This time last week Jenson turned 4 years old! Even writing that down seems odd because I still keep saying to people, ‘oh yes but he is only 3’! Well, that is no longer correct , of course, because he is now 4 and one week.
I was having a discussion with some online friends the other night about cakes being either bought or made for you by a cake making professional when it comes to our children’s birthday parties. I am a firm believer in making as much as I can myself because for one thing I enjoy being creative and I like baking, and I think I am good at making cakes. My decoration skills are still not that great, but I am at least practising on a regular basis! However, following my online chat, I do understand why many Mum’s opt to have them either ready made by someone else or will buy the sponges and then decorate them at home. I think we all take shortcuts where we can – I often cheat with my frosting and buy the ready made because it is means I don’t always have to worry when I dont have any icing sugar or butter in the house. I have even bought chocolate sponges and decorated them myself – I think sometimes life is too short to worry and as long as they taste and look great and the recipient is pleased, then no one need know the truth – the whole cake truth!
Another factor to take into account is price. I think that by the time you have bought all the ingredients you need, especially if starting from scratch, plus the gas/electricity it costs to cook a couple of sponges it can add up. From just £7.40 a ready made vanilla sponge cake can be delivered straight to your front door ready to be pimped by your own cake decorating hands. Which is actually not *that* pricey really when you work out how much baking a cake is (from scratch). And of course, if you are not a good cake baker, then having a cake made for you would be very helpful!
I was recently sent a 6 inch and I decided to have a go at making a Rainbow Sprinkle Cake having seen it on pinterest a lot, and knowing how great it would look and appeal to children for a birthday cake. So with this in mind here is how I made one.
- 1 x 6 inch vanilla sponge cake
- strawberry jam
- 1 x pot of ready made vanilla buttercream (I used Betty Crocker)
- 3 x bottles of hundreds and thousands
- Slice your cake into 3 layers
- spread jam over each one
- spread the buttercream around the top and sides of the cake all around
- place in the fridge for about an hour to firm up
- add another thin layer of the buttercream all over the first layer to cover up any cake crumbs which may be on show
- pour the hundreds and thousands onto a large serving dish/plate
- Very carefully roll the cake in them on its side
- turn the cake over on to its bottom and scatter more of the hundreds and thousands onto the top
- when covered very carefully place the cake onto your serving plate/cake stand (I used a fish slice utensil) and place back in thre fridge to firm up again
- remove from the fridge about 30 minutes before serving
This ready made vanilla sponge cake was easy to work with and sliced with less crumbling than I had anticpated, and remained firm as I spread the jam on to the 3 slices I cut from it. The only issue I had was that when I was trying to coat the assembled cake with the buttercream, small bits of cake came away leaving gaps, which meant I had to push bits back in! It did not affect the overall look of the cake that much really, but this is the only minor criticism I have really.
The sponge was really nice actually, not too sweet and the texture was just like a victoria sponge type cake – the type of cake I make 85% of the time anyway which is fine by me! It tasted really good and I would happily eat some more. I will continue to bake my own cakes, but I do recommend the cake on its flavour and texture and it smelt like fresh cake should aswell. It does say on the packaging that the cake should be consumed within 5 days of recieving it, which means it will last a while too once served at your party/social gathering of your choice. I think this is a great idea for those who either dont like to bake , cannot bake or are too busy to do so.
With regards to my attempt at the Rainbow Sprinkle Cake – well I think I have escaped an epic fail BUT it could look a lot better. It is actually much harder to achieve than I had thought it would be, as it looks so impressive (on pinterest sites at least!) , and those hundreds and thousands do go everywhere and anywhere – pesky things!! Check this tutorial out if you want to have a go yourself and produce a much better looking decorated cake than mine!! Still, my boys went ‘wow’ when they saw it so it has the desired effect !
I was sent a cake for the purpose of a review. It was my choice to decorate it in this way. All comments made regarding it are honest and my own.
We’re Going on a bear hunt
We’re going to catch a big one
What a beautiful day!
We’re not scared.
Those opening words to this classic children’s story book are as famous as the book itself, and I think along with The Gruffalo , Eat Peach, Pear, Plum and The Hungry Caterpillar they are very memorable and are easily remembered for years after they are first read. As a parent reading it to my own children these stories will always hold a special place in my heart because not only are they enjoyed by them, but I enjoy reading them as much as they do listening to them.
Now Burton is at school he is keen to read and it is so wonderful watching him pick up a book like We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, a book which we have had since he was a baby, and actually read the pages back to me now! I really love to see him turn each page, read the prose and listen to him enjoy being able to entertain Jenson, Daddy and I with his reading.
The boys and I enjoy using a book as a basis as an outdoors adventure and we have already done a couple of Gruffallo Hunts , and I have been meaning to take them on a bear hunt for a while now. Therefore, with this year being the 25th anniversary of Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury’s classic tale, what better excuse than to take ourselves off on our own bear hunt. During the Easter holidays we visited an ideal location for hunting bears and the boys had a fantastic time exploring the different areas. It is amazing what fun imaginations can spark!
Uh-uh! A river!
A deep cold river.
We can’t go over it
We can’t go under it.
We’ve got to go through it!
Uh-uh! A forest!
A big dark forest.
We can’t go over it.
We can’t go under it.
We’ve got to go through it!
Luckily, or sadly for my boys, we did not find an actual bear as the family does in the book, but we did do lots of swishing and swashing, squelcing and squerching, stumbling and tripping, hoooo-ing and woooo-ing and splashing and sploshing and when we got home we were all very hungry so we decided to have a bear tea party. Burton, Jenson and I had lots of fun making our tea party food:
the boys made some bear shaped bread
we made a bear birthday (anniversary) cake
the boys made their own designs and then I interpreted them as best I could!
green (grass) jelly
bears in a cave cakes
bear babybel cheeses
Snow storm popcorn
(see photos below)
We decorated the table with some special 25th anniversary We’re Going On A Bear Hunt bunting and party head wear and invited a very special guest – big brown bear who behaved impeccably!
After our very busy day it was
Into the bedroom
Under the covers
We will go on a bear hunt again!!!
Why not go on a bear hunt or have a bear tea party yourself?
Did you know that this year We’re Going On A Bear Hunt is 25 years old?
To mark this milestone, Walker Books have released special editions of the story, and the anniversary copies of the story are embellised with gold foil, gold bear logos and a special gold sticker, which makes them a perfect gift for all new and old fans of this timeless classic.
As part of the 25th anniversary celebrations Walker Books and Read for RNIB Day are celebrating 25 years of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt with the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ record attempt for the world’s Largest reading lesson. You can find out more here
I have taken part in the Walker Books We’re Going On A Bear Hunt Picture Book Party bloggers tour and you can see what we all got up to by visiting each of our blogs this week
I was sent this rather lovely We’re Going On A Bear Hunt goody bag for the purpose of this post
Ever since Jenson’s Raa Raa The Noisy Lion Party ended last year, he knew immediately what kind of party he wanted when he turned 3……… a MONKEY party of course!!! This was quite an easy theme to put into place and I went with a brown and yellow colours for the tableware and balloons and kept the food easy to prepare so I would not have to spend too long in the kitchen, and to be fair it was the first party I have made for the boys where I was finished about an hour and a half before the guests were due to arrive!! Yaaaay 🙂
I made two cakes as we had two parties and the main and better cake was the Monkey Cake I made for the first party on Saturday, which again I kept fairly simple a 3 layered chocolate cake with a yellow sponge in the middle of two chocolate ones (in keeping with the yellow and brown colour theme!
- *For the chocolate sponges*
- 200g unsalted butter
- 200g caster sugar
- 150g self raising flour
- 50g cocoa powder
- 4 eggs
- *For the yellow sponge*
- 100g unsalted butter
- 100g caster sugar
- 100g self raising flour
- 1 tube of Dr Oetaker yellow food colouring
- 2 eggs
- *For the buttercream*
- 1 tub of Betty Crocker chocolate buttercream
- 100g full fat cream cheese
- *For the decoration*
- brown ready to roll icing - I used Renshaws teddy bear brown
- 2 mini meringues
- 2 large chocolate buttons
- 1 chocolate brown (writing) icing in a tube
- foam banana sweets
- Grease and line 3 x 8 inch cake tins
- Pre heat the oven to 180oC / 160oC (fan)
- I made the chocolate sponges first and then the yellow coloured one - all same method as follows:
- cream the butter and sugar together until soft and creamy
- add the eggs and a spoonful of flour and beat again for a couple of minutes
- For the chocolate sponges - add the flour and cocoa powder and fold in until combined and then divide the batter between 2 cake tins
- For the yellow sponge - fold in the flour and the yellow food colouring and pour into 1 of the tins
- Place into the oven and cook for 20 - 25 minutes until cooked all the way thorugh
- Once cooked allow to cool and then remove from the tins and place on wire racks
- Make the buttercream by mixing the ready made buttercream with the cream cheese
- Once the sponges are completely cooled, sandwich them together with the buttercream and then cover all of the cake with the buttercream, and smooth over with a palette knife
- I drew a template of a monkey face onto a piece of paper and then cut this out, so that when I rolled out the brown icing I could cut out the monkey face to fit the cake
- Once cut out, drape over the top of the cake as per my photo
- Then stick the meringues on using some of the buttercream and add the chocolate buttons as per my photo. Draw on a smile using the chocolate icing in a tube
- Then cut out two small semi circles for the ears
- Then I stuck some foam banana sweets around the back for decoration.
- Monkey cake - done!
As I mentioned above I tried to make my life – and stress levels – easier by making the party food themed but not over complicated so I didnt spend too long in the kitchen as i do norally. Especially with having 2 cakes to make. I think there was a good mix of healthy choices and typical party food which I always try to offer the children. You can click on the photos below to see what each food item is, if it isn’t obvious enough already!
The second cake I made was exactly the same as the first with the three sponges, 2 chocolate and 1 yellow and again I covered and sandwiched it together with the chocolate buttercream. For the decoration, I made some white and milk chocolate monkeys from a mould I had bought a few months ago (I made extras for the pass the parcel layer prizes), and simply covered the cake in these along with some of the foam banana sweets.
Now I wonder what Jenson will want for his party next year?
Here I share my ideas with you for A Room on the Broom Birthday Party and Cake , showing you some fun party food I created. From sandwitches to witches hats – lots of fun and delicious food for witches of all ages!
Burton is a big fan of Room on the Broom and we read it almost every night.Therefore, it seemed like the perfect idea to hold A Room on the Broom birthday party and cake for his birthday.