Well to clarify: I love throwing birthday parties, especially for my children.
Today we had my son’s first birthday party. As with my Daughter’s first Birthday we chose his favourite toy as the theme; everything was based upon his Ewan (a little fluffy purple sheep which plays calming womb sounds and helps him to sleep).
I had so much fun with the planning as I have only ever seen one other Ewan cake, and have never seen a sheep themed party. I decided to stay simple on the colour scheme with white, purple and green.
In planning it was important to take into account the fact we would have many different aged children attending. We needed a space for babies where they could amuse themselves crawling about. As the whole party was about sheep we created them out of balloons by sticking on faces (with googly eyes) and 4 legs with double sided sticky tape.
I then proceeded to make them a pen out of an old cardboard box. This was pretty simple:
- Cut out 8 long slats and 24 short ones out of cardboard
- Stick 2 long slats and 6 short ones together with glue to create each side
- Then jigsaw them together by cutting upward slits on the left hand ends of the horizontal slats and and downward slits on the right hand ends
- Taaadaaa 4 sided pen
The sheep pen baby area was completed with some grass effect stuck on the windows (cut out finger painted paper), a picnic on a bathmat lawn, our very own sheep dog and some of you might recognise our flowers from our bee post.
As it was tea time we didn’t go too overboard on the food. Obviously cake is a necessity and its nice to have a mix of fruit and sweets for young children plus some savoury snacks for the adults. Our menu consisted of: birthday cake, cake pops (I couldn’t resist the idea even though I’ve never tried them before), blueberries (purple), black grapes (purple again), purple smarties, sheep-esque marshmallows, purple potato crisps, sausages (everyone loves sausages), and breadsticks (M’s favourite).
I loved doing the cake pops. They were super easy once you know the tricks. Let me outline the bits you need to watch out for:
- Once you have crumbled your cakes and are adding the buttercream (or other frosting) add the minimum you can and still make it bind into balls. This stops them being too stodgy.
- When you are sticking the sticks in to the balls coat them in your covering (I used white chocolate as I have been advised that this is way easier than candy melts).
- Once you have the sticks in your balls pop them in the freezer for 20 minutes before coating them so that they are nice and solid and the stick is well stuck!
- Don’t rush to stick the accessories on as they will just slide off if the coating isn’t partially set.
- You can use upside down egg cartons to dry your cake pops if you don’t have polystyrene foam. Just make a hole in each egg section with a skewer for your cake pop stick.
I think it was the actual cake which caused me the most bother although I was certainly happiest with the results out of all my creations to this date. It was only because I didn’t like the first recipe I tried and had to scale up my recipe and then try to figure out how much by and how long it would end up needing in the oven. I got there eventually though.
My recipe for a GIANT Victoria Sponge (which fills half a football):
- 460g softened butter
- 460g caster sugar
- 8 beaten eggs (room temperature)
- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence
- 460g self-raising flour
Preheat fan oven to 150°C.
Grease the cake tin.
Mix the butter till it is nice and fluffy and add the sugar.
Beat until the whole mixture is light and then very, very slowly add the eggs.
The mixture will curdle if you add the eggs too quickly or if they are cold. (You can add a tablespoon of flour if it looks like it is starting to split to try and save it).
Add the vanilla once all the egg is incorporated and then fold in the flour.
Bake in oven for 2 hours 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Once it was baked and cooled I cut it in half and filled it with Cherry Jam (more purple) and buttercream and then coated it in buttercream in order to stick on my topping of halved marshmallows. The head and legs were made out of fondant icing (the ears were helped to stay in place with a couple of cocktail sticks).
While preparing this cake I feel like I made a major discovery! I don’t know about you but whenever I apply buttercream I end up with half my cake surface sticking to the frosting on the knife rather than the cake. Ready to destroy my cake in frustration I took a break and thought over the dilemma. Frosting is mainly butter (fat). What repels fat? Water! Aha! I wet the knife and suddenly everything was simples. My cake looked just like one of those example cakes in the Debbie Brown books. Why does noone tell you this?
I love my cake if only for the fact that it felt so easy to decorate for once!
And also because M was absolutely thrilled with it. I don’t think we managed to capture it all in the photos but here is when he first set eyes on it.
E spent the whole evening before bed trying to pick up all the balloons that we had taken down. Try to spot the 2 year old:
Potentially the only let down was my glass marker idea which didn’t really take off but I can understand it was a little fussy. Hope you like my homemade stickers and party bags in the background though.
All in all a very successful party I’d say.
Hope you have enjoyed your weekends too.