Our Big Boy’s Construction Party

After all the planning and preparation it’s all over for another year. Yesterday our big boy, our rainbow baby turned 2 and we held his birthday party.  To me, a birthday party should be all about having fun……. and the food!

Since I am keeping things ‘simple‘ this year, we decided (I say ‘we’ but really mean me!) to keep things small and just invite his little friends that he sees regularly.  In theory this is fine, but when you then add parents and siblings it can turn into a much larger gathering quite quickly!  Regardless, we had a great day with wonderful friends and great food (well at least I’m hoping everyone liked the food!).

Liam Party 3

 

I may sound surprising, but I like catering for parties/friends and I enjoy sitting down planning menus and working out when everything needs to be done – shocking I know!  This year I was determined I would be organised and keep things simple so I could enjoy the day and not end up stuck in the kitchen.

I attempted to complete the grocery shopping earlier in the week, but when both the boys decided to fill their nappies in the middle of Woolworths (and neither was in a good mood about it), we had to cut our shopping trip short.  I then spent the day before the party, baking Blueberry, Carob and Coconut muffins, Corn, Cheese, Spinach & Tomato muffins, Sausage Rolls and I got started on the birthday cake (I will post these recipes later this week).

Last year I went all out with a two tiered fondant covered jungle cake – however trying to work with icing in the middle of summer is NOT a good idea and I decided to save myself some heartache (as well as $$$ from not running the air conditioner full time to keep the cake cool) and decided to make a good old butter cake.  To jazz things up a little, I made a chocolate swirl butter cake by making one plain butter cake mix and one chocolate butter cake mix (just add 2 tablespoons of cocoa and 2 tablespoons of milk to my recipe) and combined the two together in two separate cake tins.

The hours of my life that I lost to Pintrest paid off. As our big boy is a obsessed fan of trucks, I just had to make him a cake with a truck on it.  To make a construction cake, I cut the two butter cakes in half, and sandwiched then together with chocolate buttercream (just add 3 tablespoons of cocoa and 3 tablespoons of milk to buttercream recipe).

I then (with just a little bit of trepidation) used a knife to cut away a chunk of cake to create the ‘falling rocks’ effect.  I used the remaining buttercream to cover the rest of the cake, and then created the rockfall effect using crushed chocolate ripple biscuits as dirt, and Violet Crumble as the rocks.

Liam Cake

 

I decorated the base of the cake with yellow smarties, and added a toy truck and some construction signs to the top of the cake.

Liam Cake 2

 

Our big boy LOVED his cake (especially the truck on top) and was super keen to try some

Liam Cake 1

 

Again thanks to Pintrest, I got some great ideas for table decorations. I found the two truck I used at K-Mart for $10 each which I thought was pretty reasonable, especially as they already have been given a good workout being driven around our yard.

Liam Party

 

I also made little cars using tiny teddies, smarties and some melted dark chocolate.  These were a big hit with the kids, and while they were a bit time consuming, I made them the day before and just popped them into the fridge.  I found using a toothpick to apply the chocolate to the teddies and smarties to be the easiest way to go.

Liam Party1

 

I may have gotten a little too carried away with the catering, we also had sandwiches, cheese and dip platters, pizza slices and fruit salad boxes…. not to mention chicken nibbles and mini sausages that I forgot to put out!!

All the preparation paid off, I was actually able to sit down and watch our big boy playing happily with his friends and the feelings of happiness and just a little pride were overwhelming.  I think he sensed that it was a special day, he was particularly affectionate towards all of us, and was in a great mood all day.  I admit I’m a little sad it’s over, as it means my big boy is growing up, but I also can’t wait to celebrate many more special birthdays with him.

How do you celebrate birthdays?

Linking up today with The Multitasking Mummy for Mummy Mondays

Chocolate Goodness – Choc Chip Butter Cake

Continuing my journey through Donna Hay’s Simply Essentials Chocolate book, I decided to make this butter cake – with choc chips of course!  After I had made a different version of butter cake over the weekend, I was keen to try another recipe.

This cake is incredibly moist and has a great vanilla/buttery flavour.  I didn’t have any sour cream, and substituted with natural yoghurt which worked well.  I also used a whole bag of cadbury dark chocolate chips instead of chopped dark chocolate.  I love dark chocolate and thought it complemented the cake brilliantly, but others said they would have preferred milk chocolate.  After having a big weekend, I’m back on the straight and narrow and have eaten well today. However the temptation of warm cake was too much and I gave in and ate a whole piece…  it was worth it though!  I will now be setting the alarm early to go for a walk in the morning!

 

185g butter softened

1 1/4 cups caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 eggs

3/4 cup sour cream

2 1/3 cups plain flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 cup chopped dark chocolate

 

  • Preheat oven to 160 degrees
  • Place butter, sugar and vanilla in bowl of mixer and beat for 8-10 minutes or until light and creamy
  • Add the eggs and sour cream and beat well
  • Fold through the flour, baking powder and chocolate
  • Spoon the mixture into a 20 x 30cm slab tine lined with non stick baking paper
  • Bake for 40 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer
Yum!

Yum!

Baby Celebration Cake

Since my babies like to arrive earlier than expected, I’ve never had a baby shower.  I jinxed myself during my last pregnancy by having a morning tea to celebrate 31 weeks (the longest I have ever been pregnant!) – I was then admitted to hospital 5 days later and Aiden arrived a few days after that!

When my sister said she didn’t want a baby shower, I was a little disappointed, but respected her decision.  I did still want to do something special for her.  She has been amazing over the past couple of years, dropping everything to fly up and help us out when I’ve been pregnant/in hospital, and I was looking forward to having an opportunity to repay some of the massive debt we owe her.  It’s quite likely her little bub will be arriving a few weeks earlier than expected, so we took the opportunity to arrange a surprise family lunch for her this weekend.

As with any kind of celebration, it’s not complete without a cake and I was keen to try something new.  I’ve always thought rainbow cakes look impressive, and to go with the baby theme I thought pink and blue layers (she hasn’t found out what she is having – much to my frustration!) would look good.

Baby Shower Celebration Cake

I was really happy with how the cake turned out. I was a little worried about how I was going to put it together, but it was surprisingly easy.  I kept the decorations simple and just used smarties (only needed 2 bags to get enough pink and blue ones), but you could jazz this up as much as you want.

Loving the layers

Loving the layers

baby shower cake 4 copy

Butter Cake – The below recipe makes one cake.  You will need two of these for a four layered cake as pictured- recipe is from Donna Hay Modern Classics 2.

125g butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup cater sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups plain flour – sifted

1/2 teaspoon baking powder – sifted

1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda – sifted

1/2 cup milk

Pink and Blue food dye

  • Preheat over to 150 degrees
  • Place all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on low speed until combined
  • Add a few drops of food dye until you have desired colour
  • Increase the speed to high and beat until just smooth

IMG_7521

  • Grease a 20cm round tin and line with non stick baking paper, spoon mixture into tin and bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes
  • Allow to cool for 5 minutes then turn onto a wire rack

Buttercream

500g butter – softened (I use Lurpak butter, it’s a bit pricer but the colour is much better)

6 1/2 cups of icing sugar – sifted

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

  • Beat butter in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth and creamy
  • Add vanilla to butter mixture and beat well
  • Gradually add sifted icing sugar, and beat until well combined
  • Slice cakes in half once completely cooled.
  • Place one layer on serving plate, add even layer of buttercream, repeat until all layers of cake are stacked together – I find it easiest to use a pallet knife to do this
  • Spread remaining buttercream around outside and on top of cake
  • Decorate as desired

 

baby shower cake 2 copy

Linking up with The Multitasking Mummy for Mummy Mondays