I love a good excuse to celebrate. Be it a birthday, an anniversary or a milestone, I believe it needs to be acknowledged and shared, and an appropriate amount of fuss made. And cake, of course. There must be cake.
Being the one whose default setting is to bake, I am proudly the Queen of Cakes in my circle. If there is even the hint of an occasion or celebration, the oven gets preheated and on goes my apron. I have made endless crowd-pleasing chocolate numbers for school cake stalls; the memorable ‘sports ball’ cupcakes for my son’s eighth birthday (arranged in a figure 8, naturally); fruit-studded summer crumble cake to share (and impress) at client meetings; and even extravagant multi-tiered wedding cakes to feed 100 or more as a special celebratory gift for friends’ nuptials.
Oh, and how my cakes have travelled! They’ve sat on my lap, and the laps of my friends, on interstate flights. They have been strapped in for long car trips down country roads (sometimes with a sneaky touch-up required after a few pot holes) or balanced on the back seat for high-stress peak-hour journeys in the sweltering heat.
It’s also important to me to get to the very heart of the occasion through the flavours, textures and appearance of my baking. Each and every one of these cakes is chosen and made with the occasion and people involved in mind.
My daughter’s fifth birthday cake, for example, was a two-layered butter cake dotted with hundreds and thousands, iced with an oh-so-pretty pink buttercream and decorated with homemade white chocolate freckles. It was simple (I was a time-strapped mother of two), pretty, fun and completely loved by the birthday girl. At the time I was writing the food column for a weekly magazine in a newspaper and the cake, which I thought was completely original, was included in a feature published on the day of her birthday. (As it turned out, this type of cake had already been packaged up as a cake mix by the Pillsbury Company in 1989, and was known as ‘Funfetti’ cake.) But it remains one of my all-time favourites and I would love to share the recipe for a slightly more mature version of the confetti cake to celebrate this - the 50th column of Bakeproof with SBS Food (cue the popping of a prosecco cork).
Looking for a richer, more handsome cake for a different kind of occasion? The ombre mocha layer cake may just be the one.
Alternatively, the fresh and subtly tropical mango, coconut and lime meringue ice-cream cake is sunshine on a plate and perfect for a summer lunch celebration.
And if you’re looking for a guest of honour who will swoon over the elderflower gin sponge with mascarpone cream and strawberries, look no further. You just need to make this glorious cake and I will invent an excuse to celebrate on the way over!
Happy baking! And celebrating!
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Sarah O'Brien. Food preparation by Kerrie Ray. Creative concept by Belinda So.
Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. For hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via Facebook,Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
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