It was my daughter’s 3rd birthday recently and as Little Miss Spice is still obsessed by ducks, there was only one possibility for the cake. Not Peppa Pig. Not princesses. It had to be a duck cake.
I came across this cake in Cakes and Cake Decorating by Angela Nilsen and Sarah Maxwell and knew I had to copy the way it was decorated. Once I’d shown Little Miss Spice the picture, there was no backing out. Although it looked impressive in the book, it was basically a matter of just assembling the individual parts. I liked the look of the jelly – it made the cake more interesting and just a little bit different to many of the other birthday cakes I’ve seen.
I made the cake (using my own recipe) and prepared everything the day before. I thought I would just put it together quickly on the morning of the party. The night before I’d whipped up some cream with a little green food colouring and icing sugar till it stood in fairly stiff peaks, the perfect consistency for spreading on the top and sides of the cake. What could go wrong?
The next morning I took it out of the fridge, expecting it to be exactly the same as when I’d made it. I held my palette knife in one hand and tipped up the bowl above the cake with the other hand, thinking I might need to help the cream out of the bowl when instead it all plopped out and ran down the sides of the cake. What had started as double cream appeared to have returned to being double cream, albeit with a greenish tinge. This was not how the cake decorating was supposed to go.
As I complained about it, Little Miss Spice piped up with, Why is my cake not good enough? Arggh. Do you mind if it doesn’t look perfect? I asked her. Yes, she replied. Arrrggggghhh again.
Could I scrape it off and rewhip it? Would it work or would it just be full of crumbs? I didn’t want to risk it. There was no time to go out and buy more cream before the party. It would just have to do. I sprinkled on the green dessicated coconut and most of it just slid down the sides of the cake too. I put the green jelly in the middle and another landslide began. I really should have stuck to fondant or buttercream. I was fearing this cake was not going to be remembered for the right reasons.
I didn’t risk adding the fondant ducks and grass or the marshmallow flowers in advance. The last minute decorating was going to have to happen at the party.
Later, as a room full of three-year-olds looked on, I hastily finished off the cake. After telling everyone it was a disaster, it actually looked quite good. It cut well, no more of it had collapsed and it tasted great. The lime jelly on the top was a really good addition. If you’ve never tried jelly on a cake before then try it, it may look a mess but it went really well with the cream and the coconut.
Now, I know I may have scared you off by telling you this cake was a disaster but really, don’t let that put you off. With just the small tweak of not adding food colour to the cream I’m sure it would be perfect, and even if you have the same near disastrous adventure that I had, it will still be worth it for the taste of the finished cake.
Ingredients for the cake
300g butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
350g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Ingredients for the buttercream
125g butter, at room-temperature
250g icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Ingredients for the cream
300g double cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
250g dessiccated coconut
Green food colour
Green fondant icing
Yellow fondant icing
Black fondant icing
Green Lime jelly
How to Make Duck Birthday Cake
How to Make the Cake
1. Grease and line a deep 20cm cake tin. Heat the oven to 140C.
2. In a food mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until they are light in colour. Beat in the eggs, one at a time then the vanilla extract.
3. Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold into the mixture. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake in the oven for about 1.5 hours. Test the cake with a skewer to see if it’s ready. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
How to Make all the Elements to Decorate the Cake
1. Make the jelly according to the pack instructions and put in the fridge to set.
2. Make the buttercream by beating together the butter, icing sugar and vanilla.
3. Whisk the cream until it hold stiff peaks and then beat in the icing sugar. Note: I added some green food colour but I think this is what caused the cream to go runny again so I would omit it in future.
4. Using a fork and your fingers, mix the green food colour into the dessicated coconut.
5. Dust a work surface with a little icing sugar and then roll out the yellow fondant icing till it is about 7mm thick. Cut out duck shapes using a cutter or just a knife. Use a little black fondant to make the eyes. Press the ducks onto cake pop sticks and leave them somewhere flat to dry out and go hard.
6. Using a garlic press, fill it with a ball of green fondant icing and push it through the holes to make the bits of grass. Leave them to dry and go hard.
7. Using a rolling pin, flatten the marshmallows and then using some scissors, snip them about five times around the edges so they look a little like petals.
How to Put the Cake Together
1. Using a bread knife, slice the cake into 3 layers. Spread the buttercream on the bottom and middle layer and stack the layers back together again.
2. Spread the cream over the top and sides of the cake.
3. Cover the sides of the cake and the outside of the top of the cake (going about 3-4cm in) with the green dessicated coconut.
4. Spoon some of the green jelly into the middle of the cake.
5. Put some of the fondant grass on the dessicated coconut, around the edge of the green jelly.
6. Stick the ducks into the cake.
7. Put some marshmallow flowers around the bottom of the cake.
I am linking this to Love Cake at JibberJabberUK. The theme is Colour Me Pretty. I am also linking it to Honest Mum‘s Tasty Tuesdays, hosted this week by Misplaced Brit.