How To Make Easy Birthday Cakes

Birthday parties have become synonymous with extravagant birthday cakes. I’m constantly amazed at the number of families who spend a huge amount of money on having meticulously decorated cakes created for their child’s birthday.

Yes, birthdays should be celebrated but there are inexpensive ways of creating birthday cakes that will be a hit with the kids, and the adults alike.

Initially I started with the Women’s Weekly birthday cake books which are fantastic but as my children grew they started to request themes for their birthday cakes which couldn’t be found within the pages of these books. But I soon found an alternative that didn’t prove too difficult at all.

Here are my tips for creating an easy, but fun, birthday cake for your children:

Tip #1 Choose a simple cake recipe

The very first birthday cake I made for our eldest nearly six years ago was a simple butter cake recipe, with a chocolate variation. It takes only 15 minutes to prepare, and the recipe doubled cooks in an hour. I’ve also been able to adapt it simply for a gluten free version and one year I had to adjust the recipe so that it was egg, dairy and wheat free and it still worked! I still use it to this day for my children’s birthday cakes.

Tip #2 Make the cake ahead of time

Get this job done as early as you can. Often planning for a birthday party requires time management and baking the cake ahead of time is a simple way to reduce stress.

Tip #3 Freeze before cutting and icing

This was a tip my mother in law passed on very early on. If you are going to be cutting the cake into a shape when fresh it is hard to ice the cut edges. If you freeze the cake first, and then thaw it ready to ice it is much easier to spread the icing over the cut edges.

Tip #4 Most images can be cut from a rectangle

I learnt very early on that if you bake a rectangular cake you can cut just about any character or design out of it successfully. These days I draft up the cake design onto a sheet of A4 paper and use this as a guide. Basically you can draw or print your character/design onto an A4 page, cut around the shape and lay on the top of your cake as your cutting guide. Working from a rectangle means you can plan the way you cut out the cake and make the most of the extra areas.

Tip #5 Don’t aim for too much detail

Keep the icing and the decorations simple. You don’t want to be mixing up more than 5 colours of icing and having to purchase bags of lollies or decorations. This is time consuming and a waste of money. Choose a simple design with a few colours and a few simple extras. Smarties, snakes, and sprinkles are generally the best option and come in a variety of colours.

Here are a few examples of birthday cakes, all cut from rectangles:

Hoot and Hootabelle were actually cut from two square cakes. One was gluten free and the other was not.

IMG_0904 IMG_0903

Princess Jemima was cut from a rectangle and the off cuts were used to make her crown and arms.


The number 5 was probably the easiest cake I’ve made from a rectangle.


Peppa Pig was cut from a square cake and the off cuts used for limbs and her tail is just icing.


Igglepiggle was my first attempt at this style of birthday cake.


Hubby’s 30th birthday cake last year was the Sydney Swan’s mascot, also cut from a rectangle but this time banana cake. IMG_1717

Filed Under: ChildrenCooking Tips

About the Author: Emily is a former ACPA award winning editor and journalist turned stay at home mum and blogger. She lives on a farm in regional NSW with her husband and their five children where she spends the time she should be doing housework reading books and writing posts.

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