Saturday 5 September 2009

Superhero Cake – Kapow!

My oldest niece chose a superhero them for her birthday party yesterday and cake was on the menu. The previous night I baked a chocolate birthday cake and gingerbread biscuits while E looked after Sylvia. Then on Friday, Sylvia and I headed down to my parents’ place where the party was taking place.

We arrived just as my brother Paul got home with a gaggle of nieces. Little Ella came with me to buy a few supplies including liquorice at a lolly shop. I was impressed that when I asked if she needed anything, she shook her head. I checked with her mum Susie later who said Ella prefers tomato to lollies. (Please take note, Sylvia – but ignore her dislike of pumpkin!) Ella also managed to get into the blue food dye so that her mum had to wash her mouth out. (Note to self: don't leave food colouring unattended when small children about.)

I had planned to make a cake looking like a superhero comic onomatopoeia speech bubble. You know the ones I mean? The Pow! Biff! Bam! words that punctuated comics and the 1960s Batman and Robin television series when the heroes and villains had a fight. I found this webpage of bat words. It seemed a fun way to have something instantly recognisable as superheroic without being too complicated.

I had also suggested to the birthday girl, Quin, that we do some cut out biscuits (cookies) in superhero shapes. I produced Superman’s shield, Batman’s bat symbol, the Flash’s lightening bolt, Spiderman’s web, a few ducks and lots of gingerbread man buddies. The last two might seem an odd choice of shapes but I couldn’t find any superhero cookie cutters. Instead I bought a few other new cutters – a duck, a wombat and a wee gingerbread man. It was taking me ages to cut the shapes so I use the cookie cutters at hand. E reassured me there is a Superduck superhero, though he didn’t look like a rubber duckie. We decided the little men would be the villains. The plan was for the girls to help with decorating the biscuits.

By the time the doorbell heralded the arrival of the first of Quin’s friends, we had started mixing icing and purchased a few ready-made gel icing tubes. The guests had been asked to dress as a superhero so there were lots of impressive costumes with masks, capes and lycra. They joined in the decorating with gusto and giggles. The discussion of the gingerbread men as baddies stimulated lots of fun and creativity. They gave them masks, stripes, suits etc. Paul’s partner, Miriam also helped out and made some impressive designs on Superman’s shield. Making up a good red icing is quite a challenge, so this was no mean feat.

Once the biscuits were done, the girls went off to play some loud video games, which made me feel quite old. But it wasn’t long before the bumper order of fish and chips arrived. This is a traditional Friday night meal in my family – a grease and oil change, we used to joke! Great comfort food, if not overly healthy. Easy way to cater to a crowd. I had chips and potato cakes after the corn jack went missing.

Next was the ceremonial blowing out of candles on the cake following singing happy birthday by candle light. The cake was a success. Susie and Grace were happy to have a gluten free cake. It tasted good to everyone else (although when I took a piece home to E he made a funny face at the liquorice on top). Quin was very pleased with her cake and helped out with the liquorice outlines around the edges.

I have reposted the recipe because it was originally posted on my first blog post for the Vampire Cake and I was pleased to find it still worked well with regular milk rather than evaporated milk and marmalade rather than raspberry jam (and mixing the baking powder in the cake tin when I realised at the last moment that I had forgot it). I have also posted step by step instructions on making the cake, though it was fairly straightforward.

If I did the superhero cake again I would be tempted to do BAM rather than KAPOW. Kapow looked cool but was harder to fit on the cake and to outline with liquorice. I also would dry the blue icing before piping onto it because I think that was why my icing outlines weren’t as sharp as I had hoped.

Then party organisers, Paul and Miriam, made everyone raspberry spiders. These are raspberry lemonade with a scoop of ice cream so they are all fizzy and creamy. I think they are like root beer floats. I should have asked Miriam who is American. She told me that in America they always had cake and icecream for birthdays but no one does it here. I can think of a few people who would enjoy it.

Once well fed, the girls returned to their activities. I had found some fun superhero party games ideas when searching for the cake but the best was the idea of having a Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth game in which guests had to lasso soft toys. Imagine the questions you might ask them if you know they would tell the truth! I also had superhero songs going through my head when thinking about the cake so I couldn’t resist putting together a little superhero playlist below even though I know it wasn’t needed for this party.

When we left there were lots of gingerbread superhero biscuits left. (I spoke to Paul today who said that the slumber party went well and all the bickies were devoured.) So I took one to send us on our way. It was a bat bickie with 'evil' piped across it in icing. I felt like it was a fitting end to the night to take the Bat of Evil and my cackling sidekick Sylvia and swoop off into the dark night.

Superhero playlist:

  • “Aquaman’s Lament” - Mark Aaron James
  • “Flash” - Queen
  • “Looking out for a hero” - Bonnie Tyler
  • “Ode to a Superhero” - Weird Al Yankovic
  • “Spiderman” - The Ramones
  • “Sunshine Superman” - Donovan
  • “Superman” - Laurie Anderson
  • “Superman” - REM
  • “The Supreme Being Teaches Spider-Man How to Be in Love” - Flaming Lips
  • “Theme from Greatest American Hero (Believe it or not)” - Joey Scarboro
  • “Waitin’ For A Superman” - The Flaming Lips

How to make a Superhero Kapow Cake

  • Make one Heavenly Chocolate Cake using recipe below. (If you don't want a gluten free one you can make any cake that holds its shape - check out this cake or my other novelty cakes for other ideas.)
  • Cover a large tray with foil – I used a baking tray – and place cake on foil.
  • Take a sharp knife and carefully cut zig zag shapes around the edge of the cake.
  • Set chunks of cake aside (we iced them with extra icing and piled them on a plate next to the large cake).
  • Use a dry pastry brush to brush away any crumbs.
  • Mix up some blue icing (frosting) by mixing icing sugar, some hot water and a few drops of blue food colouring to make a spreadable paste It should be a lurid bright blue.
  • Spread blue icing over the cake. Ideally I would ice around the sides but as I didn’t have much time I just iced the top of the cake.
  • If you have time, let blue icing dry so when you pipe the yellow word on it is less likely to bleed into the blue.
  • Take thin strips of liquorice and cut to lay along the jagged edges of the cake.
  • Make a very thick bright yellow icing.
  • Spoon yellow icing into a icing gun or other piping contraption (if you don’t have one you could fill a snaplock plastic bag with icing and snip a small hole in the corner.)
  • Sketch the word (Kapow, Bam, Biff, Pow etc) you want to use on a piece of paper. Use a sharp knife to lightly copy your word onto the blue icing to check it fits well - you should just scrape the top of the icing, especially as you may need to smooth with a hot wet knife and rewrite if it doesn't look right.
  • Pipe the word onto the cake using thick letters.
  • If you have enough yellow icing you could also pipe it around the edge of the cake on the inside of the liquorice strips. This is optional. You could also use liquorice strips on the other side of the yellow outline so it is had the dark outlines like in comics – but I didn’t.
  • Cut thin strips of liquorice to outline the words.
  • If you don’t want candles on the cake you could use some of the chunks of cake cut from the edges to hold the candles.
Heavenly Chocolate Cake (Gluten Free)
Adapted from my previous version of this cake

1 cup soy flour
¾ cup 100% corn flour (cornstarch)
2 teaspoon GF baking powder
½ cup cocoa
1¼ cups sugar
150g melted butter
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 mashed banana
2 tablespoons marmalade (or other jam)

Grease and line a lamington tin (30 x 20cm). Preheat oven to 180 C.

Place flours, baking powder, cocoa sugar, butter, vinegar and milk into a large bowl beat with electric beater on low speed for 1 minute. Add eggs, banana and jam and beat on medium speed for two minutes.

Pour cake mix into prepared tin (it is quite runny). Bake in moderate oven for 30 minutes or until cooked. Stand cakes in pans 5 minutes, turn onto wire rack to cool. Sandwich cakes together with whipped cream.

On the stereo:

Breathless: Camel


  1. That's so sweet that you went to all that effort! They biscuits look amazing, and ditto the superhero cake. I love the lesson learnt about leaving blur food colouring lying about as well!

  2. Wow~! This is a great post. Thank you very much! I'm in the process of planning a superman party, buying all the Superman party supplies. I'am going to follow the instructions on this site to make that Superhero Kapow Cake!! Thank you!!

  3. Wow! Johanna, you are surely a fantastic baker!

  4. Haha that's brilliant! It's so striking-just like a Kapow cake should be! :D

  5. Thanks Lysy - poor Ella with the blue icing - I need to be more careful with her about

    thanks Anonymous - glad to help out - hope the party goes well

    Thanks Fleur, Ashley, Kiss My Spatula

    Thanks Anh - I didn't feel a brilliant baker when I had to mix the baking powder in while the cake was in the tin ready to go in the oven

    Thanks Lorraine - superheroes need lots of bright primary colours don't they!

  6. Wow! Boffo! Sha-zam! That is an incredible looking cake--you are soooo talented (and so awesome at time management!). And poor Ella!


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