my brother and i on his birthday. more on that below…

this month marks SEVEN years of this old blog being in the world! i never knew how long i would be able to keep it up, seven years is beyond expected! if this blog was a child it would already be in big school… aaw i’m imagining my sweet blog child, wearing an oversized school uniform and eating its packed lunch on the sports field at break time.

so, back to that opening picture. we still don’t know why my brother was so upset that day – i mean, look at his amazing train cake. that was one of the most exciting things about birthdays, we got to choose the cake our mom would bake us from the legendary Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book. every Aussie who was a kid in the eighties or nineties would be familiar with this book, and it is also a household name with most South African families. let’s be honest, everyone wanted the swimming pool cake, but most moms were too scared to attempt it!

i’ve always wanted to do a post about this book, and now’s my chance. i asked my mom to scan in a few of the best cakes from our original copy, which still sits on her cookbook shelf. there are 108 cakes in the book!! read the wikipedia article, it’s hilarious. i can’t wait to bake one of these cakes for the little guy… happy birthday blog, i should bake you a cake, too.

Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book

Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book

Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book

Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book

Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book

Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book

Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book

Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book

Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book

Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book

Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book

Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book

Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book

Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book

Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book

Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book

Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book

Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book

Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book

Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book

Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book

Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book

47 Comments

  1. happy birthday miss moss blog! you´re amazing and you just keep on getting better and better!

    i have never seen such insane cakes… this is truly crazy!

  2. Happy birthday to the blog! Have been reading since you started, when I was 20, and it’s still my absolute favourite blog. Re the book: I’m from Ireland and we have this exact book at home (says Irish Women’s Weekly on the cover) – it was taken out every year for every one of our birthdays (and there are seven of us, so my mam had a lot of practice at making these cakes). Sometimes as kids we’d flick through just to look at the pictures!

  3. happy blog-birthday indeed! my heart just skipped a beat when i saw the butterfly cake – i had that one for my 2nd birthday. wish i could remember it but thank goodness for photos.

  4. I had the pool and the barbie cake! This book is the best! Happy blog birthday!

  5. Susan Wildes Reply

    Happy birthday Miss Moss!!! I absolutely adore your blog.

    Damn, we always just got store bought white cake (with whatever decorations they happened to have that day.) :(

  6. These cakes are amazing! My grandmother always baked my birthday cakes, and she was very no-nonsense. Chocolate or caramel. No shapes or animals or whatever. But these are mind-blowing. Go Australia. Happiest birthday to the Miss Moss blog!

  7. Nicole Baikie Reply

    We totally had this book! My mom would adapt them a bit, though…
    Happy birthday to the blog!

  8. Dude! I know every single image form that book off by heart! I think we used to tell my mom which one we wanted and then she’d just make a round cake with smarties in the shape of a number instead.

  9. Karen Clair Reply

    I’ve been a fan of your blog for a few years and also have my 17 year-old daughter reading now too! This post was fabulous…perhaps we’ll use the bunny cake for Easter! All the best to you from Chicago!

  10. Oh my gosh! Hot tip my mum revealed to me: she made the swimming pool cake a bunch of years, because she said it was actually really easy! Didn’t matter if the cake was wonky, no messing about trying to get the frosting to look nice!

    I had the swimming pool, a Dolly Varden cake (similar idea to dancing lady), humpty dumpty… that’s all I can remember.

    One of my friends had the train cake for his 21st birthday, and when his mum brought it out there was literally gasps in the now-adult crowd, and murmurs of “you got the TRAIN CAKE?!” Lol! The book still has its magic power.

  11. Happy Birthday! It’s my birthday too—I’m not sure if you were aware that your blog is a Pisces-Aquarius Cusp. ;) Congrats on 7 years.

  12. It’s definitely a tradition in New Zealand and we do the same thing for our kids! Recently made the Pirate ship one for my daughter’s 5th birthday, I convinced her to choose it over the poodle by saying we could print her face on the sails. It’s a running joke that ours never look like the pictures but we try anyway. Also I think the cakes change with each edition, I’ve never seen that stove before, that looks bananas.

  13. Anne Smith Reply

    Wow this post brought back so many memories. … I had bunny, several barbie princesses and butterfly cakes… my brother also had the train. Happy blog birthday!

  14. I can’t tell you how much I love this book. When I was a little girl I used to spend hours flicking through the pages and choosing a cake for my next birthday. The Dolly Parton was my fave but the witch was also so great! I made the castle for a friend’s birthday recently (not as hard as you would think, looking at it!). FYI you can still buy this original version – a beautiful sweet friend of mine gave me a copy for my baby shower and it is honestly one of the best and most thoughtful gifts – the nostalgia brought tears to my eyes!

    • He, he I love that you like the Dolly Parton cake – I’d really like to see that one and not sure it will be appearing in the AWW cake book anytime soon! We loved this book as children – so much pressure to choose exactly the right cake!! I did like the Dolly Varden one too – but don’t think I ever got it!

  15. Happy birthday to Miss Moss! This post brings back memories, we had a similar book in the UK that my sisters and I would pick a cake from each birthday. The one I remember most vividly is the chicken pox cake, which as you expect is a face with red smarties and a thermometer sticking out. I was adamant about it, and it rocked.

  16. My mum is from Australia living in Ireland now and we had that book too! Or something similar. She made a chocolate train cake with liquorice for my sister one year I still remember how excited we all were. And the book we had had a Christmas tree cake with butter cream icing that I made one year I was so proud of myself! Thanks for the memories :) and happy birthday to Miss Moss blog!!

  17. Happy Blog birthday! Also we definitely had this book at home in the UK. For my 7th birthday my Dad made the gingerbread house and it was the best thing ever. All I remember is all my friends peeling all the sweets off of the outside and leaving the actual cake. Good memories, thanks for reminding me.

  18. Happy Birthday, I love your blog so much. Have been reading for about 5 years now. It truly makes me so happy to see a new Miss Moss post! As an Australian kid from the 90’s I feel this post so deeply. Always wanted that damn swimming pool! But I did get the castle for my 5th birthday, I recall being stoked. x

  19. Also studied this book as a kid, I thought it was only an Australian thing! With three brothers, most of these cakes had a go in our house. Dolly Varden, the cricket bat, race track 8, the elephant…never the swimming pool ha…I have an updated version of this book but the original is still the best!

  20. happpy 7th blog bday! really, yours is one of three blogs i still read regularly after all these years. this birthday cake cook book is so epic, jealous you got to pick from such fun cakes! we got mostly jello mold ‘cakes’ with mandarin oranges in them, which i guess i very 80s too, but we loved them!

  21. Aaahhhh the birthday cake book of my childhood! There were so many restrictions on the ones we were actually allowed to choose from the book (eg. no jelly ones, we could ask for the train but no carriages, the rabbit head but no body, only the easy numbers, etc!) We used to pour over it for hours before our birthdays trying to select just the right one. A few years ago I found a copy in a shop and bought it – so now my sister and I can both have one (which was definitely going to be something we would have argued about because we loved Mum’s copy so much!) x

  22. NAILPOLISH is an ingredient on the swimming pool cake. HA! I love it. :) Happy birthday to your beautiful blog. xoxo

  23. I took out this book from the library – I don’t think it had been taken out in 10 years! – and I baked the horse cake for my daughter’s birthday! She loved it so much ( as did her friends) that I had to make it every year for several years. She’s now turning 26 and she still talks about that cake! I LOVED this book. Thank you for the sweet memory.

  24. My best friend made my boyfriend the train cake for his birthday a few months back because he was saying he always wanted it when he was a kid and never got it! We now have a slightly-different (but still in the same vintage) Women’s Weekly one called Party Cakes for all Occasions and I have promised to make my nephew a skeleton cake :) best!

  25. Oh my! Blast from the bast! My mom used this EXACT book for every birthday cake she made for me and my sister. It’s still in her cookbook cupboard. It’s a gem, that’s for darn sure!

  26. Totally grew up picking cakes from this book… I never noticed that it said Australia anywhere on the cover (I’m from Canada), and now I’ll have to visit my parents’ place to look through it again and check that cover!

  27. My mom used this book for all of the birthday cakes she made for me and my sister. I had that train, too! My mom still has the book in her cookbook cupboard! We’re Canadian, but after I sent her this link, she let me know that she bought this book when we were in Brisbane, Australia in 1984 (together with The Women’s Weekly Italian Cooking Class Cookbook).

  28. Ha- I’m sure my mum had that book and when I was a child I just used to look through it and drool!

  29. Oh! How special to see the birthday cake book i not only grew up with but got to taste first hand as my Dad brought them home from the Womens Weekly test kitchen. Talk about blowing a child’s mind! The bunny rabbit cake was my fave and i recall my brother and i ingesting copious mouthfuls of the castle cake’s meringue icing with glee too.
    My Dad was the creative director of all the ACP titles and Art directed Womens Weekly and associated spin-offs for over 30 years. They had no idea at the time the awesome-ness of their ideas and creations would bring so much joy and the Food Editor Pamela Clarke is STILL going strong after 50 years in the biz! http://www.foodtolove.com.au/profiles/pamela-clark-4453
    I only hope no-one still has the womens weekly fancy dress book (or knitting book for that matter!) on their hands (or heaven forbid, scans) as i was a very shy and toothless fairy and my poor brother an emasculated crepe paper turnip! We spent years as kids hoping not to be recognised at school and beyond and i know there are Women’s Weeklies employees kids all over australia cringing at the memory of being cast as “models” for these books. A support group may be in order.
    Great memories though and awesome to see how much joy they have brought so far afield! Will have to show my dear ol’ Dad!

    • My grandmother Ellen Sinclair was the food editor of Woman’s Weekly in the 70’s and early 80’s, I’m sure she would have worked with your father, and my cousins were also in the magazines and books.
      She wrote the Birthday Cake book along with many that are still are still being produced today by WW, Pamela Clark did NOT write this book but has been telling people for years that she did and has had my grandmothers name taken off all the books she wrote.
      If you have an original copy or any of the original cookbooks produced by them at that time, you will see her name. Pamela was just one of many woman who worked in the test kitchen at the time and couldn’t possibly have written single handedly like she claims.
      It’s quite a sad story what happened to her and how she’s been treated by WW, she never got over it and is a real sore spot for my family. She was an incredibly inspirational woman who changed the way Australians eat, she made foreign food mainstream when at the time most Aussie meals were meat and three veg. She passed away many years ago now and will never be known for all she created.

      This book came out the same year I was born, so I really did grow up with it and every birthday my mum made a cake from it but there was still so many I never got to have, I always wanted the pool cake but looking at it now it looks kinda yuk haha.

  30. We did NOT have this book- but there must have been something about the Commonwealth identity, because my Mum, from Canada but not living there, would make us elaborate cakes. I remember a piano once- and my mom is not the artistic type.
    What I love best- the cakes actually LOOK homemade. Nowadays I always feel like I failed when I try to make fancy cakes- they never look like what is in Pinterest- these I could DO, though.

  31. I used to spend hours looking at this book . My brother had the train on the front .
    I’m going to get my mum to dig hers out . I coveted the doll cake x

  32. Chocolat 99% Reply

    I made many of these cakes ftom the books for my daughter Chloé and son Hugo and they were a huge success! Also lend the book to friends so they made differrnt cakes than I did!!
    My daughter email me your blog,
    We had a great talk this morning.
    Mervi

  33. We absolutely had this book in Canada. My sister and I alternated between the bunny and the ice cream cone castle every year.

  34. Flash from the past! A Canadian kid in the 80s, I spent many hours pouring over this book. My mom gamely stepped up for me and my siblings every birthday. And no, the swimming pool cake was never attempted..

  35. This book brings back so many childhood memories. Oh the nostalgia!

Write A Comment