Sunday, 29 January 2012

Jungle Birthday Cake

Remember when I last made a birthday cake (the Tinkerbell number here) I talked about how I frustrate myself leaving everything to the last minute?  I stayed up til the early hours of the morning finishing the Tinkerbell cake and vowed that next time would be different.  

It wasn't.  I excelled myself this time (grrrr, not in a good way) and didn't start it until 7pm on Friday evening.  (The party was at lunchtime on Saturday.)  I beat my personal best and stayed up until 3am on Saturday, this time making monkey faces.  (Snorted with laughter to myself as I wrote that last line.  Sounds like I was up until three in the morning pulling faces.)

Want to see?

This cake was for my niece.  It was her birthday last week and she had her party yesterday.  My sister asked for a jungle-themed birthday cake and 20 cupcakes to match.

I was like a one-woman production line.  Leaving everything to the [very] last minute meant I had to be uber-organised.   My beloved KitchenAid mixer was pushed to its limits too:  making an 8" sponge a 5" sponge and two dozen cupcakes requires a lot of batter.  At one point it had a nine-egg mix in it but didn't make grumble once and happily got on with the job of mixing whilst I perched on my kitchen stool fashioning jungle animals from sugarpaste.

I was listening to ClassicFM the whole time (my radio station of choice when I want to listen to music but need to concentrate) but in my head I was singing a number of jungly songs.  Obviously I was singing The Lion Sleeps Tonight as I made this little chap.

Hey Hey, We're the Monkeys!  

Off she went with a trumpety trump. Trump! Trump! Trump!

Spot the lovely birthday bunting from Jooles? 
Before I stuck the ears on these monkeys looked as though they had afros.   Cue a lot of giggling and 'Jungle Boogie' singing/dancing by Drew and me.  (It was the early hours of the morning.  He stayed up to provide me with tea and moral support - we were getting delirious.)

And here are the cupcakes, all boxed up at the party, ready for the children to take home as party favours.  My sister made the decision to eschew the traditional 'loot bag' party favour thing and simply gave the children one of my monkey face cupcakes and a monkey-shaped balloon, which they all loved.  

(And off they all went, swinging their cupcakes around by the pretty ribbons...  deep breath, Nicki...)

My mum had a brief 'moment' at the party where she almost ran out to the shops for party bags (and plastic tat) after chatting to one of the mums who said to her "...and of course, you have to get the party bags just right, they're the most important thing of all...".  She came rushing into the kitchen (where I was making tea for the parents/gossiping with dad) all breathless and slightly panicky.  Poor mum; it was very funny though.  She had another 'moment' when one or two of the monkey-shaped balloons started to deflate prematurely.  'What are the children going to go home with?!' she hissed.

You know, there is so much pressure to do 'the right thing' and the children at my niece's party just had a bouncy castle and a few toys to run around playing with.  They all had a fab time and went home with rosy cheeks and droopy eyes.

There was only one casualty of the day.  Poor old Nelly:

The cake was displayed on a low table so that the children could see it.  Every single child immediately reached out for one of the animals but, as we all know, parents have lightening-fast reactions and managed to swipe little hands away.  One little boy's parents weren't quite quick enough... Ha!

I'm recuperating today with an afternoon in front of the fire with the Downton Abbey boxset and an easy chilli for dinner this evening.

Have a fab week! 



PS.  The cake was all made by me with the help of a great 'sleepy lion' tutorial by Lorraine McKay.  Lorraine also helped with the monkey faces.  Check out her website and her brilliant tutorials on youtube.  She rules (and has a lovely voice, too).   


  1. You are a GENIUS at cake decorating. I can't believe you can make expressive animal faces in sugar paste! Seriously, I am in awe.

  2. That is the most amazing cake I have ever seen, and I can't believe you did it in one night! I always leave it to the last minute too, but my creations don't turn out as good as yours!! XX

  3. Wooooah this looks great!
    I think giving a monkey cupcake and a balloon is much better than a goody bag with cheap sweets and gifts!
    You should own a cake shop xxx

  4. This is EPIC! I love the idea of cupcakes instead of a partybag. In the past I've had a luckydip at the end of the party so each child gets one small gift and a balloon to take home. Party bags can get quite expensive can't they?!

    It was my daighter's party today {she'll be 7 on Tuesday}. What with the wedding and my graduation, I hadn't done much in the way of planning! I managed to bake 4 cakes yesterday which were stacked and iced with plenty of pink buttercream! Not my most adventurous cake but the birthday girls seemed pleased :)

    Loveaudrey xxx

  5. Amazing! You clever girl you! lots of love juliexxx

  6. Oh my goodness, please adopt me and make my cakes!

  7. You are amazing!!! Those cakes are amazing!!!!
    Please tell me you also sang "Circle of Life" as you were making them????
    I love the idea of the cupcakes instead of party bags- adorable!!!
    I bet your sister and niece love you a lot!!!!
    (And not just for making the most awesome cupcakes ever!)

  8. Nicki,

    I can't believe you made that! I stand in awe and amazed. What a talent you have!


  9. Woah, those cakes are amazing! I won't be showing my children this post for fear they may expect similar from me from now on! You're a very clever bean indeed.
    Emily x
    PS - all hail the mighty KitchenAid - I went completely mad and bought myself a bright pink one just after my bday - I haven't stopped using it since - I'm expanding so fast if I stood still for long enough you'd actually be able to see it x

  10. I can't believe the amount of detail you went into, crazy amazing! The elephant even has eyelashes! I think she's my favourite :) I always had a soft spot for Nelly the elephant.

  11. Have just found your blog will really enjoy following you.Your cakes are amazing.Lesley

  12. Can't beat a bit of Classic FM, it's either that or Radio 2 in our house.

    Your cakes are just gorgeous, clever you, I know what you mean about making sure everything is right for a child's party but all the children want are to see their friends, have pressie's and enjoy some games and of course PARTY CAKE!! I bet your niece was over the moon with her cake and those individual cupcakes are so sweet and their little boxes.

    Have a great week hun x x x x x

  13. WoWEe! Nikki your are a cake making genius! it is absolutely stunning....poor ellie ;o(
    I don't know how you stayed sane at that time in the morning though!

    oh the red and white candies were a gift from my lovely american friend, she got her mum to send them over from the states as i had been going on about using them on my gingerbread house.
    you could probably get them online though.
    have a great week
    love jooles x

  14. Blimey! I don't know how you do it! I am in awe. If I attempted something like that it would be a COMPLETE disaster! Looks like a lovely party was had....hope you managed a good sleep after that night!

    Have a great week!

    Vanessa xxxxxxx

  15. Wowsers Nicki!!! This is just fantastically fan dabby dozey!! I am in awe. I bet your sister was thrilled and what a lovely memory for your niece as well. It was worth every minute of that late late late night! Well done you, you're soooo clever!!!

    Hope you have a lovely week x

    Jo x x x

  16. The cakes all look fab and I had great fun singing along while reading this post (especially hey hey, we're the monkeys) and no doubt will be singing those songs all day. Thanks Nicki :p x x x x

  17. what a beautiful cake, i love all the animals on it but i must admit the elephant is my favorite. angie xx

  18. What an amazing cake! You can see the huge amount of effort that has gone into every detail. Im sure your family was thrilled xxx

  19. WOW!!! Those cakes are amazinnggg!! I know you have another 'real' job but people would pay big money for cakes like that. Sooo much detail and everything looks just perfect, how upsetting that Nelly got her trunk ripped off... she looks like she's having a little cry!
    Do you buy pre-coloured fondant icing or colour it with paste?

    Ashley xxx

  20. I just love your cakes & cupcakes!!! They are wonderful!!! The children must have had a whale of a time : )
    I have just found out that we are partnered in Lissy Lou's Vintage Easter Swap!!
    I will have to do some serious research on your blog, to get a lovely package together, I can see!!

    Have a great week!

    Sharon xx

  21. truly amazing they are fantastic very professional looking even more so you did it over night wowww x

  22. Oh my goodness! This is absolutely incredible! YOU should be doing YouTube fact, you should come round and make all my children's cakes for me...and lots fro me too...every single day! ;-)


  23. blogger ate my comment!!!!! I said that I sang along too. You are very talented along with Cuckoo in the cake decorating dept, I cannot decorate for peanuts so feeling a tad envious :)
    xx Sandi

  24. Hi!

    I just found you,and and when I saw that you live in an old cottage and love Norfolk,I thought... I have to join your followers!
    Just off to have a good look back through your posts.
    Have a happy weekend and keep warm!

    Love Bellaboo X

  25. Wow, what a talent.

  26. These are the cutest cupcakes EVER :)

    The Other Side of Gray

  27. Hello! I've just come across your wondeful blog - WOW that cake and cupacakes are seriously amazing!! Absolutely beautiful - you are very, very talented! What a lucky little girl i bet she was chuffed to bits with it!

    I'm very new to the "blogging world" having created my blog only a few weeks ago, but already i'm completely hooked..perhaps drop by my blog if you have a spare moment...i'm looking forward to reading more of your blog very soon

    Marina x

    PS - sounds a perfect afternoon - i actually ordered the "Downton Abbey" boxset this afternoon! So i'm thinking of having a very similar Sunday this weekend x

  28. As i work opposite a cake shop every day, and get to see them decorating them, i thought i knew what a good decorated cake looked like. Turns out, I don't, because your jungle themed cake and monkey cupcakes trump them all! ('scuse the pun...couldnt resist!)

    The most incredible amazing work I have ever seen. :)

    And now I want to go and eat cake!

    emmalemonade x x

  29. Oh Wow! Love the jungle cake and the cupcakes..the sugarpaste animals are just adorable. I bet you niece was one happy birthday girl :)

  30. Wow!! That is just superb, well done! By the way just wondered if you had received your prize yet? Have a lovely weekend x

  31. I am in awe ..... what a fantastic cake, love the colour, love the animals (poor Nellie) and what a brilliant idea to box the cupcakes to take home. Pop over to my blog there is an award for you x

  32. Hi Nicki,
    Your cakes are absolutely stunning, as everyone has said! The animal faces!! Amazing. But I must ask, where oh where are those green cake stands from? I am in love with them!

  33. These are amazing! You should be really proud!


  34. These are amazing! You should be really proud!


  35. Hey...just stumbled across your blog and im loving it!!! xx

  36. WOW! This is amazing.. you have a real talent! xx