Wednesday 3 February 2010

My Camera Birthday Cake

When I was looking for a new camera last year, I thought it would be nice to buy a green one. Unfortunately the camera that I wanted didn’t come in green. Luckily birthdays make everything possible and wishes come true. I decided that on my birthday this year I would have a green camera. A green camera birthday cake.

Actually, I first decided on a camera cake because my camera is so constantly in use with blogging and Sylvia. Green frosting seemed like fun as well as wish fulfillment. I usually make a walnut fudge cake for my birthday but this year seemed a good one for a novelty cake. However, with the rest of the preparation for the birthday lunch, my energy was limited. I looked on the web for some ideas. It had to be fairly easy so I preferred the camera flat on its back rather than standing up.

As my own camera is a Canon PowerShot SX110IS, I decided I would make one that looked a bit like it. Though the writing on it is so small that I didn’t even attempt to get that on the cake, just a few representative symbols. While it is not perfect (I miss the viewfinder), one of my favourite features is the flash only goes off when you flip it up rather than when the camera feels like it. Blogging has taught me the beauty of photos without the flash and this camera is so good that I rarely need to use the flash. In fact, if I need to use it, it is very dark and it is not worth taking a photos. This is all very well with food, which always stays still, but less easy with people especially babies who just keep moving. For every gorgeous picture of Sylvia, I have many blurred ones. Thank goodness for digital photography. Ah, bloggers love camera talk, and if you want more discussion on photography, check out this post by Melbourne Gastronome with all the comments. But I digress. Though I rarely use my flash, I chose to have a flash up on my cake because it helps represent a camera.

It was not my finest moment in cake decoration. I was so busy thinking “mmmm… green white chocolate cream cheese frosting”, that I didn’t do much further planning for decoration. Fortunately I forgot to buy cream cheese, and had to make a quick trip to the supermarket on the morning of decorating the cake. While I was there I decided to buy a packet of liquorice allsorts.

I did think about buying fruit leathers but couldn’t see any in green (why?), though there were ones with green stripes that I could have chopped up. Later I thought, if I had been more prepared I could have bought some coloured chocolate buttons from the Victoria Market. I love how liquorice looks but am not sure it is the right taste on the cake. I could have piped icing but was not sure I had the patience while watching Sylvia chase Zinc.

As it was, the frosting was delicious and was much easier to spread than the usual plain icing sugar and water with a little butter that I often use or the ganache I recently used. I was inspired by the white chocolate ganache on Dash’s airplane cake but wanted it to be less rich. I also decided to make mud cake, because it held its shape well for Dash’s cake. However, because there would be a few kids about, I decided to make it without alcohol.

It seemed a good decision to leave out the alcohol when I gave Sylvia a wee taste. I wasn’t sure she would take to the chocolate but she is her mother’s daughter and loved it. The other kids did too although Grace was not keen on her gf cake. Susie didn’t comment on the gf cake but did say how much she loved the frosting. The frosting was fantastic - even better than the white chocolate ganache - but the recipe made far more than I needed. I still have a couple of cups of it in the freezer.

Although the cake was enjoyed by everyone, small pieces were quite sufficient and we had a lot leftover. I confess I wasn’t too upset. It was delicious and I was pleased to still have some when my actual birthday came around. Below is what I did.

How to Make a Camera Cake

What you will need:

  • 1 rectangular mud cake baked in a lamington tin (20 x 30 cm)
  • 1 flatter 20cm diameter round mud cake
  • 1 small gluten free mud cake, optional
  • about 1½ to 2 cups of white chocolate cream cheese frosting

NB: See below for recipes for these

For decoration:

  • liquorice allsorts and bullets


  • green and brown chocolate buttons


  • green and dark purple or red fruit leathers
  • yellow sparkles

Cover a large oven tray with foil (or use a large cake platter or tray if you have one that is large enough). Place large rectangular cake on the tray.

Here is what I did – I took a ruler and measured a photo of a camera cake and then multiplied it to be about the same size as my cake. It helped me to work out the proportions. You could even measure your camera if you wanted the cake to look like it.

Take a ruler and measure the long side. Use a sharp knife to mark the flash at the top of the camera. It should be about 8cm wide, about 4 or 5 cm long, and be about 8 cm from the right edge of the cake. Before cutting, take the round cake and place it on top of the rectangular cake so that the flash is lined up with the centre of the cake. If this looks right, cut away the flash, if not move it so it does look right.

Once you have cut the flash, you should now cut the long off cuts to make a bar that is about 4 cm wide along the left side of the cake. It took me a bit of trimming the off cuts so that they all sat together uniformly.

Now check your decorations look right before you put on the icing. It took me a few goes to get mine right and is easier to do without the icing or frosting. I chopped off the green ends of liquorice allsorts but you could also use chocolate buttons or fruit leather or even pipe firm darker coloured icing. If I did it again I think I might go around the outline of the whole camera not just the flash and lens but this would have taken more planning so it depends on of you are reading this as you are about to decorate the cake or a week beforehand!

Use a pastry brush to brush away as many crumbs as possible. If desired you could sandwich the round cake onto the rectangular one with some frosting, but I don’t bother. Cover the cake with green frosting and smooth it over with a butter knife as much as you can.

Place your decorations on the cake. I used black liquorice to outline the flash and lens and then green to do swirls to represent the opening of the lens. I used yellow sparkles to fill the flash. I chopped up liquorice to make marks where there is writing on my camera. It doesn’t actually just say canon along the side but this was the easiest thing to write with liquorice. (Hey, if you want to try writing PowerShot SX110IS along the side, you are welcome – though in retrospect I think I might write SX110IS rather than a brandname.)

Finally ice and decorate your gluten free cake and place candles on it, if you are doing a gf cake. Now you are ready to display the cake to your guests.

Mud cake

330g butter, chopped
200g dark chocolate, chopped
cup hot water
cups sugar (I used both castor and raw sugars)
cup pomegranate juice
½ tbsp ground wattleseeds (or coffee granules)
2 cups plain flour
½ cup self raising flour
cup cocoa
3 eggs
1-2 tbsp gluten free flour and pinch of baking powder (optional)

White chocolate cream cheese frosting:
adapted from Fabulous Foods
makes about 3½ cups

750g cream cheese, at room temperature
180g white chocolate (I used Cadbury)
¼ cup butter, at room temperature
2½ cups icing sugar
food dye, optional

Grease and line a lamington tin and a 20cm round cake tin.. Preheat oven to 160ºC.

Combine butter, chocolate, water, sugar and cranberry juice in a large bowl and microwave til melted – it will be a watery speckled mixture but will be smooth once flour is in. Cool slightly. Sift in cocoa and stir in eggs.

If you would like a gluten free small cake for gf family and/or friends, take a small amount (about ¼ - ½ cup) of the mixture and place in a separate bowl. Mix in gf flour and baking powder. Pour into a small greased and lined cake tin – I use a ramekin but I have used muffin cups before. This will be the cake that the candles go on.

Now sift flours into remaining mixture. Mix til mixture is smooth but it will still be runny. Pour into prepared cake tins. The batter in the lamington tin should be twice as high as in the round tin.

Bake 40-50 minutes for the large cake and I think about 30 minutes for the round cake – mine was on a lower rack in the oven so it took a bit longer. Ditto for the small gluten free cake. Times will vary for each cake so check early to see if the middle is firming up quickly or not. Don’t worry too much if it is a little undercooked but for this cake you don’t want it sinking in the middle so test with a skewer in the middle to check it is cooked before removing from the oven. Cool for at least 30 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool or cool in the tin.

To make frosting:
Melt white chocolate in a large bowl together. Cool to lukewarm (I didn’t cool as much as I should have and had a few little lumps of white chocolate in my mixture). Rather than beat cream cheese and butter separately, I beat them with the melted white chocolate, using an electric beater. Gradually beat in icing sugar. Frosting will be quite fluffy and easy to spread.

On the Stereo:

The Love Songs of Burt Bacharach:
Various Artists


  1. That's such a fun-looking cake - well done!! Also, I have never in my life experienced the wonder of having cups of frosting in my freezer. I'm not pretty sure I've led a deprived life.

  2. licorice allsorts are vego?!

  3. Wow! Now I want a camera cake... or any non-circle or square or triangle shaped cake!

    That looks amazing and this is a great post.

  4. Thanks Hannah - frosting in the freezer is a wonderful thing but I am wondering if I should have frozen it in smaller amounts for a quick batch of carrot muffins?

    Thanks Steph - will have to check, though I am not as strict as I should be about gelatine in lollies

    Thanks Jaime - I love cakes that aren't regular sizes too - though once you cut them they are harder to ice

    Thanks Sophie - I loved the mud cake - so did E

  5. That's so awesome, you shouldn't have to make your own birthday cake though!

  6. You are SO creative with your cakes, and I love how it looks! So you got your green camera after all ;) And I had to laugh at your comment that "food stands still"--never thought of it that way, but how true!

  7. Wow! I'm super impressed, Johanna! That deserves a prize! :)

  8. Aww, how adorable! I can't think of a more perfect cake for a food blogger :)

    Happy Birthday and wishing you many many more!

  9. What a cool cake! I adore licorice allsorts, so they make a nice touch.

  10. Thanks Kristy - I enjoy an excuse to make a cake so I don't mind - just wish I had more time for it

    Thanks Ricki - I appreciate photographing food after spending time with cats and dogs :-) Hard to photograph my own camera though!

    Thanks Susan - very kind - but just some appreciative appetites will do

    Thanks Nupur - I thought it was suitable for a food blogger too

    Thanks Cakelaw - I love licorice allsorts because they remind me of my grandpa

  11. Happy birthday - and another great cake! Could you taste the pomegranate juice in it? That sounds like a very fine addition to me.

  12. Thanks Food Hunter

    Thanks Lysy - it wasn't so much that you could taste the juice as that the cake was a bit sweeter without the taste of whisky


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