It's Arlo's 4th birthday tomorrow, and yesterday we had a 'train party' for him. We're lucky enough to have a model railway in our town which includes a train museum and a few tracks with small trains that children and adults can ride on. The tracks wind past a park, the modeller's pond, a couple of 'stations' and through a tunnel. We had afternoon tea with some family and friends there, in the afternoon sun. Thank you for coming, everyone, and making it such a special day for Arlo.
Sadly, I forgot to take pictures of the children riding the trains, but I did get a picture of the work of art that was....
The Train Cake:
This was my idea, but Tom did most of the work. He's so good at the details like icing the cake (harder than I thought!), and cutting the pieces into something which actually resembled a train. I took the easy way out and bought plain sponge cakes, and made up a couple of batches of icing. We used oreo cookies for the wheels, and crushed a couple to look like 'coal' in the tender. The other cars had logs (kit-kat bars) and milk bottle sweets in them. We made tracks from straps of black licorice. I covered the board with waxed paper, but underneath placed blue fabric, with a smaller piece of green fabric on top to look like the 'Island of Sodor.' (yes, we have one of those Thomas the Tank Engine-obsessed boys. Still...)
Although it's by far the most elaborate cake we've made yet, it has nothing on the cakes shown here. Some of those are quite outrageous, but it's a good resource for getting ideas. Also, this site was helpful for party ideas.
Because that cake was purely 'for looks' we also made a carrot cake for the grown-ups to eat. There's one piece left, so that will be nice for morning tea today. Thanks, Kirsty, for the inspiration, and others for your tips on freezing carrot cake after my last post- good to know they freeze and keep well.
I realised I've made this every year for Arlo's birthday, and the recipe in my hand-written book is looking well-used- it's covered in oil and bits of dried mixture- but it is a great one, so here it is:
4 free-range eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable/olive oil
juice of one lemon
2 cups plain flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
2 tsps cinnamon, 1 tsp allspice
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup crushed pineapple (optional)
3 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or sultanas
Beat the eggs, sugar and oil with an electric beater or by hand until thick and creamy. Fold in all the other ingredients carefully, and mix. Pour into a waxed paper-lined tin (makes quite a big cake- I use a round spring-form tin) and bake at 180 degrees Celcius for around one hour. Ice with cream-cheese icing when cool.
1 pottle of plain cream cheese (I used a 250g container)
1 cup icing sugar
juice and rind of one orange (or lemon, or a few drops of vanilla extract)
Soften cream cheese, then blend all the ingredients together, in a food processor or by hand.