My little baby is T-W-O! How did that happen? Not long ago I was carrying home my little baby boy home from the hospital now I struggle to even carry this 15kg/33lb future front row rugby star (actually I’m secretly hoping he takes up tennis, golf or soccer, something that’s not going to give a mother so much grey hairs).
Henry, Henz, Harry, Haz, Hazza, Hazamataz Happy Birthday!
Construction site cake (recipe below).
Brunch for grown-ups and kids.
Henry, or Harry as we generally call him, is obsessed with anything that ‘goes’. Trucks, diggers, trains, planes, boats, fire trucks, police cars are seriously cool in our household right now. I asked Harry what type of party he wanted and immediately he said ‘choo choo train’ and it was set. We picked out a cake shaped like a train and he was very excited about the prospect of a train party. Then his big brother had a Batman party….
“What type of party do you want Harry?”
Just in case there’s any confusion, Batbar is what Harry call’s Batman. He got his Aunty Belinda quite excited about the prospect of a bar at the party and she declared him a genius, until I translated!
So trains were no longer cool and Batman was in. As you would expect from a fickle toddler, this wore off pretty quickly too because strangely Harry really is more of a Joker fan than Batman and I suspect he just wanted a Batman party to be like his big bro. So I asked him again.
“What type of party do you want Harry”
It was settled. A digger party. Over the following weeks I got quite an education in construction vehicles and I can now identify backhoes, excavators, wheel loaders, dump trucks, forklifts and dozers. Who knew I would be picking up all these priceless skills as a Mum of two boys? We had fun going to the hardware store and picked out tape, hardhats and construction signs to decorate the house for the party. Then invited our closest friend’s with kids the same age as him and our family. I wanted to keep the party small. Well, turns out our closest friends and family equates to 29 people….at our very small house…half of them under five…in the middle of a very wet winter. Eeeek!
Well, we were blessed with a sunny day, kids and adults had a wonderful time and it really didn’t feel over crowded at all. Harry had a blast then absolutely crashed like a cute little puppy at the end!
Playing Pass the Parcel with friends and cousins.
Dancing with Daddy.
The little guy has crashed! Too much excitement.
Here’s what we did:
Construction Site Cake (see recipe below)
This cake is always a winner with adults and children. My husband has even declared it his all time favourite chocolate cake and I have to make it every year for his birthday without fail! It’s not sickly sweet like many children’s cakes are, instead it’s a delicious balance of dense chocolate cake, chocolatey ganache filling and light and creaming Swiss meringue buttercream frosting. If you haven’t made SMB frosting before, don’t be daunted, follow my steps below and it won’t fail! You will need a standing electric mixer and candy thermometer for it.
Decorate your own Digger shaped Cookie (I purchased a digger shaped cookie cutter, made plain gingerbread cookies and gave store-bought icing tubes and sprinkles to the children to decorate themselves)
Pass the Parcel
Best Dancer Competition
All the games where suitable for young and older kids
Yellow and Black Balloons
‘2’ Balloon and Light Up Light
Construction Themed Invitations and Napkins
Construction/Building Site Tape from hardware store
Construction Site Signs
Kids took home a little bag with a Construction vehicle and chocolate covered raisins and Maltesers in it
Menu for Kids:
Cheerios (mini sausages) – surprisingly so popular!
Mini Cheese Muffins
Brunch Menu for Grown Ups:
Toasted Mini Bagels with Cream Cheese, Smoked Salmon Pastrami, Capers and Dill
Toasted Mini Bagels with Cream Cheese, Strawberry Jam and Freeze Dried Strawberries
Petit Pain au Chocolats
Coffee, Tea, Sparkling Water
In case you’re curious, here’s what we did for Henry’s First Birthday.
Kid's Chocolate Construction Site Cake
A favourite chocolate cake that appeals to kids and adults alike. The cake is cut out to look like a quarry with construction vehicle toys placed on top - this is an easy cake to decorate for your child’s next birthday party!
For the cake:
- 2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cup + 3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups caster sugar
- 2 large free-range eggs
- 1 1/4 cups strong coffee, cold (I use decaf for children)
For the ganache filling:
- 200 g/7oz dark chocolate (at least 50 percent solids, but I prefer 70 percent, chopped)
- 2/3 cup cream liquid
For the chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream:
- 1 1/4 cups caster sugar
- 5 large free-range egg whites
- 340 g/ 3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature and chopped into roughly 1cm/1/2in cubes
- 255 g/9oz chocolate (at least 50 percent solids, but I prefer 70 percent, melted and cooled)
- handful Momofuku milk bar chocolate crumbs (link for recipe in instructions below)
- a few handfuls of chocolate coated raisins, to look like boulders, chocolate coated honeycomb (to look like boulders), Maltesers (to look like boulders), chocolate finger biscuits (to look like logs), and mini-construction vehicle toys
For the cake:
Preheat oven to 180C/350F on bake. Grease and line 2 x 20cm/8in round cake tins.
In a large bowl, sift or whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a small bowl, mix together sour cream, vanilla extract and almond extract. Set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment cream together butter and sugar on medium high speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time ensuring that each one is fully incorporated after each addition. If the mixture looks like it has curdled or split, add a tablespoon of flour mixture.
Add 1/3 flour mixture and mix until incorporated. Add 1/2 sour cream mixture and mix, followed by 1/3 flour mixture, remaining sour cream then last 1/3 flour mixture.
Gradually pour in coffee and mix until combined.
Divide batter between two tins and place in oven for 40 min or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake.
Allow cakes to cool for 10 min in their tins before turning out and allowing to cool fully on a wire rack.
For the ganache filling:
Place chocolate in a heat proof bowl. Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until bubbles are forming around the edge of the cream.
Pour cream over chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes.
Stir until fully mixed, glossy and smooth.
Allow to stand at room temperature (or in the fridge for hot climates) until the mixture has thickened and is of a spreadable consistency.
For the frosting:
Place a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Add sugar and egg whites to the bowl.
Whisk until sugar has dissolved and temperature reaches 60C/140F on a candy thermometer. This ensures that the eggs have been pasteurised making them safe for children and pregnant women to eat.
Transfer egg and sugar mixture the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk on high until the mixture is cool (feel the bottom of the bowl with your hand to check), about 7-10 min.
Change to a paddle attachment and reduce speed to medium-high. Slowly add butter a few cubes at a time. It helps to remember that you are trying to create an emulsion here (like making mayonnaise) so you don’t want to add the butter too fast. Continue adding until all the butter has been incorporated. Be aware that at some point near the end of adding the butter the mixture will look quite strange, almost curd-like, then it will magically turn to a smooth, pillowy buttercream consistency. If yours looks like scrambled egg (mine has done this many times) see notes for troubleshooting.
Gradually add cooled chocolate until fully incorporated.
Level cake if necessary by cutting off the domed tops. Halve each cake horizontally using a serrated knife or cake leveller.
Reserve 2 Tbsp ganache mixture. Place a cake half on a cake stand or cake board and top with 1/3 ganache mixture. Top with next cake half and 1/3 ganache mixture, followed by another cake half, remaining ganache then top with final cake layer. Place in the refrigerator for 15 min if required to firm up the cake.
Using a small serrated knife or paring knife, cut out a big chunk of the cake to make it look like a quarry. You can be as messy as you like with this because we will be covering it up with frosting. Smear 2 Tbsp ganache on top of cake then place the piece of cake you just cut out upside down to the ganache to look like a hill on top of the cake.
Cover the entire cake in a thin layer of frosting. It doesn’t matter if you get crumbs in it, you most likely will, because we will be covering it will another layer of frosting. Refrigerate for 15 min to firm up.
Cover the entire cake in remaining frosting, you can be a little messy if you like to make it look like dirt and rocks.
Sprinkle chocolate crumbs around the cake to look like dirt. Place construction vehicles around the cake then sprinkle over chocolate raisins, honeycomb, fingers and Maltesers to look like boulders.
Cake is best eaten on the day but unfrosted cakes will keep overnight in an airtight container and frosted cake will keep up to 3 days. I made this cake the day before and it was delicious and fresh on the day.
If your SWB looks like scrambled egg then it has curdled most likely because your butter was too cold when you added it or it was added too quickly and you don't have a successful emulsion. The best thing to do at this point is to take approximately 1/4 of your mixture and transfer it to a microwave proof bowl. Microwave for a few seconds until it is the consistency of creamy soup. Add it slowly back to your original mixture beating as you go, the mixture should then emulsify and you will have smooth pillowy buttercream. For great troubleshooting visit The Polkadotter.
If you’re looking for some other delicious CAKES from My Little Larder then you may like: