This post is dedicated to the Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book. Shout outs to my Australian pals!
Hopefully for those living in the great sunny land down-under this image should stir nostalgic delight within each and every one of you.
Perhaps I should explain for my international friends. This book was held precious to many families in the 90s with its simple instructions and how-tos for creating adorable cakes. It’s so popular that a commemorative Vintage Collector’s Edition was released in Februrary this year. It’s so popular it has a number of Facebook fan groups and fan pages. It’s so popular this book has barely aged; it’s incredible to see how many people continue refer to this gem of a book for fun cake ideas. It’s simply amazing.
Amongst its pages of how-tos for the Teddy Bear cake, Train cake, Piano cake and Butterfly cakes lies the most infamous cake of all – The Swimming Pool cake. It was every kid’s dream cake when I was younger, and why wouldn’t it be? Delicious cake slathered in buttercream and jelly (or jell-o for my American pals) covered in lollies and candy. It was a dream come true. I might go as far as to call this an Australian Icon.
Thankfully, however, the culinary world has evolved from using algae-green jelly and nailpolish as decorating components.
My version is a little different from the recipe listed (I didn’t use “1 packet butter cake mix”, for example) so here’s my step-by-step guide to creating this iconic Australian cake. It’s best started a day in advance to prepare the cake, and more importantly the blue jelly. I hope you have lots of lollies ready in your pantry!
Swimming Pool Cake
(Alana’s Illustrated Guide)
1. BUY LOLLIES AND CANDY. Blue jelly, desiccated coconut, Teevee snacks (or long chocolate covered biscuits), jelly babies, gummy bears, snakes, kool mints and cocktail umbrellas. GO NUTS!
2. Prepare blue jelly according to packet instructions. Place in fridge and allow to set completely.
3. Prepare a 9-inch round cake. I used my standard vanilla cake recipe and added a chocolate swirl by adding a little cocoa in some of the remaining mixture. Once baked (180°C for around 50 minutes), wrap in plastic so it doesn’t dry out and place in the fridge until your jelly is ready.
4. Remove cake from fridge. With a sharp knife trim the cake to remove the dome that has probably formed in the baking process to create a nice, flat surface.
5. With the sharp knife, cut around the top in a circle to represent the wall of the swimming pool. Hollow out the centre if the cake to form a recess for the jelly.
6. Prepare chocolate buttercream by beating 125g butter, 1 1/2 cups icing sugar, 50g melted chocolate and a tablespoon of cocoa. Spread around the cake covering the edges and around the wall of the recess.
7. Prepare green coconut “grass” by combing desiccated coconut with a few drops of green food colouring. Gently place or spoon around the rim of the cake ensuring not to spill any on the sides (a little overflow is fine though as they will be covered by the biscuits). I know it’s looking a little silly now but just bare with me, it will be worth it, I promise!
8. Create the fence of the pool by arranging the Teevee snacks (or biscuits sticks) around the edge of the cake. Be sure to leave a 1 1/2 inch gap to make room for the ladder.
9. Construct the ladder out of must sticks and thin candy strips, I used thin sour laces. Use a little of the buttercream to attach the pieces and lean against the cake.
10. Remove your set jelly from the fridge and mash with a fork to represent water. Carefully spoon into the crevice of your cake, ensuring you don’t spill any onto the coconut grass (once it sticks, it stays!).
11. It’s time for the decoration! Adorn your cake with cocktail umbrellas, jelly babies, gummy bears, kool mints for balls or anything else you like. I had my brother make create some lounging jelly babies floating in pool toys constructed from snakes. Place them in and around the pool edges!
It’s a sight to behold, isn’t it? It’s just so adorable taking a knife to is seems almost blasphemous…
Oh well. Good night, sweet prince.
You were everything I ever dreamed of and more as a 5 year old.