Balloon Birthday Cake
10 – 12
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 2/3 cup self-rising flour
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter
- 2 cups confectioners sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 24 ounces red ready-to-roll fondant icing*
- confectioners sugar, for dusting
- 8 ounces white ready-to-roll fondant icing*
- yellow, orange and blue gel or paste coloring (liquid food coloring not compatible with the fondant icing)*
- selection of narrow ribbons
* from your local cake decorating shop
You will need a 9-inch round cake tin and 9 inch round cake board or plate for this recipe.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the pan and line with parchment paper. In an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for about a minute between each addition. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined. Sift flours, baking soda and cocoa into a large bowl. Add half the flour mixture and half the buttermilk to the butter mixture, beat on low speed until combined. Repeat with remaining flour and buttermilk and beat until well combined.
Spoon into pan and bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool in pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire cake rack to cool completely.
Cream butter until pale and smooth. Add the milk and half the sifted confectioners sugar. Beat until well combined. Add the remaining confectioners sugar and beat until mixture is light and fluffy. The mixture should be a spreadable paste; if it is too dry add some more milk, if too wet add more confectioners sugar.
Trim the top of the cake so it is level; turn the cake upside down onto the cake board or plate (the bottom is always a flatter, even surface). Spread a thin layer of butter icing over the top and side of the cake using a butter knife or groovy offset spatula from the cake decorating shop.
Chop the red icing into small pieces and knead on a surface lightly dusted with confectioners sugar until is softens slightly. Enough icing so it won’t stick to the bench, but not too much or you will have white spots on your beautiful red icing. Roll out the icing to 1/2 cm thick and about 2 inches larger than the diameter of the cake. This is the tricky bit – carefully roll the icing onto the rolling pin and roll out over the cake (see Notes). Dust your fingers lightly with confectioners sugar and smooth the icing into place. Brush off excess confectioners sugar. If the icing breaks, you have rolled it too thin, carefully smooth the join and use some judicious balloon and ribbon placement to cover the worst!
Trim off the excess, wrap in plastic film and reserve.
For the yellow balloons, knead 2 ounces of white icing then add a small amount of yellow coloring using a toothpick. Knead until the color is even and roll out to 1/2 cm thick. Cut out two balloons with a small sharp knife and arrange on the cake with a piece of ribbon about 6 inches long tucked under the balloon. Repeat with the orange and blue, and then make one balloon with 1ounce white icing. Tie the balloon ribbons together with another ribbon.
Shape the remaining white icing into a long rope, about 28 inch Repeat with the reserved red icing. Carefully twist the ropes together and press on to the base of the cake.
- Preparation time: 20 minutes, baking time: 1 hour 15 minutes, decorating time: 45 minutes (allow longer if you haven’t used fondant icing before).
- It is better to buy red fondant icing, as it is very difficult to get such a rich even color yourself. However, red icing is a little unforgiving if you make a mistake. If you are a beginner fondant icer, I would use a white fondant base. I put some plastic wrap on top of the fondant icing and then roll onto the rolling pin so it doesn’t stick to itself (very annoying when you come to unroll!).
- If you have a friend with fondant smoothers, borrow these as they give a lovely smooth surface and avoid white icing specks on the finished product. Or buy your own from a cake decorating shop.
- Of course, choose the colors of the balloons and rope to suit your child’s favorite colors. You could also pipe a letter onto each balloon to spell out your child’s name.