This article was almost going to be titled, ‘six big decisions about birthday cake’, but let’s agree on one point right away.  When it comes to celebrating a birthday, EVERYONE wants cake. (Some want it even when it’s not their birthday!)

Nailing the perfect birthday cake for your own celebration or for one of your nearest-and-dearest is a piece of cake if you work your way through these five simple questions (and, if you’re based anywhere from Brisbane through to Byron, we have some pretty sweet local cake-maker recommendations for you too).

Cake by Cakes by Katie xo

Cake by Petal and Peach

Decision One: Who’s going to make the birthday cake?

Basically, you have three options for the cake-making:

– make it yourself

– outsource to a family member/very kind friend

– source from the best local cake makers from Brisbane to Byron

Making the birthday cake yourself is a definite option.  For instance, even though every birthday is special, maybe it’s going to be celebrated in more of a low-key way, or if you’re budgeting or wanting to save for other aspects of the party, or if you’re a little lacking in skill but high on love/confidence for the birthday person and up for turning your kitchen into buttercream central, then go for it. You won’t be alone.  Those who’ve been down the baking aisle of the supermarket lately know what I’m talking about – it seems the range of cake mixes and decorations grow daily!

Our advice to the amateur cake maker is to make a bee-line for Cakes Around Town in Brisbane, Gold Coast Cake Supplies in Ashmore or Bake Boss in Nerang.  The range of options for everything cake at these stores will blow your mind, from the baking tins to the sprinkles in every colour of the rainbow.  

Then there are those lucky enough to have an amazing mother or aunty who can practically make a birthday cake in her sleep.  Others might have a really talented friend who makes cakes for a hobby and will help you out.  Let me say, we are all a tad jealous.

If you’ve considered, then rejected, these first two options, option three has been patiently waiting for you.  Have your birthday cake dreams made real by one of a number of totally incredible local cake artists.

Some of our picks for the most ‘extra’ Brisbane to Byron birthday cake makers are:

Two Little Bakers

Flower and Fondant

Nourishing by Sally

Elegantly Frosted

Cakes by Katie xo

Delicious by Sara

Petal and Peach Bakery

Milk and Honey Cake Creative

Bumbleberry Bakes

Sweet Art Creations Cakes

– Two Little Cupcakes

Cake by Delicious by Sara

Cake by Cakes by Katie xo

Decision Two: Does the size of your birthday cake matter?

Yes.  And no.  The size of your birthday cake can vary depending on how many you’ll be sharing it with (I know, I’m making a big assumption that you’ll be sharing, but still…), what kind of event or celebration you’re planning, and when it’s going to be shared.  eg. is it part of a dessert table or is the cake THE dessert? How much other food will have been offered before the cake is served?  Is the cake meant as more of a symbolic statement than part of the menu being offered?

You can always count on the fact that some will be back for seconds, but there might also be some who only want a taste.  The best approach is talk to your cake maker about the event – they’re the experts – and they’ll be able to provide size guidance.

As part of the size decision for your birthday cake, you can choose anything from a six-inch wide single tier two layer cake to an extravaganza of two or three tiers containing several layers.  Do you want your cake to be narrow and tall?  Or would you prefer it to be wider with room for extra decoration on top?  Almost nothing is impossible.  Also consider who’s going to be responsible for cutting the cake and factor that into the size and shape decision.

Cake by Two Little Bakers and topper by Zoo & Co

Cake by Cakes by Katie xo

Decision Three: What cake flavour should you choose?

Okay, now for the tasty part – flavour!  Our research has led us to the conclusion that just about any flavour is possible.  Vanilla bean?  Sure.  Dark chocolate mud?  Of course. These flavours are classic for a reason – almost everyone loves them.  Then there’s red velvet, banana, lemon, and all the other mud cake flavours.

But don’t make your decision just yet, because there are some seriously mouth-watering and mind-blowing flavours happening.  I’m talking funfetti (vanilla cake batter laden with sprinkles), matcha green tea, caraway and adzuki bean cake, pink champagne strawberry mousse cake, rose and maple can, and persian love cake (made famous by the incredible Katherine Sabbath).

And there’s a solution for those who can’t narrow it down to one flavour – have different layers or tiers made in a different flavour.  My dream combination is a layer each of spiced caramel mud, lemon poppyseed, and dark chocolate and vanilla bean marble.  Remember – it’s your birthday, so you can choose what you want to.  Each cake maker will have their own unique flavour menu, but you’ll find them happy to work with your preferences.

Cake by Delicious by Sara

Almost every cake maker will cater for dietary requirements too.  Our absolute top picks (and not just because they are gluten-free and dairy-free, but also because of TASTE) are the celebration birthday cakes from Nourishing by Sally.  Her flavours include chocolate salted caramel and berry vanilla, to name just a couple.

Cake by Nourishing by Sally and topper by Zoo & Co

Cake by Nourishing by Sally and topper by Zoo & Co

Decision Four: Birthday cake decorations?

Birthday cake trends for 2018 are still showing a strong preference for buttercream finish over fondant, but that’s not to say that fondant cakes have fallen by the wayside.  Gold Coast cake makers who use fondant are creating incredible cakes featuring intricate characters, objects and decoration, which are really reflective of the birthday boy’s or girl’s loves.  For instance, Flower and Fondant’s cake are nothing less than works of art – take a look at her roller skate cake (complete with mini-unicorn!) or her Superman-themed cake and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

Cakes by Flower and Fondant

It’s true, though, that most people these days prefer to eat buttercream than fondant, hence the reason for the shift.  Some bakers are also willing to work with a combination of buttercream and fondant to achieve customers’ birthday cake dreams.

Cakes can be finished with buttercream in several ways – full cover (no actual cake visible), semi-naked cover (buttercream is scraped back in the smoothing process to reveal glimpses of the cake) and naked cover (buttercream is used only in between and on top of the cake layers).

Cake by Two Little Bakers and topper by Zoo & Co

Cookie Cake by Two Little Bakers

Other factors:

– age (a cake for a 4 year old Wiggle’s fan is unlikely to be decorated in the same way as a cake celebrating a 60 year old’s birthday)

– colour – one colour? favourite colour? to tie in with event styling? a mix of colours? watercolour effect? ombre? metallic finish? wrap effect?  All up to you!

– florals – find out what flowers are in season, how floral choices may affect cost, as well as how you’d like them incorporated

– what else do you want on top? Your favourite chocolates, meringue kisses, macarons, berries, sprinkles, lollipops, candy? Where to start and when to stop with the cake decorating can be a fine line – pretty much anything is possible.  A browse of Bake Boss, Cakes Around Town, and even the supermarket confectionery and baking aisles will offer loads of inspiration.

Cake by Cakes by Katie xo

Cake by Hansel and Gretel Cakes

The finishing touch is a cake topper.  Not every cake will have one, and that’s fine, but if you are wanting to make a real statement, a cake topper is just the thing.  We love the unique toppers Zoo & Co are creating (actually we love everything these laser-cutting geniuses are doing).  They’re based in Southport and up for crafting a custom topper in your choice of size, lettering, colour and finish.  Bake Boss is best for ready-made toppers on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane, Cakes Around Town is fantastic.  Online, there’s Foote and Flame, Ruby Rabbit Party, Love Lottie xoxo and xoxodesign, who ship Australia-wide.

Cake by Cakes by Cheryl Robinson

Cakes by Delicious by Sara and toppers by Communicake It!

Decision Five: When should the cake be served?

So, the birthday’s arrived and it’s cake time!  All the decision-making has led to this moment of seeing your birthday cake in its sweet glory.

Have the cake delivered to your event location, if at all possible.  Whether that’s at home or elsewhere, you’ll minimise risk of damage during transport.  If that’s not an option, take a driver and a passenger to the cake pick-up, so that the cake can be carefully held during transport.  The cake will be boxed, so as a last option, it could be placed in the footwell of the front passenger seat or in the boot.  A flat surface and good-airconditioning is key here.  Then, drive like a granny, and you’ll be fine.

As far as consuming the cake goes, you could enjoy it as a unique breakfast-in-bed experience.  Why not? It’s your birthday – you can do what you want to. Then again, don’t forget this is a work of art and it deserves to be enjoyed by others too, so showing it off is crucial. You’ve spent a long time planning this beauty and you’ll be wanting your guests to fall in love with it too (right before they devour it!).

Also consider the time of year.  Our Queensland humidity can be cruel, so best keep the birthday cake in air-conditioning in temperatures beyond the low 20s. Think about inquisitive little (and big!) fingers too. Position the cake just out of poking height and on a stable surface, safe from bumps.  Maybe not right beside the dancefloor or the jumping castle, for instance.

There’s a fine line to tread with exactly when to sing happy birthday and cut the cake.  Depending on the time of day and the expected length of the party, I’d suggest around two hours in.  For a day-time party, plan for the cake to be cut around 30 minutes before the end.  For night-time parties, you definitely don’t want guests leaving before cake-cutting or before they’ve shifted too far into party/dancing/drinking mode.  You know your guests best – you’ll be able to judge when the time is just right.

Then, all that’s left to do is to lose yourself in the much-anticipated moment of savouring that sweet goodness.

Happy birthday-cake planning and eating!

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