In which a cake nearly breaks my heart but turns out well in the end.

how this…

The elder child went and turned 4. Despite my protests that I’m only about 20 I appear to have 2 cats and 2 sons and am Quite Grown Up really. So it was about time we bit the bullet and hosted a party for him and his buddies from Montessori. For birthdays so far we’ve stuck with family affairs except for his 3rd where I was so busy feeding a small baby I was never going to entertain anyone at home. The young lad had a little party in playschool surrounded by friends and everyone was happy. Honestly I think parties could be banned til age 5 at least and kids wouldn’t really notice.

…became this.  This is Bucky.
(image courtesy of

The other small boy is a different affair because he has a July birthday so we got to go to the park for his 1st birthday and invite absolutely everyone we wanted with kids to come along because we didn’t have to squish them in our tiny house or clean up afterwards.

In preparing for this party, I felt by turns a complete mug and then very proud of myself.   A mug, because I could just go and buy party food for probably the same or less money than I spent on ingredients.  But then I realise I like it, and I want to bake for my kids parties, I want them to see me do that for them (entirely selfish but they may remember it some day fondly).

I was never a big baker, and some people ask me admiringly where I find the time what with working full time and all that – leftovers often go to the office.  I may be misrepresenting myself – I don’t actually bake that often.  Basically, how I do it is that I don’t go out very much ever anymore.   It’s not possible for a couple of reasons – financial, and because my husband is out a few evenings each week and the thing with kids is you can’t leave them alone in the house.  There’s only so much tv you can watch, so I started to bake a wee bit.

Ideally I would have asked Dominic what cake he wanted for his birthday, but I wouldn’t trust him not to change his mind umpteen times.  I saw that Sinead on Bumbles of Rice does this, and it’s there I got the pirate ship inspiration.

Making the cake shape was actually grand.  A giant roasting tin rectangle became a ship surprisingly easy.  See!  One half makes the base, the other half makes the raised parts.  I left my cake overnight before I carved it, and it cut way easier.

a ship! honest!

Now, the icing.  Oh lord.  I did a crumb coat.  I cursed. I wailed,  I nearly threw the cake on the floor.  The cake felt like it was just peeling off when I tried to attach any icing to it. (Clean) hands were the best thing in the end for sort of smearing the icing on.  The only other time I’ve done a crumb coat it was easy peasy so I think I was lucky that time and that maybe this kind of thing requires quite a bit of practise.

Once the crumb coat was done, and chilled slightly, icing the rest of it was far easier.  I used a fork to keep all the splodgey sections of icing together, and to create some semblance of a deck.   I  was pretty pleased with how it all came together in the end, and I’m glad to report that the cake, and the icing was really tasty. I had about a third of the icing left, so I’ve frozen that which I think is okay to do.

The finished product
  • Bucky’s sail was this printable I found, and printed twice (colour printer in the office is handy!).
  • I bought sour apple rings and long red thingys from Haribo in the euro shop for portholes and a slide (for Bucky has a slide, dontcha know).
  • Chocolate fingers made the whole structure more stable.
  • I got chocolate coins in Aldi for gold doubloons which are very important in Jake & The Neverland Pirates – and used an Octonauts toy treasure chest to store some.
  • I decorated with smarties, because Sinead had and why wouldn’t you?
  • One thing I did want to add but totally ran out of time for was some piped yellow buttercream around the edges, to make it more like actual Bucky.  The kids did not care a damn though I can tell you that.  What they did care about was that the sweets were distributed evenly to them once the cake was cut.

So here’s to my big boy.  The one I started this blog for 3.5 years ago.  One of the two now who fills my heart and makes me laugh and think and question and love.  My gorgeous Dominic.  Aged Four.

I’m four, and I have a new obsession.


Aside: The successful crumb-coating endeavour was on this rainbow cake I made for Ted’s 1st birthday in the park:

9 thoughts on “In which a cake nearly breaks my heart but turns out well in the end.

    1. I made Jake – ikea pyssla ironing beads, and an app that turns a picture into a pattern… The lack of nuanced colours means that Jake’s skin tone is a bit orange – my other choices were stark white and chocolate brown, orange seemed like the happy medium.

      Yep, I’ve made a rod for my own back. They’ll discover soon mama doesn’t do sugar paste I’m sure.


  1. A. This is brilliantly written, B. In a million years I could not make that cake, you are amazing, I never go out and I do not have that skill, C. I’m glad my children weren’t at the party to witness your skill but happy, happy birthday to your boy anyway!


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