Thursday, 17 October 2013

The Getting of Wisdom Birthday Cake

My dad celebrated a significant birthday on the weekend.  When we were planning his party, my mum asked me to make the cake.  I make a lot of birthday cakes.  They are usually novelty cakes for kids that I make more fun than perfectionism.  A request for a gluten free plain vanilla cake for an adult made me shiver with horror.  I am not good at plain cakes, layer cakes or piping decorations.  So I reverted to the novelty cakes idea. 

It had to be a simple cake that could be made in the morning before heading down to the party in Geelong.  A book.  My dad thinks nothing of building a bookshelf to cover an entire wall.  He once organised his books according to the Bliss system.  He often holds passionate conversations about the books he has been reading.  A book was perfect.  I used the style of the spooky book in Annie Rigg's Birthday Cakes for Kids, but I wanted a book to suit my dad.  

Firstly let us turn to other party food.  My dad loved the doughnuts I made him a few weeks back so much that I decided to make some mini jam doughnuts for him.  I made the dough and let it rise during the week, froze it and took it from the freezer before going to bed on the evening before the party. 

In the morning (after a cold shower because our hot water had broken down) I baked the doughnuts, dipped them in butter and sugar and cinnamon.  Then I used a squeezy bottle to fill them with jam.  There was heaps of sweet food and lots leftover but I still felt it was nice for my dad to have doughnuts at his party.  He is such a fan!

I also made the cake the day before the party.  You might remember I had practiced the gluten free version of the white chocolate mudcake.  On the day I made the big one (in a roasting tin because the lamington tin seemed too small) it wasn't quite cooked in the middle and cracked when I turned it out of the tin while warm.  Arhg!  In retrospect the sides of the cake weren't quite flat enough but I hate the idea of wasting cake by trimming it.  I found a large silver cake board in House.

I made 2 batches of frosting as directed by Annie Rigg (A bit like 3 times this chocolate frosting and half this buttercream frosting.)  I firstly spread chocolate frosting on top and on one long side.  Then I carefully spread the buttercream around the remaining three sides.  I ran a fork through the buttercream to resemble book pages.  Then I piped chocolate frosting around the top and bottom edges and used a knife to smooth the top so the 'cover' overhung the 'pages' slightly and the bottom cover peeped out.  I used melted white icing and a ziplock bag (with a tiny snip in a corner) to pipe the text and decoration.

The title I chose was The Getting of Wisdom.  This early Twentieth Century novel by Henry Handel Richardson is an Australian classic that I studied at high school.  The story is about the coming of age of a school girl in Melbourne who struggles with the tension between creative individuality and fitting in with her peers.  However the sentiment of the title seems appropriate for any adult.  And my dad is very wise.  He can always be relied upon for advice, for handywork, for a story, for the right words, for a joke.  He has even started learning to cook lately!

You might notice that the above and below photos have a slightly different text to the top photo.  I wasn't happy with the last line of text not quite fitting on the cake.  Then I found I could scrape off the white chocolate and use a knife to smooth over the chocolate frosting (sometimes with some extra frosting - I had heaps leftover) so I could start again.

Once the cake was done, I collected (mum's pre-ordered) pastries from the A1 Bakery, put the cake in the boot of the car, hoping it would be ok by the time we got to my parents' house.  It was.  My mum (and rest of the family) had done an amazing job of preparing the house, the garden, the food, drinks and even ordering perfect sunny spring weather.  My brother and friends and my niece played music in the backyard.  My dad had a captive audience to tell some of his stories during the speech.  Everyone had a great time.

As we left the party, my dad stood at the car chatting while we loaded leftover dips, turkish bread, pastries, slices and cakes into the car and strapped Sylvia in her seat.  I mentioned about the cake being a book.  He looked puzzled.  I realised that the family knew it was a book because I had talked to them about ideas for the title.  My dad had been left out of these discussions.  So maybe it wasn't obvious to the guests either but many told me how much they enjoyed it.  Which is what matters most of all.  Happy birthday dad.  Here's to many more years of wisdom!

23 comments:

  1. You did such an amazing job. I want some of those donut holes for my birthday! Love the party montage. Very pretty :)

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    1. Thanks Cass - it was a pretty day and the doughnut holes were quite easy when prepared in advance but might be a bit far to send them for your birthday :-)

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  2. Lucky Dad! That cake looks gorgeous, and those donuts too. I am such a sucker for a donut.

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  3. I love the book :) Your photos are lovely!

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  4. That's so sweet how big a fan your dad is of those donuts. I must admit that they look very biteable (is that a word?). I love their plump little shape :D

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    1. Thanks Lorraine - I am sure biteable is a word (well in the world of vampires anyway - ha ha)

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  5. What a fantastic cake and this also brought back a few memories as I read The Getting of Wisdom in high school. Love the donuts too!

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    1. Thanks Mel - I was browsing book titles and found this one and it just seemed right

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  6. Oh, how wonderful! I loved that book and love the idea of a book cake (in fact, if you see my most recent post, you might laugh at the timing of that in the context of this ;) ). You are clearly the right person to be asking for family birthday cakes - although I think we knew that already!

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    1. Thanks Kari - our posts do seem spookily to reflect each other - but then again books and chocolate go together so well - and I never say no to a request for a cake :-)

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  7. The cake looks lovely!! Happy birthday to your dad!

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  8. A superfun way to celebrate the big 70...Happy Birthday to your Dad!
    I've always wanted to make an edible book since I read about the International Edible Book Festival
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Books2eat-International-Edible-Books-Festival/105378442920340?sk=photos_albums
    Thanks for the inspiration. I'd love to make a "A Tramp Abroad" book for my uncle's upcoming birthday...he revels in regaling us with tales of his travels so it's perfect! :)

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    1. Thanks for that link Peace Patch - what a great festival. You idea for your uncle's cake sounds like fun

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  9. haha I LOVE this cake idea!! I bet your Dad was super impressed!

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  10. My favourite kind of family gatherings. Glad the birthday cake was a hit!

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    1. thanks Brydie - yes it was a very relaxed gathering in the backyard

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  11. You are such a great cake maker! I've loved seeing all the fancy cakes you've made over the years. The doughnuts look delicious too.

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    1. Aw thanks Emma - I love making the fancy cakes - just so long as they don't need to look perfect :-)

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  12. Love the donuts and the cake - perfect for a 70th. I understood the book title reference!

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  13. This cake looks brilliant! Love the idea

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  14. Such a beautiful cake, and such a good title for the book! I bet he loved it!

    Donuts also looked fab! I would have been filling my pockets with those!

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