Saturday 10 November 2012

Rocket Birthday Cake

Sylvia and I have been planning to make a rocket cake for our boys' birthday for a while now.  It would be even more fun if they could be here but at least Sylvia gets to enjoy her brothers' birthday, if not their company.  I was immediately attracted to this rocket ship birthday cake because it seemed easy with minimal cutting and minimal waste.

The cake posed a few challenges.  They always do.  I wanted any colour but pink for the boys' birthday cake.  Yet the only colour of lifesavers I could find were the pink musk ones.  At least Sylvia was pleased.  There used to be heaps of lifesaver flavours and colours.  Maybe these days it is an old fashioned sort of lolly (or 'candy' or 'sweetie' depending on where you come from). 

I wanted to use a flourless chocolate cake because it is so easy and we had celiacs coming along.  My recipe is quite small so I supersized it to fit a larger cake tin.  I have been enamoured of a white chocolate cream cheese frosting lately so I used this.  The first time I made it it was enough for two large cakes and I still had lots over.  The second time I halved it and still had heaps sitting in the fridge for ages.  This time I halved it again and was pleased to have very little leftover.  At the end of the post I have repeated these recipes with the amounts I used this time.

There were the usual distractions that I expect with a young child running about, and a few unexpected ones.  In the middle of decorating the cake, I stopped to blow up a giant plastic Halloween pumpkin that E had bought.  Only to discover that it was not just a decoration but was a bouncy ball.  Despite my warnings to Sylvia about caution, the pumpkin inevitably bounced onto the cake.  Fortunately I had enough icing leftover to patch it up.

My family came over for a lunch for the boys' birthday. I tried to keep it simple but still ended up the night before making cake, pate, coconut ice and hummus.  For mains we had voracious vegan pate (even better - and gf - with chickpea flour rather than breadcrumbs), spinach pancakes, hummus (maybe needed a bit more garlic), my mum's zucchini and feta fritters, vegie sticks, rice crackers, salted popcorn, cheese and chips.

The rocket cake was the star of the dessert.  Served alongside were chocolate gingerbread cats, gf little cakes, coconut ice, and fruit.  My mum made the little cakes.  She also helped E with all the dishes. 

For entertainment, I gave the kids a bag of balloons to blow up.  But really, the kids know how to keep themselves amused in a house full of toys.  Quin did her cat impressions while Maddy did actions with cat hand puppet.  Ella rode Sylvia's bike around the front yard.  Cooper loved the cash register.  Ashton had fun putting the nurse dolly to bed in the doll's cot.  And Grace was very interested in Sylvia's new sandals.  We also talked of plans for cakes for forthcoming birthdays.

After everyone left, Sylvia's room was a mess and the house felt oddly quiet.  E went to sleep while I sorted my photos and Sylvia played with the tea set that Susie brought her because her cousins had grown out of it.  It amused me to see Sylvia setting out the pretend food.  Her dollies had baked beans and her dad got 'cow' because he is 'meat' (as she calls meat eaters).  I didn't have the energy to make dinner.  There were heaps of leftovers in the kitchen but food was far from our thoughts.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Monkey birthday cake
Two years ago: Eggplant Pate for Boys Birthday
Three years ago: Boys Birthday, Number Two
Four years ago: Chocolate cake for our boys
Five years ago: Easy Peasy Risotto Soup

Jill Dupleix's flourless chocolate cake - supersized
Updating a previously recipe on green gourmet giraffe

300g dark chocolate, broken up
1 tsp ground wattleseed (or coffee)
150g butter
150g caster sugar
150g ground almonds (I used a bit more)
4 eggs, separated

Melt chocolate, wattleseed and butter.  Stir in sugar and almonds, then egg yolks.  Beat egg white to stiff peaks in a small bowl and then gently fold into chocolate mixture until combined.  Tip into greased and lined 22cm square cake tin.  Bake at 160 C for 45 minutes (I did the skewer in the middle test to check it wasn't too undercooked in the middle).  Cool in the tin.

White chocolate cream cheese frosting
Updating a previous recipe on green gourmet giraffe

50g white chocolate
22g butter
200g cream cheese
1 cup icing sugar

Melt white chocolate in microwave.  Stir in butter.  Use electric beaters to beat in cream cheese and gradually add in icing sugar.  Keeps in the fridge for weeks (sometimes even months here).

How to make a Rocket Cake

What you will need:
  • 1 x 22 or 23cm square cake*
  • 1 batch of white chocolate cream cheese frosting (above)
  • large tray or plate (I use a baking tray covered in foil)
  • pen and paper
  • mini m&ms
  • rainbow sour strips
  • 2 lifesavers, polos or other small ring-shaped lollies 
Draw a stencil on a piece of paper. 

Cut out the body and fins and check they look ok on the cake.

Use a sharp knife to draw the outline of the body on the cake using the stencil for guidance.  Then cut out the body, being careful to save the trimmings so you can use two corners for the fins.  Place on tray or plate as above.

Follow the photo at the top to decorate.  Divide frosting into three bowl.  Leave one white, mix one into blue and one yellow or use your favourite colours.

Ice the cake in sections with the frosting.  You don't have to be too careful about having the bands of colour meet because once the frosting is on, you lay down sour strips across where the yellow and blue bands join.  Then make some lines of m&ms by the sour strips to represent studs.  Position the lifesavers etc as windows in the middle band of colour.  Dot some more m&ms on the fins.  Cut the remaining sour strips into different lengths and push into the bottom of the ship to make the blast of the rocket.

* The cake it needs to be sturdy enough to cut into shapes and hold icing without buckling.  I used the above flourless chocolate cake recipe because it is my easiest gluten free cake.  It is a bit fragile but works ok if you are gentle.  If I am not making gf cakes, I love using a mud cake for such cakes but if it is just for kids who are more interested in icing than cake, I make a plain butter cake.

On the Stereo:
London 0 Hull 4: The Housemartins


  1. what a clever lady! And a wonderfully fun way to celebrate your boys :)

    1. Thanks Lisa - we are lucky to be able to celebrate

  2. What a lovely celebration Johanna - and I imagine a fairly poignant afternoon. The cake is gorgeous and I think it is wonderful that Sylvia can celebrate her brothers and know their memories and thoughts. I am sure they would have loved this cake even with the pink lifesavers.

    I will confess, too, to laughing out loud at the thought of the bouncing pumpkin bouncing on to the cake :)

    1. Thanks Kari - I am glad sylvia is able to celebrate her brothers' birthday - I think they would have loved this cake too - I am able to smile about the bouncing pumpkin in retrospect but I couldn't believe the chunk it took out of the icing at the time - though at least it could be patched (I always try and take a photo once I finish one of these cakes just because I worry about such mishaps)

  3. What a terrific cake! Maybe I'll put an order in with Michael for my own birthday. :-D

    I think it's lovely that you honour your boys in this way, and that Sylvia and her cousins can grow up 'knowing' them.

    1. Thanks Cindy - glad you like the cake - it is lots of fun to make - cakes are great how they help us know our boys :-)

  4. You did an AMAZING job with that cake! It's gorgeous!

  5. Looks fabulous. Reminds me to of the rocket wallace and gromit went to the moon in. You put on a wonderful assortment of treats.

    1. Thanks Katie - I hadn't thought of wallace and gromit but I can see it is quite like their rocket. It reminded me of a cartoon by a local called Leunig where the father is leaving the family to go up in a rocket in quite a sweet scene

  6. It's a gorgeous cake, and it looks like it was a fun party too. I adore the little girls' sandals all lined up.

    1. Thanks Cakelaw - little girls' sandals are fun (did you guess that the pink flower ones were sylvia's choice?)

  7. Adorable, and the cake held up very well! The coconut slice sounds intriguing, too. What a lovely party, and how nice for Sylvia to spend time with so many relatives! And another way to use my wattleseed. . . :)

    1. Thanks Ricki - it is a nice get together - coconut ice is a childhood sweet that I still love - chockful of sugar but I love anything with that much coconut

  8. The cake looks fantastic, you really have a knack for the novelty cakes! It sounds like you had a lovely day and it's great that all of your family were there too.

    I couldn't stop smiling when I read the bit about Sylvia's pretend food, I love hearing her amusing comments.

    1. Thanks Mel - very kind - and am glad you share my amusement at sylvia's comments - so fascinating to see kids' getting their head around the world


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