Birthdays are a big deal in our house, I love them, love the parties and most of all love making the cakes. Cakes for kids are fun, they don’t need to be perfect, but have to have a wow factor. Ciarán turned 4 last week, but we have been talking birthday cake since around Easter. This isn’t unusual, last year after Christmas Day Mass he told us what he wanted from Santa for his “4 Christmas” and we’re now fully booked until his “11 Christmas”. He gets the forward planning gene from me. Initial discussions considered a rocket spaceship and I had the blueprint all worked out when he changed his mind and it was definitely to be a Castle, or more specifically a Knight’s Castle, so I got planning, googling, obsessing and searching on Pinterest and in some lovely kiddie cookbooks before abandoning all and coming up with my own plan.
I made an 8″ square cake and 2 6″ sponge sandwiches, I iced them all together, used white chocolate dipped cones as turrets and decorated. Here’s the recipe. Obviously it can be any type of castle, not just a Knight’s one, in fact, I’m not even sure Knight’s have castles at all. It is perfectly fine to use this recipe as a King’s or Queen’s Castle, a Princess’ Castle or even a plain old anybody’s castle.
Knight’s Castle Birthday Cake Recipe
I’ve used the same recipe for Ciarán’s cake the last two years, its from the Easy Food Kids’ Cookbook, but any heavy sponge or madeira mixture would work well. I’ve tripled the quantities as you’re making three cakes
For the Cakes:
375g butter (at room temp)
650g caster sugar
900g self raising flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
Jam (I prefer strawberry)
Blue fondant icing or blue sweets (for the moat)
3 malted milk (or rectangular plain) biscuits (for the drawbridge and windows)
Smarties or Jellytots
2 chocolate fingers (what will you do with the rest of the packet?)
4 waffle cones (and beakers to stand them in)
1 200g white chocolate
Sprinkles or Polka Dots
Plastic knights (try a euroshop, I got mine on Amazon)
Jelly snakes or crocodiles (to swim in the moat)
For the buttercream icing:
650g icing sugar
Food colouring (I used baby blue colouring paste, it works better than liquid food colouring if you want a strong colour)
Preheat oven to 180c. Grease and line a 8″ square tin and 2 6″ round tins.
Cut the butter up small, beat the butter and sugar in a stand mixer until fluffy and creamy and very pale in colour.
Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Sieve the dry ingredients and mix in to the mixture, followed by the milk.
When the cakes are done turn out onto a wire tray to cool. You can’t decorate until they are completely cool, I usually cook the cake one day and decorate the next morning.
While the cake is cooling make the buttercream (or you can do this while it’s baking either, I’m not fussy).
This time I cheated and used a readymade artificial buttercream from the Cake Creator, a local cake shop. It was very handy but I wouldn’t use it again and would revert to good old buttercream. You’ll need lots, but it never goes to waste and any leftover can always go on the party buns.
You just sieve the icing sugar and beat it with the butter for an age in your mixer until it’s all combined and gorgeously fluffy. At that stage add the food colouring and mix well again to distribute evenly.
I put jam between the round layers first then I placed them on top of the square layer and started slathering buttercream all over. It’s hard to get it smooth but it’s for a four year old so there’s not too much pressure. When completely covered get your chocolate covered waffle cones and place them on the four corners of the square cake, pressing them firmly so that they stay in place but taking care not to break them. Surround the cake on the plate with blue fondant icing or blue sweets to give the impression of a moat. Use the biscuits as the door and drawbridge, the chocolate fingers as the ropes holding the drawbridge (secure them with buttercream). Break the third biscuit and use as windows. Decorate the rest liberally with jellytots or smarties. If using smarties leave them til the last minute as they can bleed. (See where my smarties from some of the photos had to be replaced with jellytots)
Add a few knights as a finishing touch and the (specially requested) jelly snakes and crocodiles in the moat. Candles optional.