Balloon birthday cake recipe
- 185g unsalted butter, softened
- 330g (1 ½ cups) caster sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 75g (½ cup) self raising flour
- 225g (1 ½ cups) plain flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
- 80g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder
- 280mL buttermilk
- 50g unsalted butter
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 600g red ready-to-roll fondant icing*
- icing sugar, for dusting
- 275g white ready-to-roll fondant icing*
- yellow, orange and blue gel or paste colouring (liquid food colouring not compatible with the fondant icing)*
- selection of narrow ribbons
* from your local cake decorating shop
You will need a 22-23cm round cake tin and 22-23cm round cake board or plate for this recipe.
Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease the tin and line with non-stick baking 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 essence and beat until combined. Sift flours, bicarb 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 tin 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 tin 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 icing sugar. Beat until well combined. Add the remaining icing 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 icing 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 icing 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 5mm thick and about 7cm 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 icing sugar and smooth the icing into place. Brush off excess icing 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 50g of white icing then add a small amount of yellow colouring using a toothpick. Knead until the colour is even and roll out to 3mm thick. Cut out two balloons with a small sharp knife (I made a template out of cardboard, about 5cm x 6cm) and arrange on the cake with a piece of ribbon about 15cm long tucked under the balloon. Repeat with the orange and blue, then make one balloon with 25g white icing. Tie the balloon ribbons together with another ribbon.
Shape the remaining white icing (100g) into a long rope, about 70cm. 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 colour 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 (mine is Cupcake Katherine) 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, about $18.
- Of course, choose the colours of the balloons and rope to suit your child’s favourite colours. You could also pipe a letter onto each balloon to spell out your child’s name.
- For a plain vanilla butter cake, prepare the cake as for the Princess cake.
- If you would prefer not to bake, buy a premade sponge or madeira cake from the supermarket and decorate as above.