tin.

Spoon over some of the remaining mixture over each cake ball until they are covered.  Don't worry if you have some extra cake mix left over.  I used this to create some polka dot cake ball muffins and they turned out beautifully and were the perfect size for the kids!

Bake until the cake is firm to touch.  This is definitely one of the trickier bits as it can be hard to judge how long you need to cook the cake.  Personally I found it took much longer than the butter cake mix would have taken if cooked in the normal method without the cake balls added to the mix.

And here was the final result once it had cooked:

I decorated the cake using a butter cream (coloured pale blue) and covered with Freckles, Smarties and piped butter cream.

By the look on Max's face and the fact that it was devoured within minutes I'd say it was a definite hit!

I'd love to make this again for an adult birthday using mud cake and white chocolate cake, yum :)

So it's official I have completed Pinterest Project #1 for the year, I hope it inspires some of you to have a go at baking a Polka Dot Cake.   I wonder what project number 2 will be?  
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