Image © malininaolga, under a Creative Commons license.
If your child is desperate for a fun birthday cake, why not surprise them with a ladybird birthday cake that knocks spots off your previous year's attempts?
This recipe for how to make a ladybird cake is easy to follow and using a cookie cutter means you get perfect spots for a professional finish. If you're feeling ambitious you could follow this recipe to make a series of mini cakes or cupcakes so everyone has their own individual insect treat to take home!
For the cake: 340g butter, 340g caster sugar, one teaspoon vanilla extract, six eggs, 340g self raising flour.
For the filling: 100g softened butter, two teaspoons vanilla extract, two tablespoons jam, 500g icing sugar, three tablespoons milk.
For the decoration: 500g ready to roll icing, red, 250g ready to roll icing, black, 50g ready to roll icing, white, liquorice sticks.
Equipment: large dome shaped cake tin, small round cutters, cooling rack.
1) Preheat the oven to 170C/150C fan/gas mark 3. Grease and flour your domed ladybird cake tin.
2) Mix the butter and sugar together, then add four eggs and half the flour. Mix until smooth. Add in the last two eggs, vanilla and the rest of the flour and stir well. Pour into the tin and bake for approx 45minutes. Check it's cooked by inserting a skewer into the centre of the cake. When it's done it should come out clean.
3) Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 30 minutes then remove and let it finish cooling on a wire rack.
4) Beat together the softened butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla and enough milk (or water if you prefer) to make a smooth consistency.
5) Cut the cake in half widthways and spread the jam on one side and a little of the butter cream on the other. Sandwich the cakes together and place on the cake board. Cover with the rest of the butter cream icing.
6) Roll out the red icing. Place it on top of the cake and gently smooth it downwards. Trim away any excess from the bottom of the cake board.
7) Roll out the black icing and use the cutters to make small dots. Brush the backs with water and fix to the ladybird. Use a knife to cut out an oval shape for the face and fix in the same way, using a small brush to dab on the water. Cut out two small black circles to use as pupils.
8) Roll out the white icing and cut out two round circles for the eyes. Fix them, first wetting their backs, then attach the black pupils on top. Poke two short lengths of liquorice sticks under the face for the antennae.
9) Finish by rolling out six sausage shapes from black icing and attaching them between the bug cake and the cake board for the legs. You can also use this method to make the antennae if you prefer.
Tips And Recommendation:
If you run out of black icing for the pupils for the eyes you could use chocolate buttons. Get them to stick by applying a tiny blob of melted chocolate.
You should be able to find coloured, ready to roll icing in the shops but if not buy white and the necessary food colouring. Just make sure it's well mixed so the colour is consistent.
Not everyone likes ready to roll icing and it is possible to make this recipe with a butter cream. Make up a batch of red butter cream and cover the cake with it. Use chocolate buttons for spots, positioning a few in a group to make the face.
You can also make ladybird cakes with open wings. Use the recipe to bake two round cakes. Cover one in chocolate icing, and the other in red icing. Cut the red cake in half and sit on top of the chocolate cake slightly spread apart like two wings. Now add your spots. To make the head, use buttercream to stick two cupcakes to the front and decorate with eyes.
You can also make a batch of ladybird cupcakes for a birthday cake surprise. Top each with a small fondant ladybird topper which you can craft yourself with red icing and a black gel icing pen.
Good To Know:
This large cake should feed 15 birthday party guests and can be made two days in advance.
Any leftover cake slices should be wrapped in two layers of cling film, then a layer of foil and frozen straight away. It will last for up to two months in the freezer.
Cora Lydon is a freelance journalist living in Suffolk with her husband and two children. She’s also a children’s book author who loves finding activities and place to inspire her children. Her dining table bears the scars of many craft activities attempts (many unsuccessful).