When I asked my son what cake he wanted for his third birthday, he told me a smiley face cake. After the choo choo train cake from last year, my first thought was “Woohoo! Too easy!”. I didn’t know whether to believe him, so I asked him a few more times, and it was always the same (actually, it became “a chocolate smiley face cake with Smarties!”)
Note: Australian/Canadian Smarties that are a bit like M&Ms, not the US-style Smarties
Since we got home from visiting my family the day before his birthday, I made and froze a simple chocolate cake ahead of time and just had to decorate on the day. It’s an easy recipe, but the cake is wonderfully moist and with a nice richness.
Icing was a standard buttercream, using Wilton gel colouring. It turned out a little more orangey than I would have liked, but not too bad. I’m also hopeless at getting buttercream smooth, so I fluffed it up a bit (to make it look like my son’s Mr Happy stuffed toy…hmmm, clutching at straws?). I used large Cadbury buttons for the eyes and cut a strip of Willy Wonka Fabulicious Raspberry Twister for the mouth (tastier than liquorice!).
My son loved it (but then, what 3 year old doesn’t love cake)!
Here’s the recipe for the chocolate cake (from Australian Women’s Weekly Kids’ Party Cakes):
1 1/3 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)
125g (4 1/2oz) butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
2/3 cup water
1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease and line a 20cm (8”) round cake pan. (I only line the base of the pan, but shhh, don’t tell anyone!)
2. Sift flour and cocoa into the bowl of a stand mixer (or a medium bowl if using a handheld mixer).
3. Add all the other ingredients to the bowl and mix on low until the ingredients are combined (to avoid a flour and cocoa storm!). Increase the speed to medium and beat for a few minutes, until the mixture starts to turn a lighter colour. Scrape the bowl with a spatula a few times (if your mixer doesn’t scrape the sides of the bowl well, like mine!).
4. Pour mixture into the prepared pan and bake for approximately 40 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean).
5. Leave the cake to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Then decorate!
I have no idea how he managed to get so much icing on his hand (and then his shirt…).