The Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book, or the AWWCBCB (as absolutely no one is calling it) is a staple of the childhood of most Australian kids.
I’d venture to say that most of you reading would have a childhood picture next to one of these magnificent and (at the time) unprecedented cake creations. Since then, they have all but gained legendary status. Several years ago, the book made a resurgence, and another generation of small, confused children received a Women’s Weekly cake for their special day/
But these are polarising desserts. Each of the cakes in the book seems to fall into one of two categories: ‘obviously shit’ or ‘obviously brilliant’. Some debatable ingredient choices by the team at Women’s Weekly back in the ’80s see the savoury cross paths with the sweet, and mums venture deep into that part of the sweets section at Bi-Lo that nobody ever really returns from
In that spirit, I’ve decided to rate the best and the worst of the AWWCBCB cakes. I’ve not actually made any of these cakes myself, but I’ve tasted them all – my mother steadily churned through the entire book over ten years of family birthdays. I also would highly recommend a AWWCBCB party, as I’ve just decided it makes an incredible theme for costumes. You’re welcome.
1. The Duck
Look. As underwhelming as it already is to have layers of sponge cake covered in a pasty yellow-dotted frosting, what makes this cake almost unpalatable is the beak, inexplicably made out of Smith’s Original Potato Chips. And the popcorn hair gives off a Monopoly man vibe. Also, the poor ducky just looks… sad. But if you like ducks, and quilts – then sure. Ducks for days.
2. The Koala
What. What is this cake? Not only does it really not resemble a koala, it is made of more shredded coconut than you can poke a lamington at.
3. The Piano
Now this is a fine cake. The difficulty level is not super high, but presumably you are giving this to a six-year-old who has recently achieved a B+ in their preliminary piano exam, or your grandpa who likes to “tinkle the old ivories”. Either way, your audience is easily impressed. I’m yet to see where exactly stocks those tiny candelabras, but they’d be online somewhere. Considering it’s the only real difficult element of this cake, why not splurge?
4. The Jack-In-The-Box
This guy gets points for difficulty, but there’s still an element of the creepy. Here we see one of the standard ingredients in this cookbook: an upside down ice cream cone.
Remember when Mum always had ice cream cones in the pantry, and sometimes they were the coloured ones? No one has those any more. It was a simpler time. Plus, consider the assembly of the box, made out of wafer biscuits – and all covered in layers of coloured icing and musk sticks. This is not a ‘night before’ cake, but I’d be willing to bet that if this book existed at the same time as Pinterest Fails, there would be a lot of competition.
5. The Zoo
With a similar construction to the famous Pool Cake (see next week’s article; spoiler alert), the zoo cake is testament to a mother’s love. I was always fascinated with how the grass was made, but as a grown-up I recently learned that it is in fact, surprise surprise, shredded coconut with green food colouring.
You always knew that this one was coming if your toy animals (of which I’m sure you had thousands) suddenly disappeared.