7 tips for a stress free kids birthday cake with fondant icing. How to keep your cool while also creating a stunning cake for your little ones birthday.
A few weeks ago for JP’s third birthday, Dave and I made a three tier digger cake. I’ve written previously on icing a cake with fondant icing giving a step by step process. Be sure to read this if you haven’t worked with fondant icing before. This time I wanted to share 7 tips for a stress free kids birthday cake. We haven’t always managed to keep things stress free! Fondant icing is the icing that you can roll out and can be bought in a vast number of colours. We have used it to make these cakes
(The links in this post are affiliate links which means if you click through and buy the book I may receive 4% of the sale price from Amazon. Thank you for supporting Holly Cooks.)
7 tips for a stress free kids birthday cake with fondant icing
1. Make the cakes in advance
The cakes need to be completely cool before you start icing. We have used both fruit and sponge cakes in the past. This time it was a chocolate sponge. With sponge cakes I always make the cakes two days in advance of icing. So if anything goes wrong with the cake baking, I have (in theory!) a spare day when I can make more. Once they are cool from the oven I double wrap them in cling film and they are perfect for icing two days later. You could also make them a month ahead and then freeze them. With a fruit cake, which will keep much better for longer, I would be tempted to make it the week before and then just store it in a tin until needed.
2. Don’t start at 9pm at night!
This is tricky. You probably don’t want to make the cake with your little one around. But by the time you have fed and bathed them and then fed yourself, you are possibly starting later than is ideal in the evening. If this is the case be clear about what’s achievable in the time you have. With this cake Dave covered it in the green and grey icing one night and then added the diggers, rocks and chunks out of the cake on the following night.
3. Have a plan and buy cake toppers online
I like to have a clear picture of what the finished cake is going to look like. We are normally copying something we have seen online which we have made a few adaptations too. We have learnt that simple is best – a few different colours with a straightforward design means we are more likely to end up with something we are pleased with. We used these mini diggers (<-affiliate link) to finish the decoration. (JP and GP both love them and have played with them so much since the party.) Whatever your plan, I’d be pretty confident you can find something online to help you give the cake a polished look, even if it is a plastic polished look.
4. Buy more icing than you think you’ll possibly need, keep it 4mm thick minimum and be flexible!
Be kind to yourself and always do this. We never manage this one. We only had 500g of the green icing. We measured the different cakes and realised it needed a piece 60cms long. This meant the icing was just too thin and so when we placed it on the cake it just ripped. As it ripped it got covered in the jam that was on the cake to act as glue and basically became unusable. After some swearing, a promise that next year we wouldn’t make the cake ourselves (as if!) and a cup of tea and a biscuit, Dave came up with the idea of a big grey boulder to go where the green should have been. We were back in the game. But if we were doing this again I would get 1kg of green icing and ensure it didn’t get thinner than 4mm. Dave would have been able to cover each of the three cakes separately and then put them on top of each other. There would then have been no ripping and no grey boulder and less swearing.
5. Have two pairs of hands available
When something goes wrong – like you realise you don’t have enough green icing and so have to cover three cakes in one – having a second pair of hands available is really useful.
6. Don’t have an audience for icing the cake!
One year we had been on holiday and ended up icing the cake the night before the party. We had family round and so after supper we all watched as Dave iced. Everyone had a view on the best way to ice the cake. I’m sure some would have loved the audience but Dave is not a performer. For him this just added a load of unnecessary stress. A quiet kitchen with a cup of tea suits him much better!
7. Remember who this cake is for
Unless Paul Hollywood is on the invitation list, remember that your little one would probably be as happy with either of the cakes below. The first cost £5 and 15 – the second cost a lot more than £5 just for the ingredients, let alone the time and stress involved in making it.
I’m not saying that to dissuade you from making a cake, far from it. Just if it feels like at 11pm the night before the party you have taken on too much (we have definitely been there) remember this is just a cake. (And there is probably a shop near you that sells something that would work if all else fails.)
So hopefully I haven’t put you off with those tips, you’re raring to go and can’t wait to see your finished cake!
P.S. Lastly, just because I think this is the coolest cake I’ve seen, I wanted to share a picture of it with you. Imagine the skill, time and patience involved in making it.