Basic buttercake: Dubious Decoration

So I cook and cook well. I bake awesome desserts, slices, cakes, biscuits. I make bloody good jam. I have mastered most breads and forms of pastry.

But this cooking Superwoman has her kryponite. Behold:

Thomas the Effing Engine cake
Scary Thomas
Chocolate layer cake
structurally unsound
rocket cake
Penis cake, resplendent with balls
rocket cake 2
Anatomically correct
rocket 3
Rocket v2
Rocket 4
should have learnt from past structurally unsound incidents
Lego cake
Lego cake that looks like it’s been through a lawn mower


Yeah, me and themed cakes never end well.

For Grover’s actual birthday on Monday I was making a simple delicious buttercake with lemon icing. But I was tired (remember, an epic weekend which I’ve just realised I haven’t told you about) and when my beautiful, simple, buttercake came out of the oven Grover collapsed on the floor wailing he’d wanted a lego cake. I too my eye off the prize people, making the rookie mistake of not distracting, reminding, reassuring that there’d be a poorly constructed ugly ode to food colouring themed cake* at his party this Sunday. No. Instead I did this:

Lego cake 2
He’s asked for a Tardis shaped cake for Sunday…

But look, that cake creation may be so far below par but the cake, the cake is awesome.

This is a simple, plain, delicious buttercake. It’s perfect for birthday cakes you just want to eat or need to turn into a dinosaur, fairy, clocktower or, God help me, the Tardis. I’ve made this the traditional way – beat the butter and sugar, add the eggs etc – and the throw caution to the wind way  – put it all in a food processor and blend until all combined and pale. I know, every time I do it like that I feel like cackling and shouting FRAUD but it works. Goddammit it works.

Traditional buttercake

  • 250g butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups SR flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line a 24cm springform cake tin
  2. Cream butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, incorporating well after each one
  4. Fold in the flour, milk and vanilla
  5. Pour into the cake tin and bake 40-45 minutes or when cake bounces back to gentle touch and has pulled away from the cake tin

Now, you can either top it with melted butter and lashings of cinnamon sugar (I KNOW) or ice it with your choice of icing. That debacle up there was iced with my bog standard lemon icing – icing sugar (2 1/2 cups?), softened butter (about a dessert spoon) and lemon juice until it’s at a good consistency.



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  • when you have a spare moment you can check out my echidna cake. So bad that it is great.

    I can’t cook well, but I have been trying really hard on birthday cakes with some good results this year – ok, two cakes, but that’s a start.
    Claireyhewitt recently posted..Other bloggers write great stuff: 4 things you might like.

  • I think cake decoration and cookery inhabit two entirely different regions of the brain. I, unfortunately, can only decorate. My family survive at a subsistence level.

    Can your cake be cupcaked?

  • Laura

    Thomas?… What is Scary Thomas?…. As I scrolled down I GOT it and could not stop laughing. You are the best!

    And yes, I want to hear about the epic weekend.
    Hmmm, just realized I am cooling boxed brownies. 4 boys and you bake! No words.

    • There have been MANY Scary Thomas cakes, years of them in fact, this was just the pinnacle.

  • Megan

    This is without a doubt the funniest post I have ever read on the internet. Can’t wait to see the Tardis cake. Good luck.

    ps. all masters must have one weakness and you are right this is it, Sensei Kim

  • Hey, at least you make themed birthday cakes. I’ve never been game.
    Frogdancer recently posted..Important notice!!!

  • jac

    Your lemon icing is my lemon icing! Only I don’t even bother with butter. Good on bananana cake.
    My mum used to make us a cake from the Women’s Weekly cookbook every year. I’m considering buying the new version and ripping out the pages that look too hard.

  • Your cakes have brought much laughter this morning, as did Claire’s. You can both star in my new reality tv show, Cake Dross.

    PS – I can only say that because I know what a brilliant cook you are. I read those food posts.
    Rachel @ The Kids Are All Right recently posted..The cost of raising teens, and when teen love dies (weekly wrap)

  • Just peed the bed looking at the cake creations. Most funny: looking over the shoulder at collapsed rocket. They will be family mythology in years to come…
    Rakster recently posted..Another birthday and a robot cake adventure

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  • My baby is almost 9 months old. I CAN’T WAIT to make her first cake…
    Reemski recently posted..The Arrival