Patt-a-cake, Patt-a-cake…


My Little Lion will be 2 on the weekend. I currently have a practise cake cooling on the rack. Go ahead and laugh, I’m not offended. If you could see what is sitting on the kitchen bench, you would understand.

Last year I made the fatal error of outdoing myself with his first birthday cake – you should have seen the piping on top! Masterchef eat your heart out! It was a lion, naturally, covered in shades of orange and brown icing, with a textured mane, chocolate nose and the cutest whiskers you’ve ever seen. It was a masterpiece. But now the bar has been set. WAY too high. And The Lion is destined to have a lion cake forever because I want my money’s worth out of that cake tin!

So this year, as I did last year, I have decided to practise. Fortunately, too.

I am a dreadful baker with an oven that is so inefficient it took an hour and a half to bake the cake that the packet said would take 50 minutes. Yes, it’s a packet cake, so shoot me! I considered the real deal for about 40 seconds before I visualised all that could go wrong. Alas, I was cocky after last year’s packet success and decided to get a bit creative.

The idea was to mix one packet vanilla cake and one packet chocolate cake, then stir it around with a skewer so it became marbled. No, it never occurred to me to buy marble cake mix. Sorry. And the marbling idea was not enough. No. I decided to throw in a few milk chocolate chips into the vanilla mix and white chocolate chips into the chocolate mix. Imagine the effect! A speckled, marbled, scrummy cake in the shape of a lion! A bit of two-tone icing, maybe some coconut and chocolate sprinkles… Genius!

So I greased that tin for all I was worth. Last year’s birthday cake stuck so badly, Mr D had to do a midnight run to Woolies for another two packs of butter cake because I was so frantic that he knew I wouldn’t sleep without a lion cake cooling on the bench. I learned my lesson. I poured the two bowls of mix in with extra care and swirled the two together. I licked the bowls with due diligence (ok, the spatula and egg beaters too, but let’s talk about my exercise and diet regime some other time). And into the oven it went.

I didn’t even burn it. I checked it with a skewer, like you’re meant to. And when it was ready, and only when it was ready, I took it out. It smelled DIVINE! and looked like Betty Crocker had baked it herself. I let it cool, as per directions, for five minutes. I pressed the sides gently to ensure it would just drop out of that well-greased pan. I tipped, gave a little jiggle and lifted the tin.


Wouldn’t budge.

Shook with a little more enthusiasm.


Shook and pressed edges simultaneously.




And there it was! Whole… except for the two centimetre layer that was still casing the bottom of the lion tin. That’s right, the part that makes the strange shape actually look like a lion because that’s where the mane and tail and paws and face and stuff are imprinted!


Actually, I lied about the “whole” bit too. The minute it was no longer held together by the tin, it fell apart into eight cakey chunks.

What went wrong?

You mean apart from the marbling that turned vanilla into a grey-looking mush because only after the event did I realise that they required two different baking times?

Or do you mean apart from the chocolate chips that sunk straight to the bottom and made a two centimetre thick smear of putty that couldn’t even be passed off as self-saucing pudding?

Gee, I don’t know.

I’m just glad I have a couple more days to practise.


One response »

  1. Could do what any busy mummy does (or me at least) and buy the buttercake but decorate it yourself… Then you’ve made it, just not literally the whole cake. Youve got a new baby too – cant do everything!!! P.S. You could drop the tin in for them to use too


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