A birthday is not a birthday without some form of cake. It is just one of those things – an integral part of the celebration, the cue for everyone in the room to start singing Happy Birthday to You each in a different key, and maybe as many candles as the birthday-ee has years if they’re lucky/the cake is giant. So when planning how best to a) welcome the rest of our friends back to the house and university in general and b) celebrate their missed summer birthdays, my housemate and I turned to baking.
Cupcakes seemed the ideal gift – easier to take away (and to scoff all at once) than a whole cake but with more than enough room for experimentation and personal touches for each of the three girls whose birthdays had recently passed. What is so special about 9 months before September I just don’t know, but it makes for a hectic start of term when the vast majority of your friends all turn 21 at once. Just to forewarn you, these ‘recipes’ are more like ideas for combinations and decorations, and a bit of showing off of myself and my housemate’s hard work, rather than methods and ingredients lists – they are all pretty standard cake batters and frostings. If you do want to know any particular recipe though, please just ask in the comments and I’ll post about it 🙂 Otherwise, be inspired – scout through baking blogs, cookbooks and/or recipe sites and create your own birthday treats!
Banana cake with toffee frosting, decorated with silver balls and baked in some cute pink gingham cases my housemate had. These rose really well, despite us never having tried banana cake in cupcake form before! All credit to my housemate for the frosting, which was really REALLY good – in fact I think it deserves its own post with a recipe, so that will be up shortly. If you or your friends are fans of banoffee, as the 21-er to whom these now belong is in a big way, definitely try these – the moist banana cake and deliciously toffee-y icing are a great combo.
Ginger and Chocolate Tribute Cupcakes
Chocolate cake with ginger flavoured buttercream swirled on top, decorated with dark chocolate chips and baked in pretty floral cases. One of my friends has ginger hair and is (rightfully) very proud of that fact #primflick (little bit of an in-joke there for the benefit of anyone who knows said auburn-haired queen of sass), so we went with buttercream flavoured with ground ginger to represent this. She found it funny, and thankfully they also tasted good – what is a better partner for ginger than dark chocolate, after all?
How cute are these??!! I was so pleased with the decoration – our cat-loving friend did actually squeal with delight when we surprised her with them. We were struggling to think of a favourite flavour for her, so after discarding the possibility of a catnip cupcake, we played it safe with vanilla cakes, vanilla buttercream piped flat onto the surface and then cat faces made out of sweets. The eyes are chocolate chips, the noses are pieces of red fruit pastille cut into triangles, the ears are blackcurrant fruit gums cut into halves (they made perfect ear shapes all by themselves), the mouths are strawberry laces cut in two strands halfway along to make the smile, and the whiskers are strands of liquorice wheel. Loads of fun to create, and you could definitely adapt the sweets depending on individual tastes – liquorice isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, for example. A purrfect birthday gift for anyone who loves cats. Yep, I had to say it.
Sources: Various recipe sites, suggestions from friends and a bit of guesswork all contributed. As I said, recipes are easy to find for any/all of the frostings, buttercreams and cake batters featured here, but if you are desperate for the exact recipe we used I will be more than happy to post it for you – just ask in the comments 🙂 Many thanks and high fives to my baking partner in crime, and once again Happy 20th/21st to my three very deserving friends, and to the other millions of September babies – I hope you all get cake for your birthdays.