Birthday cake: To bee or not to bee

03:36, Feb 21 2013
Cake 1
TALL TASK: Matt tackles a big buzzy bee cake for his three-year-old's birthday.
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INSPIRATION: The recipe came from Kiwiana Party Cakes- Fun Cakes for Fun Occasions by Rob Burns.
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OLD SCHOOL: Matt's mum made him a Para Pool cake when he was a wee one.
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HISTORY REPEATS: and he made the same one for Kahutaiki's second birthday.
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HERE GOES: So Matt set out to make the best bee birthday cake ever.
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TECHNICAL SKILLS: This required precision and perseverance.
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DEDICATION: Matt's second creation for play centre.
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END RESULT: And it all came together in the end!
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HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Kahutaiki loved her cake!

Lets just say, for most of us, the road to the perfect wee person's birthday cake is a somewhat stressful affair. It should be fun, and some of it is. But it's also a serious business because failure is not an option.

For Kahutaiki's 3rd birthday party last Saturday I was put to work to make the Buzzy Bee cake from Kiwiana Party Cakes - Fun cakes for fun occasions by pâtissier Rob Burns (Burns calls it Feel the Buzz).

Miss K chose this ridiculously hard-looking cake from what is a book of many ridiculously hard-looking cakes. So why do we as parents attempt something beyond our skill level and flirt with the possibility of miserable failure to indulge the wants of our toddlers?
Well, last year I made the Para Pool cake for her second birthday; the cake I remember my Mum making from my own childhood.

When I carried it out, the look on Miss K's face was one of wonderment, pure happiness and excitement. I don't think I'll ever forget that moment. I wanted to see that look on her face again this year.

The week before the big day, my head would hit the pillow to go to sleep, I'd close my eyes and all I would see was a tangled mess of soft icing, collapsing cakes and those two, massive, goofy bee-eyes staring at me. Last year I had the advantage of surprise. This time Miss K knew how the cake was supposed to look. "Oh hell", I thought. "This thing has to be a convincing replica."
Then the day before I was due to start making my masterpiece Miss K looked through the book again and declared that she wanted the Barbie Doll cake instead or "the sheep one".  This is after four weeks of hearing about nothing else but the Buzzy Bee cake!!!

My reply: "You're getting the Buzzy Bee cake!"

Apart from a bit of uncertainty about the shape the cake needed to be to achieve the perfect Buzzy Bee form, a bit of dodgy patch-work on the Bee's back-end, and some droopy liquorice antenna (which I fixed by inserting toothpicks) it all went well I think. The main thing was Miss K was suitably impressed with the result.

You should take heart from my experience; this was the first time I've used this rollable icing so if I can do this then anyone can. Actually making Buzzy Bee was a walk in the park compared to what happened in my cake nightmares.

The Monday after the party was Miss K's actual birthday.

She had Playcentre that morning and the tradition is to do a cake for all the kids to share before they go home. Yes, another cake! But by now I was getting confident and I needed to get rid of all the spare red icing I had. I went back to the trusty Kiwiana Party Cakes book and knocked out the Jaffa Giant.

Now a monster has truly been born!

Will I stop making cakes?

Can I stop? I guess time will tell.

Anyway, I'd like to see your triumphs (and abject disasters if you're happy to share them). Send in your best (or worst) birthday cake piccies to give me inspiration for next year. Email  We'll publish the best pics on the site.

Happy baking!


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