Points to consider:
Children’s cakes can be great fun to do.....but while not wanting to sound negative a large, carved novelty can take the same amount of time, ingredients and effort as a wedding cake! And the party budget may not stretch to this.
A great alternative is a 2-d novelty (flat but shaped), or regular cake with some figures. Novelty cakes need planning, make templates to scale before carving. This helps you decided how much cake to make. (trying to work out portions on a novelty can be hard as cutting evenly can be hard), sometimes a cutting cake in the kitchen helps! You may also need extra boards in order to move/cover cakes.
Cakes need to be a firm texture to carve well (a Madeira works well). I prefer personally to bake sheets of Genoese cake and stack them together then carve. And for some reason cake that has been frozen carves really well...even if totally defrosted (you can carve semi defrosted cake too). If you don’t like the idea of freezing cake first, make sure cake is a least a day old. Towers and turrets, large domes, balls can be made of rice Krispy treats, marshmallow, butter and rice krispies (recipe on rice krispies site and children like the taste of these too). Some people also cover ice cream cones for turrets.
Remember to cost in the offcut cake to the price of the overall cake. There can be a fair amount of waste. I fill and mask with buttercream. If possible then put the cake in the fridge, or if too large cling film, and leave for a couple of hours before covering in sugarpaste (remove Clingfilm first of course!). Some complicated novelties need to be given a thin coat of sugarpaste or marzipan first in order to build the detail. Colour all your paste in advance too, then it has chance to settle and is not too soft. For dark colours buy ready coloured paste. Also do you want to use natural colours? This could be a USP. Some Mums like this idea, if not ensure parents/guardians are aware that some designs have a lot of colour in them. I never colour the actual cake but rainbow cakes/red velvet are trending, you could be putting too much colouring in to sell these to the public, check the FSA guidelines. Novelty cakes can be dowelled for support- but I have always advised against this in children’s cakes...just in case! If using dowels can’t be avoided always tell the client that dowels are present. Also I would never use any wired flowers etc. Everything I make to go on a children’s cake is edible, if any plastic items (see below) have to be included ensure the client knows what/where they are.
Also children like the idea of cake but they don’t always eat a lot...they prefer the filling and icing! Many children have themed parties and they tend to want whatever computer game, television programme, film they happen to be ‘in’ to, you need to be mindful of copyright laws and trademarks. Technically making Disney or Pixar figures is breaching this and you could be fined for doing so, I find this saddening. As a responsible business you would have to use plastic purchased figures to get round this.
Nowadays cake tables are very popular especially for ‘Princess’ themed parties. These can include cupcakes, cakepops, biscuits etc. This can be adapted for boys too using themes such as pirates, go-karts etc. Brooklands College in Weybridge, Surrey offers part time catering and sugarcraft IVQ courses, such as a Level 2 in Professional Bakery and an ABC Sugarcraft Award level one as well as one day courses including Design and Create an Easter Egg, Valentine’s Cupcakes and Sugar Flowers for beginners.
Sue Haskell has been a bakery lecturer at Brooklands College, Weybridge for twenty years. She is well known in the baking industry, participating at exhibitions such as Cake International and Food and Drink Expo. She has helped with the competitions at the Alliance for Bakery Students and Trainees annual conference since 2000.
Brooklands College in Weybridge, Surrey, offers part time catering and sugarcraft IVQ courses, such as a Level Two in Professional Bakery and an ABC Sugarcraft Award Level One as well as one day courses including Design and Create an Easter Egg, Valentine’s Cupcakes and Sugar Flowers for beginners.