The first question I probably need to answer here is – why bake your way through the Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book? The answer, most realistically, is ‘just because’.
Australian media’s gone a bit nuts recently with the news that a group in Canberra will be baking every cake in the book to put on display, and ultimately auction off for charity. This had me digging through mum’s collection of old cook books (recently relegated to a cupboard due to non-use, but still too sentimental to get rid of) to find our own copy of the book. I know that the book’s been reprinted several times since its 1980 publication, but a closer inspection of our copy reveals that this particular one would have been bought around 1988 – long before the somewhat questionably designed Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and Minney Mouse cakes were removed for copyright infringement.
The inscription in the front of our book seems to reveal that this was a ‘welcome to the world’ gift when I was born, and the fact that I have photographic evidence of me and my Humpty Dumpty cake for my first birthday would back up that fact.
As a kid I loved this book. Who am I kidding? I still love it. I would happily sit down with it and pour over the pages, choosing my favourites and judging the cakes I didn’t like. My nana, a semi-pro cake decorator (who made wedding cakes on her kitchen table), was always responsible for bringing my AWW Cake Dreams to life, and through the years I know my siblings and I enjoyed Hickory Dickory Dock, Humpty Dumpty, Little Piggy, at least a few of the Numbers, the Pirate, Dolly Varden, and the Piano.
I’m looking forward to re-creating some of these cakes, as well as having a crack at the ones that never made it to my own birthday parties. Reading this book properly last week for the first time, I have come to appreciate the technical and engineering feats that some of these cakes are. Just because it’s AWW don’t mean it’s easy – stand by for some fantastic Cake Wrecks!!