They’re the birthday cakes we all grew up with as kids in the 1970s and 1980s. They made our eyes sparkle with birthday excitement and mums all over became heroes of the day for pulling off such edible masterpieces. We’re talking about the Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cakes cookbook, of course. Now calm yourself because a charity has just baked every single cake from that birthday bible. Right down to the speakeasy piano and the jelly swimming pool. Come feast your eyes!
The Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cakes book is the holy grail of birthday cake books and remains a staple in most mums’ kitchen arsenals today.
So when Canberra charity Post and Ante Natal Depression Support and Information Inc (PANDSI) was looking for a way to raise some much needed funds, they set themselves a challenge to get all 107 cakes from the book created and in one room at The Hyatt Hotel Canberra – queue the nostalgia.
PANDSI president Christine Spicer says her team considered trying to achieve the massive feat by getting busy in the kitchen themselves, and hopefully enlisting the help of a few friends.
“It didn’t take long to realise that this was too big a task, so I put the call out to Canberra to help us,” Christine says.
“We were blown away, when within 40 minutes of the cakes going ‘live’ to pick that every cake had been snapped up.”
To kick things off, Christine’s team approached 10 of Canberra’s best bakers to pick a cake and create their version.
“So much time, effort and love went into these cakes,” she says.
“From a flying witch to a stand-up Mini Mouse to an intricate ladybird – they were truly stunning.”
When it came to judging the sweet dessert monuments, Pamela Clarke, Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbooks editorial and food director and PANDSI Patron, was among the panel.
“The judging group found the process of picking just three cakes extremely hard, and they really wished that they could have given out more certificates… we didn’t want the event to become overly competitive and, as a result, the top three cakes were judged on ‘love and flair’,” Christine says.
The Koala cake triumphed with love, the cake most closely resembling the original was the Smiley Shark created by a 14-year-old boy, and the reimagined Train cake was considered the most original.
A total of $20,000 has been raised as a result of the charity event, far exceeding expectation.
“The highest bid in the professional category went to the Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe that went for $650,” Christine says.
“The love and attention to detail on the cake was beyond belief.”
The highest bid on one of the silent auction cakes was $400 and came from the father of a former client of PANDSI.
“He had called PANDSI’s telephone support line to get advice on how he could best support his daughter when she was experiencing perinatal depression and it was his way of saying thank you,” Christine says.
“I was amazed by the number of people that have contacted me saying that they would not be alive if it wasn’t for PANDSI.
Christine, pictured below with her daughters, says all the stress was worth it, with the money raised allowing them to employ an extra child care worker to look after the babies of women accessing support at the centre.
“I want it to be known and accepted across Canberra that perinatal depression and anxiety is common but with the right help and support families can get through it,” she says.