Think back to when you were a child and celebrated your birthday. I’ll bet there was cake, and you can probably remember some of your favourite cakes as a child, right? I was obsessed with Sarah Lee Double Chocolate Gateaux and often had one of those for my birthday but I also remember very clearly when my mum baked several loaf cakes to make the shape of the number 14, decorated with chocolate icing. I have a feeling I remember a hedgehog cake with chocolate buttons when I was younger as well!
Some children aren’t lucky enough to get a birthday cake, for all sorts of reasons – money is tight, they are living in temporary accommodation without the facilities to easily bake a cake, their families have got a lot on their plate due to illness or disability or maybe the child is a young carer themselves and deserves a treat. Free Cakes for Kids is an organisation that links up local amateur cake makers to provide birthday cakes for underprivileged children and makes sure they get a homemade treat on their birthday, which makes them feel special.
I’ve written about Free Cakes for Kids before on my food blog Caroline Makes as I’ve been involved with the group for a little while. To find out if there is a local group in your town check out the website.
For a little while now my local group has been baking a cake once a week for an Age UK tea party at a residential care home. I was just about to go back to work after maternity leave (yes, there’s been a bit of a delay in posting this!) and knew I wouldn’t have much time to bake any more so signed up to do one of these as it fell nicely into my last week off when my daughter was doing half days at nursery, so I could bake the cake and deliver it while she was there.
I wasn’t doing any grocery shopping for the next few days and rather than make a special trip out (which is not as quick as it used to be before I had a one year old in tow) so decided if at all possible to use ingredients I already had at home. I knew I had an unopened bottle of elderflower cordial in the cupboard and that I had seen recipes for elderflower cake somewhere.
I made Lynn Hill’s elderflower cordial cake with white chocolate ganache from the original Clandestine Cake Club book – you can find part of the recipe online here though to see the whole thing you will have to buy the book!
I found it interesting that the cake itself doesn’t use butter; it seemed to give a light texture to the finished cake but of course I didn’t get to eat any as it was for Age UK!
The white chocolate ganache was a little tricky as first it was too thick to spread (I left it too long in the fridge) then it was too runny. I wasn’t happy with the finish and decided I needed to decorate it but not in a way that would be too time consuming.
I loved the idea of piping ‘hello’ on the cake, since this was for a tea party and wasn’t a birthday cake, so I used some melted milk chocolate and a tiny piping bag. I then got out my special flower piping nozzles that make beautiful shaped petals of different kinds – you don’t have to have any special piping skills as the nozzles do all the work! The purple flowers were a bit darker than I would have liked as I used a bit too much food colouring but overall I was happy with the effects and hope the residents of the care home enjoyed their cake!
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