Sunday, 29 April 2012

Ghost cake, birthdays and wildlife

Let me tell you a terrible secret.  This year I was tired and felt a bit low on ideas for E's birthday.  I thought maybe I wouldn't do one of the novelty cakes that I love making.  Then I found one that was easy to make and that he just loved.  This ghost birthday cake demands very little in the way of cutting shapes, decoration or even colouring the icing.  Yet it is still impressive and fun.  It is so easy I am considering making it every year for him from now on.  (Even if the eggshell eyes are a little odd!)

E now shares his birthday with my blog.  It is 5 years old today.  He got lots of wonderful presents, including chocolates, a graphic novel of Hamlet, a diamond jubilee tea towel, a record player and a gomnie in the garden (the gomnie is the one with the red hat that Sylvia spent a lot of time telling her dad about before his birthday!!!).  My blog gets a piece of doggerel.  Hey!  It's my blog and I will write bad poetry if I want to!  After all birthday are meant to be a little self indulgent:

Happy birthday GGG
It's my blogiversary
I've been blogging for 5 years
About breakfast, lunch and tea.

In the spirit of self-indulgence, I will pause here to reflect briefly on how much I love blogging!  Since that first post five years ago, I have learnt so much, met lots of interesting people and cooked lots of yummy food.  I do a regular round up at the end of each year so I will until then for the naval gazing and just say a simple thanks to you who support me and read my posts.  Regular readers might have noticed that I am posting a bit less often right now.  Life is busy and demanding but over the years I have noticed my blogging energy wax and wane.  If I can be sure of one thing, it is that life will keep changing, just as this blog does.

We had a celebration lunch in Geelong with my family.  Upon arriving, my mum served treacle scones especially for E.  At the birthday boy's request, I made haggis for Haggis Nachos and my mum did a Mexican feast of tacos, nachos, three different chilli con carnes, guacamole, and lots of other side dishes.

At dessert time, E blew out candles on his ghost cake and my brother in-law John who has a birthday around the same time blew out candles on the sponge layer cake that my sister Fran made for him.  We also indulged in some of my mum's pavlova (half peppermint crisp topping and half strawberries and passionfruit) and a gf chocolate caramel slice.

We had planned to go a Jirrahlinga Koala Wildlife Sanctuary before the birthday lunch.  Life being hectic and disorganised, we ended up going after lunch.  Most of the wombats, E's favourite animals,  were sound asleep.  He loves them because they are so sleepy (and snuggly), so it didn't bother him at all.  Though he did enjoy watching one that was snuffling about in its food scraps.

More alert were the koalas.  In fact, I don't think I have ever seen such active koalas before.  Most of my sightings of koalas have been curled up in a furry ball up a tree (like these).  Even on a couple of occasions at wildlife parks (including Jirrahlinga) when I have come across a zookeeper with one in their arms, they have been more snuggly than lively.  On this trip they were sitting up in the trees grabbing at pawfuls of leaves and stuffing them in their mouths, scratching and stretching and looking about.  We decided that later in the day was a good time to visit.  It was definitely a quiet time of day to be there.

We had a lovely time with some curious kangaroos.  My dad chatted to the cockatoos.  E and Sylvia went off in search of foxes.  Quin avoided the snakes and did silly dances with Maddy.  Ella mused about how she might be a zookeeper when she grew up.  Then just as we were about to leave, a zookeeper came along with a little joey in a pouch.  The mother kangaroo had died and so the staff were looking after it.  It was a sweet wee thing that didn't mind us patting it.  A great way to end the visit.  E and Sylvia and I then drove home for some Haggis Pizza and so-so DVD, Gnomeo and Juliet.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Guitar Birthday Cake
Two years ago: Viking cat cake with a butterscotch secret
Three years ago: Happy Birthday to E and GGGiraffe (choc orange cake)
Four years ago: Green Gourmet Giraffe Birthday Cake
Five years ago: A very vampire birthday 

How to Make a Ghost Birthday Cake
(Adapted from the Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book)

You will need:
  • 1 plain cake (I used this butterless butter cake recipe) baked in a rectangle slice tray (mine is 18 x 28cm)
  • 1 batch of buttercream icing (see notes below*)
  • 2 clean half egg shells (I washed the egg shells after putting egg in the cake)
  • 2 jaffas (or round red lollies)
  • about a dozen green smarties (or other small green lollies)

Bake the cake the night before, if possible.  When ready to decorate the cake, find an appropriate board to present the cake on.  I covered a baking tray with foil and later remembered that it might be better to use my cake tin with a cover for transporting it in the car but by then it was too late.

Now cut rounded corners off the cake to make a round dome shape at the top end of the cake.  Try to do this in one cut because you then position the corners at the side of the cake to make the arms of the ghost that are held up to scare you.  Whoooooooo!

*Buttercream frosting notes: The book called for white and fluffy royal icing but I avoid uncooked egg whites.  Instead I made buttercream frosting by beating 125g of Nuttalex margarine (to have it whiter than butter) until fluffy and then beating in 1 and 1/2 cups of icing sugar.  It was only just enough and I could have done with slightly more.

Spread buttercream frosting over the top and sides of the cake.  Use knife to make peaks in the icing, including peaks to indicate hair.

Now decorate with lollies.  Place the egg shells where the eyes will be.  Spoon a dot of buttercream frosting in each egg shell and place a jaffa on it to be the eyeball.  Position the green lollies into a crooked line to make a spooky smile.  The book advised covering the plate or board with pink coloured coconut to surround the ghost but I didn't have time. I don't think it needed the coconut, though it might have been nice.  E was very pleased with it.  So is GGG! 

On the stereo:
It: Pulp

33 comments:

  1. i love that you love themed birthday cakes..it's so sweet. Happy Birthday GGG!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love the birthday cake! Around here it would be perfect for a birthday around Halloween.

    Happy Birthday to GGG- thank you for writing this lovely blog and sharing your life with us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Nupur - E really should have a birthday around halloween because he loves all that spooky stuff - but maybe this cake might appear at halloween some time

      Delete
  3. happy bloggaversary - and happy birthday E! cute cake too :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Happy Birthday to both E and GGG! Great cake to celebrate. One of these days I will get round to making a proper decorated cake like yours! I hope like is busy in a good way, not a fraught stressed way. Love reading your blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Caroline - I just don't know where the time goes these days - but I think Sylvia gets more and more demanding though I can't complain too much as it is so sweet the way she engages with us (most of the time at least!)

      Delete
  5. Happy belated birthday to E! And happy blogiversary! Love the cake - it's adorable. Love the animal photos, and I get why E loves the wombats. My 5 year blogiversary comes up at the end of this month - I find it a little scary that I am still writing it 5 years on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Cakelaw - it is interesting how quite a few other bloggers I still am in touch with have been blogging about the same amount of time - glad I am not the only one still going :-)

      Delete
  6. How gorgeous is that cake? And those Australian animals. Wombats sleeping on their back are just damn adorable. Happy Birthday!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Matt - sleeping wombats are indeed adorable - which is just as well because this seems to be their habitual state in these wildlife parks :-)

      Delete
  7. Happy birthday to E and happy 5 year blogging anniversary to you! What an amazing feat. I'm sorry I missed the first 4 years or so, but am still enjoying reading your older posts on occasion when I search your recipes or follow a link back :)

    I rarely make novelty cakes, and yet I like them so much - this one is great. It looks like you saw some cute animals at the wildlife park too; a wonderful birthday outing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kari - glad you find your way into some old posts occasionally - seems there is so much stuff that it is hard to highlight some of it - and I spend too much time thinking about ways to help people find it

      Delete
  8. I love this cake - one of the simpler ones to construct, but I reckon one of the cutest too. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Cindy - yep, it is very cute

      Delete
  9. Happy blogiversary dear J-lady!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hehe that is SO cute! And I love the eggshell eyes :P Happy birthday to E and the blog! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Lorraine - the egg shell eyes are odd but they work well

      Delete
  11. Happy birthday to E and your blog! The ghost cake is very cute, it's great that you have a simpler in your repertoire that you can fall back on if necessary. I do admire your novelty cake baking. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Mel - simple cakes are definitely necessary with a small girl wanting to help out these days :-)

      Delete
  12. Happy birthday to E and happy bloggiversary to you! Five years is quite an accomplishment! The ghost cake is fabulous. But I can't get over that adorable joey!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Joanne - we were really lucky to see the joey - it brought home to me that a lot of the animals are there because they have been rescued

      Delete
  13. Oh I am sorry I missed your 5th Blogiversary Johanna. So without delay, HAPPY HAPPY BLOGIVERSARY and belated Birthday wishes to E too. I have said it before and I will say it again, yours was one of the first blogs I stumbled upon and loved it, and that feeling remains today. wish there are many more years in your blog still x I also admire your novelty cakes, I have never attempted one YET.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Shaheen - very kind - so glad I was one of the blogs to inspire you as I always enjoy reading your blog. Would love to see you make a novelty cake as I am sure you would give it your usual attention to detail

      Delete
  14. I can't believe how late I am to BOTH birthdays!! Happy, Happy birthday to E and to GGG. I had to laugh because I was reading about how E shares his b-day with your blog and your musings on blogging, and then you wrote, "We had a celebration lunch in Geelong with my family. . . " and I thought you meant FOR THE BLOG!! Ha ha. Well, the cake is adorable and glad it was a hit. And that wombat!!! Oh my goodness, cutest thing ever (the baby kanga is a close second). So amazing that you have those animals there that don't even exist here. . . but I digress! Hope you enjoyed the celebration, and here's to many, many more years of blogging for you. :) xo

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for dropping by. I love hearing from you. Please share your thoughts and questions. Annoyingly the spammers are bombarding me so I have turned on the pesky captcha code (refresh to find an easy one if you don't like the first one)