Wednesday, 1 October 2014


I remember a surprise party that was thrown for my mum's 50th (about 10 years ago). It was at my aunty's house, but I can't remember if my mother guessed the plan for it or not. I remember her at least looking surprised as we walked through my aunt's house, and into her backyard to see it full of family and friends, with one of those foil "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" signs along the fence, and a few balloons tied to the washing line and trees... Saying that, my dad was pretty good at looking surprised when he was given more socks and undies for Christmas each year.

Thinking about it now, it was clearly a party thrown before Pinterest devoured attention spans and before the internet flooded our minds with amazing party decorations, themed set-ups, and cakes that weren't fruit flans, pavlova, or made of ice cream.

But it was a party, and there was cake (at least I think/hope there was cake)!

A few weeks ago, my neighbour was busy organising a surprise party for her mum's 50th! Plans were falling into place, and items were being checked off the to-do list. It was three days before the party, though, when she realised that she hadn't ordered the cake!!

In a panic, she came to me asking if I was back from my break from baking (which she referred to as a "strike"). I said that I was, and that I was happy to help! With a huge sigh of relief, she asked for a "50" cake, decorated in a similar way to the way I decorated this rainbow cake earlier in the year.

So not only was I thrilled to be able to help out a friend in her desperate need to have a cake in time for her mum's party, I could finally re-attempt this style of cake and practice my technique! Brilliant :)

It was a cake that I did not stress about. At all! It was so strange - obviously time away from baking allowed me to regain a sense of calm again. I did my planning, bought my ingredients, and began to make the cake.

First, it needed to be baked. A big "5", and a big "0". I had purchased a big cake board for the cakes to go onto, but will admit that I spent more time staring at the board wondering how I was going to transfer two cakes onto it, than I actually doing something with it...

The cake shop lady suggested that I covered both cakes while they were on the board, but I'm not very good at listening to advice when I already have an idea in mind. Instead, I covered what I thought to be the trickiest cake to cover (the "5") on the board, and then transferred an uncovered "0" onto the board, and covered it on the board.

The "0" was so much harder, by the way! As you might be able to see, I covered the 5 in sections, because thankfully, the style of cake allowed for mistakes in the fondant to be covered with royal icing, and I purposefully attended to those parts first.

With Husband's help guiding the cake, I basically slid it off the baking paper that it was on (with a chopping board or something similarly firm underneath, onto where it needed to be on the big cake board.

Now you're then going to have to imagine that I'm not a forgetful person, and that I did actually take photos of the un-iced 5 and 0 together, along with each colour of royal icing.

Suddenly and accidentally, here's what it looked like:

As I didn't cover the board in glad wrap (I even thought of foil at one stage), I took a few minutes after each colour to wipe away the excess icing that dropped onto the board (a chopstick came in handy for the hard-to-reach places!)... I also allowed the royal icing to 'set' a bit before adding the next colour, so that the colours didn't mix into one another - something that I'd learned from the previous rainbow cake, and that made a huge difference having a chance to try it again.

After adding each colour at a time, and cleaning up after myself as I went, the cake was looking pretty colourful! Once I was happy with the amount of icing, I added the remaining touches, which were birthday wishes (in rainbow colours, of course), stars (in matching colours), and ribbons around the base of each number, which were colours chosen by my neighbour.

Happy birthday Janet!!
I hope your daughter surprised you successfully :)

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