Bake me a {Birthday} cake

Friends, tomorrow it’s THAT time of the year again. A big day on the baking calendar. No, it’s not the Annual show. But it’s a day I turn to a special book in my life. My favourite of ALL the cooking books. The bible.


APPARENTLY Harper is no longer a baby?!

Harp 4

I can’t figure it out either. But she insists that she is, in fact turning 6?! It won’t do so I just keep nodding and smiling and pretending that she must have it wrong and she’s actually 2. Yes, two. TWO OK?!!!

Australians have a love affair with this dodgy old book. Mum still has her original at home with ripped out pages and others stuck together with icing. Rob had plenty from it too – this morning we went through it like 5 year olds showing each other what we had. Someone showed me this clip today that was hilarious!

I have a long and checkered history with this book. Shall we take a walk down memory lane for shits and giggles? I thought you’d never ask! Here’s the first 5 years for both girls…yes some years there were 2 cakes for Daisy. Rob challenged me to a bake off during those years (when we had more time than sense that we thankfully pissed off when Harper came along).

Daisy's 1st b'day party 027 Cake Party 5 Shark 2 C16 Beth cake 1 Rob cake 1 B4 P4 P10-1024x682 Party 6 IMG_3906

Links to all of these posts are here:

Daisy’s 1st Ladybug cake
Harper’s 1st Number 1 cake
Daisy’s 2nd Humpty cake versus Shark Cake
Harper’s 2nd Rainbow cake
Daisy’s 3rd infinity edge pool (THANKS ROB) versus my Princess castle
Harper’s 3rd Tiger cake
Daisy’s 4th Pig Cake
Harper’s 4th Peppa Pig Cake
Daisy’s 5th love heart cake
Harper’s 5th Gymnastics cake
Daisy’s 6th Pussy cat cake

I think you’ll find the theme here is DODGY. Sure, home made with love, but an overall sense of DODGY. Just the way we tackle parenting really. Rob and I take turns making each girls cake – this year he did Daisy so I am on Harper’s. I love looking back at these cakes. The joy those little faces gave when they saw the finished product. The late nights, stained finger tips and always left over liquorice buckles. The icing that wouldn’t set, or that stuck, the transporting the cakes to parks, or halls, carried out into a hot February day or glorious October morning. I am SO excited that I get to start all over again with Maggie. I wonder what her choices will be?

Tomorrow I’ve been asked to create this. Gulp.


It’s totally do-able. That’s if I don’t knock off the block of Milky Bars that I got for those piano keys. And yes, more bloody liquorice belts.

Did you LOVE this book when you were a kid?
What was your favourite EVER?
Do you make dodgy cakes for your kids too?


  1. Big favourite in our house too! I keep meaning to buy a new copy for my sister because like many things, I stole the original from Mum. Lots of familiar cakes in that line-up and I think they all look pretty awesome. I actually think as a kid there is more fun in choosing than in actually eating.

    From memory, the piano cake was one of the first ones I made myself aged about 10 or 12. Talk about dodgy. I think Mum was just relieved she’d been absolved of the responsibility.

    I have to admit, I do love doing their cakes now – and with my eldest being on Christmas Day – there are usually 2 cakes – and the Christmas Day cake is definitely the dodgier as its usually made well into the festivities. Last year he decided a black forest cake was in order – which in a 6 year olds world – was a chocolate brownie, cherries and some cream and shaved chocolate on top. Must have been good because he’s asked for that again – and yet no mention of the 3 layer super hero cake!

    Have fun decorating and enjoy eating the broken bits of milky bars – it’s the leftover bits that make it all worthwhile. I also find a few glasses of wine for creativity helps!

  2. Carolyn Heywood says

    I bought a copy of this book on the weekend to give to my old brother who became a dad this year … After he asked for Phoodie’s construction cake for his 40th I thought it appropriate!

  3. I loved this book as a kid! I always wanted the houses or the car with all the lollies, pretty sure I never got them though ( I understand now, mum ?). I have this book out at the moment, preparing for my baby also turning 6 tomorrow , thankfully he just wanted a number 6 ?

  4. I am too old (sigh) to have had this book as a kid, but my mum always made us (my sister and I) a Dolly Varden cake for our birthdays. The skirt was a kuglehopf and the doll was kept in the cupboard each year and brought out for the special birthday cake. She usually had a bit of the previous year’s icing still stuck to her skirt top (which covered the hole between her waist and the skirt of the cake) which I would secretly suck off (ewwww). I LOVED those cakes. Unfortunately nature decided that I would be the mother of 3 boys, so I never got to make one for my own daughter, but I certainly cranked out a few castles, soccer fields and trains from the Women’s Weekly book…. Enjoy the late night, the aching back and the joy when they see the finished product!!!

  5. Oh I remember having the piano cake! Think it was the year that my mother decided it would be a good idea that I learned to play the piano- epic fail there! Cake was awesome though.
    I have made numerous cakes from the Birthday Cake Book over the years though I have cheated the last couple of years and made icecream cakes. Just soften the icecream, bung it in a heart shaped tin, re freeze and serve with chocolate sauce and sprinkles. Massive hit with the kids and SO much easier.
    Good luck with your cake decorating I am sure it will look fantastic.

  6. oh the memories after making many a cake from it for 3 “kids” now 35,33 & 32. One of the highlights was the truck modified to be a garbage truck for then 5 year old who desperately wanted to be a garbage man – he is now a medical specialist. My personal favourite was the piano – good luck with it Beth, whatever you think of it Harper will love it & remember it forever !

  7. Yes! I have the very same book, passed down to me from my mum. The girls love poring over it to choose their cake, and I too love looking back at the ones I had. People like us will be deeply concerned by the discontinuation of spearmint leaves etc!

  8. Absolutely best book ever written. My friend has her mothers original copy with photos of the birthday person with their corresponding cake stuck in to the pages. Her and her siblings, and now her kids. So lovely. I’m going to have get it for my baby nephew for Christmas.
    You can not go past a dolly varden though!
    I love that Josh Earl clip. Cracks me up every time.

  9. What a lovely post! So many memories & yes that kids cookbook is iconic. I am now the mum of two lovely daughters who delight in flicking through & choosing their next birthday cake from this book. I think your cakes look wonderful & your girls will have such lovely memories of their birthdays & cakes xxx ps. Such a beautiful post yesterday about Maggie & the delight & comfort she brings. Your blog posts also bring that delight, comfort, laughter or tears to your readers. Thank you! Amy

  10. Love it as a KID?! I still freaking love this book. I’m glad you saw the Josh Earls tribute – I’ve seen him do that live and nearly died laughing. I’ve made SO MANY of the cakes in this book – but I have to say I prefer to use my good old raspberry yoghurt cake base – much nicer! My gush about the book is here (and the raspberry cake recipe)

  11. Sandra Jennings says

    I love love love making my boys cakes! And there is ALWAYS liquorice left over ha!
    Me and the husband usually pig out on the leftover icing at some ridiculous hour! Would do it all again in a heart beat!
    Happy Birthday to your big 6 year old girl tomorrow x

  12. There is something so special about this book! Your cakes have been brilliant Beth, gorgeous pics! I can relate to the late pre birthday nights and frustrations of trying to get the cake to look something like the picture! One year I particularly remember being incredibly sleep deprived and trying to bake and decorate a Mickey Mouse cake, well that was not my finest hour! Seeing the expression on my son face was the best part. My youngest son Corbin turns 26 tomorrow and Chocolate guiness cake has been requested. So Happy Birthday to your beautiful daughter Harper! Have a wonderful day Beth x

  13. We are MAD WW birthday cake book fans, I’ve attempted quite a few! I got a copy of the vintage edition to go with the new one, you can’t be the old one! Best one I’ve made is the merry-go-round, I even painted the horses, put ribbons on them, use ribbons on the poles and used tweezers to put the cachous in the right place! Good luck – you’ll smash it!

  14. My 89 year old grandmother that is in hospital recovering from a broken femur made me that exact piano cake!! Probably around 28 years ago now! Of all the cakes this and the Dolly Varden she made were my favorites, something I will never forget. Hope Harper enjoys itxx

  15. Madonna Dunn says

    How much love for the humble WW Cake book? So much. Happiest of birthday’s to your little Miss 6. I’m currently struggling with my baby turning 7 next week. Lara was our “surprise” baby in more ways than one. (CP, other foibles, story for another day). This weekend we celebrate with a bazillionty family and friends, as we always do and I think i’m going to have pull out the WWCB to go through my options again. Thanks for the reminder.

  16. Janelle Spear says

    You and Rob do a great job at making cakes. I love to bake cakes for my boys bday’s too. I love it so much that I now make cakes for friends when they require them. I never get to make girly ones too often though. This year I made a Nike shoe and a skateboard. I have now upgraded to the WW decorating cakes book. If you want to check some of mine its on Mumma J’s Cakes facebook page. Good luck with the baking. 🙂

  17. The lady bird and tiger cakes are quite amazing!! My mum made the piano for me for my 11th birthday and my favourite colour was purple at the time so I asked for it to be purple. And of course she delivered 🙂 Can’t wait to see the pics!

  18. I shall never let my little girl see these photos.. A chocolate slab cake with child’s name written clumsily with one of those icing tubes is about my limit.

    I’m giggling though at the patient little face in the background of the swimming pool cake photo. Classic!

  19. We never had that book in the mother country when I was growing up so I have a weird sense of backdated FOMO! I love that song and the book. Maybe one day I’ll get a cake out of the book on my birthday… a girl can dream, can’t she?! PS How delicious is Milky Bar? If you bake the cake, you have to taste the cake, right?

  20. Best of luck with the cake making. My Mum made that cake for my 4th birthday many years ago. I was trying to include a copy in this comment but I can’t get the technology to work.. The photo shows me proud as punch as I go to cut the cake.. The cake was perfect in my eyes even if it doesn’t quite match the cookbook photo (it’s pretty close).

  21. Haha I love this post – memory lane! I recognised all of them! I used to pore through Mum’s copy all year round just fantasising!
    I was always confused by the duck with the potato chip beak, personally!
    I made the Little Mister a car shaped cake two years ago. He LOVED it but I almost died making it. It was certainly dodgy! I wish my hubby would take turns with me!!!

  22. Omg how funny was that song! Just tried to explain it to my hubby but he was born in Europe so it’s never going to make sense to him. My brother and I have had sooooo many cakes from this book. It’s just a classic staple of your upbringing isn’t it?! I loved the pool with the jelly and the choc biscuits around it. My brother had his fair share of football fields with died green coconut for the pitch. Ah good times! Thanks for memories Beth!!

  23. You guys are brill! Can’t wait to see the piano cake. My bestie’s mum had this book (my mum couldn’t bake to save herself) and I use to live sleepovers at here house to flick through this book. Best bit is her mum still makes the cakes for the grand kids (and I still get invited to the parties when I’m in town).

  24. Sixth birthday . . . . . Log Cabin cake made with FLAKES !!!!!

    Coming from a poor family – this was better than a bag of oranges for Christmas in 1946.
    Beyond excited!

  25. Love it!
    It was one of my fondest memories, that my mum would make us any cake from this book. My fave was the caterpillar cake ( I think she used icecream scoops and covered them in chocolate with that all too familiar green coconut?)- bliss.
    I really should’ve stuck with this book, my kiddos are requesting all sorts of obscurities like lego ironman, a particular scene from transformers 3, the merry go round from Mary Poppins that Jane and Michael ride, mater the tow truck, I mean seriously there has to be a limit! But I can’t say no, and they begin planning their next cake even before they’ve had this years!
    I do love it, though. But really should’ve done like you guys and stuck with the good old ww!

  26. happy birthday to harper! … what a big girl she is being 6!
    she seemed to grow up overnight! … when the mags came!
    then she was big sister! … lovely! … tried and tested cakes! … I know too!
    my sister’s birthday is tomorrow! my daughter’s was last week and my father turns 90 on sunday! … he has organized his party for sat night! <3 it!
    enjoy the celebration! love m:)X

  27. Loved it, & still have it & my daughter used to use it as her “reading book”. Have pretty much made every cake in it, including the dreaded pirate ship which took forever. I was very time poor this year for my daughter’s 13th birthday & ordered choc/mint cupcakes from a la-de-da local cake shop. Paid $81 for 17 cupcakes!! They were OK, but I kept thinking how I could have made them for a 10th of the price. I think my cake making days are over though. Good luck with the piano.

  28. Ah sigh I definitely make dodgy cakes for my kids! Sorry kidlets I am not a talented baker. Love doing it though!

  29. Love this post and your birthday cakes Beth!
    I made my daughter a sweet shop from the Women’s Weekly book when she was 9.
    I have a great photo of the cardboard verandah on fire!!! and Nicole and her friends squealing with terror and then laughter. It was a disaster but a funny one which has given us a great memory.
    Enjoy your girls and making memories. Time flies when you’re having fun!!

  30. I had a ‘bring a book’ baby shower & my dear grandmother bought me this cook book, I was thrilled to have my own copy to cook birthday cakes from for my gorgeous child & have it filled with ‘such & suchs whatever birthday’ (ie Henry’s 3rd bday cake) just like my mums is. This yr was the first year Henry was right into picking his cake so we sat & perused until he made his choice, so special. Then he picked the Mickey Mouse. Heart sank. Are you kidding me?? How do I do that! But I gave it a crack & it turned out pretty awesome. Relief. Until next year…


  1. […] Girls loved it, and it’s another notch in my home made baked birthday cake repertoire. […]

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