Ballerina and Batman Party

Isn’t that the most wonderful theme for a gorgeous little girl’s 6th birthday party.  Precious little Becky (my Godson Jamie’s sister) knows what she wants.  Got to love the finite decisions of this adorable youngster plus her insight of not wanting the boys to be left out with just a Ballerina theme.

Becky invite

The party invite – I removed the address and telephone details for privacy

Can’t believe it was a month ago we celebrated Becky’s 6th birthday and I am only sharing it with you now.  Pete was home that week so was able to join me for the trip to Plett to visit with family and attend this awesome birthday party.  It was a special and fun weekend.

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While all the final preparations for the party were under way, I snapped a few shots for the memory coffers.  Becky 6 bday  33

Becky was very happy to do a photo shoot in the garden and it seems brother Jamie also wanted in on the action, especially seeing as he was using every antic in the book not to get out of his pj’s. 🙂
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Breakfast consisted of some yoghurt and a couple of chocolates thrown in for good measure.  You got to love birthday party day preparations.

The birthday cake was a perfect and exquisite combination of the theme Ballerina and Batman.  The top half was a wonderful vanilla,the bottom half a decadent chocolate.

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Even Bonnie dog was adorned with decorations.  At one stage she even had a tutu on.Becky 6 bday  90The gift table quickly filled up with beautifully wrapped presents for the birthday girl.

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Becky had a splendid day with her friends and they all enjoyed playing pass the parcel, statues aka the freezing game, arts and crafts, creating masterpieces in the sandpit and bouncing on the trampoline.

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Love you all, high as the sky.

I hope we will be able to enjoy Becky’s birthday with her next year.  I cannot wait to find out what theme she will choose.


Lando’s Daughter’s Birthday Cake

Lando is our deaf handyman / gardener who takes wonderful care of our home and garden every week.

Lando only became deaf as an adult and has adapted to being deaf as if he was born that way.  He reads lips perfectly and we are still in the stop start throws (when time allows) of learning sign together.  We have created a few of our own signs to better communicate with each other for the days when my Afrikaans and his English aren’t quite on the same page.

Lando's daughters cake

Lando asked if I would bake his daughter a birthday cake for her second birthday.  He said he didn’t want those little things that I like making (cupcakes), he wanted one big cake.  So not knowing which cake recipe would be best as I make all of them into cupcakes, I decided to use the one I converted last which was the dairy free recipe, you know, my new favourite recipe.  I made a double portion and was thrilled with the result even though I probably turned the cakes out a wee bit soon and left a morsel of the centre of the cake at the bottom of the baking tin.  Oops.

Only problem I had was when it came to the icing – I wanted princess pink for this little 2 year old but alas it kinda came out orangeish which did not sit well with my OCD issues but time did not  allow to remake the icing plus there was barely any time to ice the cake before it had to get whisked off to the birthday girl.  I wonder if it is because my food colouring is getting old?

No matter, all’s well that ends well and the cake was a hit!

Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book – Part 15

Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book – Part 15

With all of us getting organised for the holiday festivities and baking preparations – there is always more baking down over the holidays, I thought it apt to share the chapter on cakes.

The chapter on Cakes reads:

“Whether it’s a blue ribbon at the fair or appreciate ah’s from the family, a perfect cake wins approval enough to give its creator a warm glow of pride.  And what is a perfect cake?  Why, everybody knows.

To begin with, the perfect cake looks right – whether round or square or loaf-shaped, it’s the shape it was meant to be, without cracks or humps or dismal depressions.  The crust is golden brown, not burned but thin and crisp.  And when you cut into it, you find it’s feathery light (unless it’s a fruit cake, meant to be freighted with goodies), and moist and mellow, with a texture like velvet.

Everybody knows a good cake, but not everybody can make one – that is the common opinion.  Aunt Jane just as a knack, Mrs. Green has a gift for it, other people have good luck.  Actually, of course, you don’t need gifts or luck, but the right equipment, including good recipes, and a laboratory degree of accuracy in doing what the recipes tell you to do.

Cake-making is a game you play by the rules.  Try to cheat the recipe ever so little, and it’s likely to make a big difference; or at least enough to explain why your last cake was almost too solidly independent, why today’s attempt turns sulky and clings to the pan.  These variations in temperament aren’t due to a witch in the oven, but – perhaps – to measuring cups and spoons that aren’t standard.  Or do you fail to sift before you measure?  Perhaps you thought that a foolish direction?  But flour, especially cake flour, packs down under its own weight.  Unless you sift first, you cup holds more, and that little more may ne the cause of coarse-textured cake with a cracked top and a tough crust.

Then it may be that you aren’t a good mixer of cake batter; you may beat at the wrong time.  Beating should be done before the dry and liquid ingredients are combined. After that decisive step is taken, stir gently to blend but don’t beat unless the directions actually specify beating or you may have a coarse, dry cake with tunnels.

What it all comes to is this: you can make a good cake if you try.  Give the matter your very best attention – it’s worth it.

Cake Pans

Correct size and shape of baking pan is important.  The capacity of the pan is exactly right when the baked cake fills the pan but does not bulge at the rim.  Some cakes are more adaptable than others and may be baked in various types of pans, with suitable adjustments in baking temperature and time.  Generally speaking, thin layer cakes and sheet cakes are baked at a higher temperature for a short time, to prevent drying out.  Thicker cakes require lower temperature and longer baking time to insure even baking throughout.

Prepare the pans before mixing the cake.  For butter cakes only the bottom of the pan should be greased.  Better volume is obtained if the sides of the pan are very lightly greased or not at all.  A piece of waxed paper cut to fit the bottom of the pan may be placed in the greased pan if desired; the top of the paper need not be greased. Pans for sponge cakes should not be greased at all unless the cake is to be baked in layer pans or a sheet pan, when the pan should be greased on the bottom only and lined with waxed paper.  Do not fill pans more than two-thirds full.”

This lovely chapter is packed full and talks about selection of ingredients from flour to leavening, shortening, sugar, eggs and liquids with very specific instructions on how to mix and bake your cake and how to cut a cake for a crowd, with graphics on how to cut a tiered (traditionally a wedding) cake.  There is even a paragraph on caring for your cakes after baking and there are 50 pages of recipes for cakes and frostings.  My favourite part of this chapter is the 12 pages on cake decorating. 🙂

Beer Box Cake and Charity Work

Friends of ours belong to our local community police forum and recently the police held a talk at the school in the township with the catchy slogan “Do Sport and Stay Out of Court” – the youngsters need so much guidance away from crime so every little bit of help they can get the better.  Our friends Nick and Caz sponsored, made and supplied the cake while some of the juice was sponsored by Alpha Pharm for the 128 youngsters for after the talk – a treat that is like Christmas, their Birthday and Easter all wrapped up into one.

So when feeding the masses as it were, big cakes are necessary, hence the Beer Box Cake.  I had a taste of the last standing slice and it is a lovely light crumbed and moist sponge cake. 🙂

The second I took my camera out, the little ones came running – they love having their photo taken

One of the youngsters dogs follows him to school every day and waits to walk him home again and loves playing with the kids while they are on break

Grateful little hands

“Thank You”

3 Beer Box Cakes were baked for the 128 kiddies

Beer Box Cake

This cake is ideal for cutting into squares for functions and large parties as well as for cutting out shapes for birthday novelty cakes.


8 large eggs
750ml castor sugar
500ml boiling water
150ml sunflower oil
150ml cocoa
20 ml vanilla essence
815ml cake flour
30ml baking powder
5ml salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Staple the corners of the beer box and line with tinfoil and grease.
  3. Beat the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Blend in the remaining ingredients.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared box and bake for 35 minutes.
  6. Cool completely and ice as desired.

For a Vanilla Cake, adapt as follows:

Omit the cocoa
Add 125ml cake flour
Reduce the sugar to 625ml

The last piece just waiting to be eaten

Honey Cake

I have had this recipe typed and printed for what feels an eon but for some peculiar reason have not noted (very strange for me) where I got it from!  Please let me know if this recipe is yours as I would really like to give credit where credit is due.  I am positive I will remember when you remind me.  Update:  The mystery has been solved, I originally got this from Linda over at Fired UP Cooking SA.  Thanks Linda!

This cake is perfect served with a scoop of ice cream or custard and a nice strong cup of coffee and makes for the easiest dessert for after dinner with family  and friends.  The crumb is lovely and light and super soft and spongy.  I do not enjoy raw honey so was a little sceptical about enjoying this – well, it is scrumptious!  It may have something to do with heating the honey or I might just be growing out of not being able to eat raw honey – either way, I could comfortably enjoy two servings for pudding.

Honey Cake


1 cup self raising flour
½ cup sugar – I used brown
½ tsp salt
½ cup milk
1 egg
3 tbsp butter melted


1tbsp butter
3 tbsp honey


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Grease a small pie dish.
  3. Place all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir together with a wire whisk for 20 seconds until thick and creamy.
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie dish and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  5. While the cake is baking, melt the sauce ingredients together.
  6. Prick the cake all over and pour the sauce over.
  7. Serve warm or cold with ice cream or custard.

Vanilla Cake

Seems we aren’t getting away from the sweet things this holiday season.  This Vanilla Cake is the second last contribution I will make on the sweet side for a while, before moving onto a few cocktails.  It is a fabulously moist and light cake.  If you were looking for a chocolate cake, no problem, just replace 125ml of the flour with 125ml cocoa.

Vanilla Cake



6 eggs separated
375ml sugar
125ml oil
125ml boiling water
500ml cake flour sieved
25ml baking powder
2ml salt
10ml vanilla essence


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Beat the egg whites and sugar together until silky.
  3. Add the egg yolks and beat through.
  4. Add the oil and blend through.
  5. Add the boiling water and mix through.
  6. Add the flour and salt and mix through.
  7. Lastly add the vanilla essence and mix into the mixture.
  8. Pour the mixture evenly into two cake tins and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Once cooled ice the cakes with caramel or icing.

Submitted by:  Christine de Villiers, Port Elizabeth

Madeira Loaf

The Madeira cake was originally named after the wine, which was popular in England forever ago (19th century) and traditionally accompanied the cake.  However, today it is served with tea.  Either way, this lemon infused sponge cake reminds me of family afternoons around the kitchen table at my Nana’s house.

Madeira Loaf



½ cup butter
1½ cups flour
½ cup milk
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp lemon essence
½ teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C.
  2. Grease and flour a loaf tin.
  3. Place all the ingredients together in a bowl.
  4. Beat well for 3 minutes until smooth.
  5. Pour into the loaf tin and bake for 1 hour.


Submitted by:  Raë Smit, Pretoria

Cake tin size conversions

How often have we searched for a tape measure that shows inches and centimetres to correctly gauge the size of an inherited cake tin which we know is 8 inches but need to know how many centimetres it is.  Hopefully this guide will make things a bit easier.



Cake tin size conversions