When I was eight, my aunt sent me a Betty Crocker children's cookbook for my birthday. It was a wonderful book - full of kids' recipes, tested by kids, with comments and pictures. My favorite section was the cakes one. Such luscious looking cakes! Birthday cakes, halloween cakes, Christmas cakes, all kinds of novelty cakes... But the one that truly captured my imagination was a beautiful castle cake. The picture showed a white cake with pink sugar-encrusted turrets, placed on a shimmering blue foil moat, with pink pillow mint battlements. I longed to make that cake! But... the recipe called for a box of cake mix and a tin of pre-made icing. Big problem for my 8-year old mind! I lived in Africa in the 60's, where cake mixes did not exist. It never occurred to me that I could have made it all from scratch -- I didn't know how much cake a cake mix made in order to make the substitution! Sadly I let my dream go.
Fast forward many years. My first child was born and I realized that I could give in to my hidden artistic urge - I could make him a 3D birthday cake! However, being a boy, he wouldn't want a pink-and-white castle cake. Maybe a stone one with ninjas scaling the walls or something. Still, I thrilled to the idea of being creative in the kitchen and trying my hand at novelty cakes. After all, my audience was small boys - how hard are they to please?!
And so began my journey. Ever year, at birthday time, I tried my hand at making a novelty cake for my boys (another son being added now). Planes, trains, cars...things that please the boyhood mind. I've even branched out from birthday cakes (and 3D novelty cakes) to attempt elegant birthday cakes and special occasion cakes, such as Christmas cakes, engagement cakes, etc. It's been great fun, and having spent time in America (where cake mixes abound), and matured in my baking knowledge, I know that cake and frosting made from scratch works just fine!
I'd like to share my journey with you in hopes that it will inspire and help you as you work on your own novelty cakes. I'm not a professional baker, and certainly not a professional cake decorator, but I have fun, and the boys (and their friends and classmates) love the results!
Oh, and I finally got to make the cake that started it all! A colleague's daughter, who is the same age as my eldest, desperately wanted a castle cake for her birthday so...
It's not the perfection of that first cake (and I wasn't sure how to make pure-white frosting at the time), but it still represents the fulfillment of a childhood dream. Stay tuned for more cake designs and photos, as well as directions on how to bring those cake designs to fruition. Viva la novelty cake!