Monday, 11 April 2011

Themed children's parties: Teddy bear cake

Over the next few Mondays, I thought I might look at ideas for children's parties. When my children were little, I used to go to great lengths for their birthday parties. Since their birthdays are only 22 days apart, for several years they had a combined party.

And there was always a theme.

Some of the themes over the years were: teddy bears, pirates, nursery rhymes, Kideo (a South African children's TV programme), all the children of the world, faces, chess and sports.

The trick with a themed party is to make sure that the cake fits in with the theme, that suitable decorations are easy to come by, and that you can get eats that work with the theme, too. If you can get the kids to dress up, so much the better, but remember that this might impact on their ability to play boisterous games. I had one kid pitch up at a party dressed as a T-rex. He looked great, but he could barely move. When it came to time for the games, we had to find him something else to wear.

Because I'm sad like that, I used to make sure that the plates/bowls each child got also fitted with the theme. A tip, here: write each child's name on their plate and cup in big letters - use lower case if they're very little kids - so that they can keep track of where they left their plate and there won't be tears and tantrums over the alleged theft of food.

I thought I'd start the series with a teddy bear cake. Simply because that was the first theme I ever used. My elder son's name is Björn (which, incidentally, rhymes more with turn that it does with torn). This is a fairly popular name in Sweden, and it means 'bear'. Not in some abstract way, but literally. A small B björn  is a bear, and an isbjörn  (ice-bear) is a polar bear. So, for his first birthday, while we didn't have a party, I made him a teddy bear cake. That's him you see in the photo above, getting very excited about the "Tetty pear."

You could use this cake for a teddy bears' picnic party. Alternatively, if you're having a hee-uge party, you could make three different sized bear cakes to represent the three bears for a fairy tales party.

You will need:
2 round cakes, one slightly larger than the other (recipe below) for the body and head
6 cupcakes for the ears, 'hands' and feet - you can either bake or buy these
Butter icing (recipe below)
A large silver board/tray to place the cake on - a tray, covered in tin foil works just fine
Liquorice all-sorts or similar to make the face

If you're baking the cupcakes yourself, increase the cake recipe by half to allow enough mixture. They won't need to bake as long as they bigger cakes, so keep an eye on them!

Oven temperature

225g butter, softened
225g caster sugar
4 eggs
225g plain flour
10ml baking powder
5ml vanilla extract

375g butter, softened
750g icing sugar
Little milk for mixing
Few drops of colouring

  • Cream the butter and sugar together until thick, light and creamy.
  • Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
  • Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixture and fold in with the vanilla extract.
  • Spoon into two greased baking tins: a one-litre and a 1.5 litre sized tin.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
  • Turn out onto a cooling rack and leave to cool completely.
  • Cream the butter for the icing well.
  • Sift the icing sugar and add it gradually, beating well after each addition.
  • Add just a little milkk to give it a smooth consistency.
  • Stir in enough colouring to get an even tint in the colour of your choice.
  • Set aside until needed.
  • Position the cakes on the board/tray. You may like to trim the edge of each cake where they touch for a snug fit.
  • Position the cupcakes as appropriate for the ears, hands and feet. You may need to trim edges in order for them to sit snugly.
  • Spread an even coating of icing over the whole cake. If you want to achieve a furry effect, dip a paintbrush in water and make long downward strokes in the icing.
  • Use sweets to form facial features (and toe and finger pads, if you like).
  • Cover the join between head and body with a bow.

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