I am not a cake baker. In fact the very idea of making one raises panic in me in a way that I only wish my cakes would. They don’t rise. They tend to flop in the middle with a dry outer crust. I suck at baking.
While I tend to outsource my sons’ birthday cakes for this very reason, I wish I didn’t have to. There is something nice about a homemade cake, decorated in your little one’s favourite thing of the minute.
But then I discovered these supermarket cake hacks that allow me to LOOK like I made the impressive dinosaur cake my three-year-old wanted, without actually baking it.
Check them out. And yes. You are very welcome fellow non-baker/cheaty type!
1. Mud cake tower hack
This one looks SO good and it couldn’t be easier.
You simply buy three supermarket mud cakes (around $4.40 each – chocolate, caramel or white chocolate), plonk them on top of each other, ice (use Betty Crocker’s pre-made icing if you are also nervy about that aspect of cake making – as I am!), then ‘rain’ on some sprinkles, and top with a number candle.
Voila! An impressive cake for under $20.
You could also encircle the tower cake in Kit Kats, sprinkle the top with colourful Smarties and chuck one of those ‘Happy Birthday’ signs from the party section on top.
Then if your little one is into something particular, say My Little Pony, simply include their toy obsession on top of the cake.
I love how no-effort this cake is! It says, “Yes, I cheated, but I know my kid and wanted to make him smile on his special day by putting Baby Shark on his cake”.
Same with this one that features every toddler’s favourite pig!
2. Pre-order the slab to size
Most people don’t know this, but your local Woolies bakery section will bake you either a vanilla or chocolate sponge or mud cake slab to size – yep, just tell them how many people you have to feed, and they will whip it up for you. Oh, and they will ice it too if you wish.
All you have to do is chat to them about what you want, fill in an order form a few days before the party, and then you can decorate it.
I’ll be doing this for my sons this year. Sure, the cake won’t be as fancy as an expensive spider man or Sky from Paw Patrol themed one from a cake shop, but it’s cheaper, still tastes great and I can decorate it how I wish. I’ll be smashing up some Violet Crumbles, sprinkling these on top and placing a few plastic dinosaurs on top to create a prehistoric ‘scene’ – see, cake decorating queen!
3. Customise a ‘celebration rainbow cake’
Lots of clever types are putting two of these colourful layer cakes on top of each other and icing it like the mud cake trick to get more serves/make it look wow! Then, all you need to do is decorate them as you see fit.
And when the cake is cut? “Oh. My. Gawd. You baking genius! Look at those colours!”
Here’s some Coles rainbow cake decorating inspo:
4. Hack a packet slab cake into letters or numbers
Selected Coles supermarkets sell large packet slab cakes which serve 15 and cost $12 – great value for money! For some reason, though these are never at my local supermarket, but they do exist, apparently! So you might need to visit a Coles a suburb or two away to get one if you can’t find it locally.
They are simply a big rectangle chocolate sponge cake and the beauty of these is that they can be sliced and diced however you wish to create numbers, letters or even train carriages if you are feeling particularly cake crafty.
I also love what this mum did with two packet slab sponge cakes for $5 that she picked up from Woolworths for her twins’ birthday party.
If you’re not sure how to create the numbers you need, here’s a quick video tutorial that shows you how to create any number from a slab cake!
So come your child’s next birthday party, don’t get stressed or overwhelmed by the idea of baking a cake. Just do what I’m going to do and head to your local supermarket.
You can still create a personalised cake that will put the sparkle in your little one’s eyes (and also fill your Instagram feed with ‘DIY’ birthday cake love), without having a meltdown in front of your oven because you had to bake it.