My friend Sara recently sat, and passed with flying colours, her Australian citizenship test. By way of celebration, she asked me to bake her a cheesecake. Sara has asked me many times to make her a cheesecake and, to date this has not happened. This time was no exception
“In honour of your new Australianness I will make you a Skippy* Cake” I said.
There was a long pause. Then.
“What’s a Skippy cake?”
That night I emailed her this picture of a Skippy Cake which is from “The Party Cookbook” from 1971, edited by Ann Marshall and Elizabeth Sewell.
The next morning she sent me this:
Well, never let it be said that I’m the type of gal who goes around promising to make people Skippy Cakes and not delivering, so, here it is Sara, your very own Skippy Cake!
Actually, rewind and delete that. I am exactly the kind of gal who promises a Skippy Cake and does not deliver because sadly, Sara works in our Canberra Office and I am in Melbourne. Technically, yes that 1400 kilometre round trip is do-able in a weekend. But so is an ultra-marathon. And I’m not doing one of them either!
The Skippy Cake and the Mushroom Cake I made a few weeks ago got me thinking back to the awesome cakes my mum used to make me.
There was this when I was….hmmm….how old? Four? Six? If only it was completely obvious what year I was celebrating….
And she crocheted that purple dress for me too!
A few years later and I got my very own Dolly Varden! The utter joy of this was hard to describe. And her skirt is the exact same colour as my 5 year old birthday dress!
It’s just a shame you can’t see the detail in the dress. It was gorgeous! And every rose, every detail hand made! There was one to top that too. One year she made me a.market barrow full of fruit and vegetables and flowers. So imagine this:
But in cake and LOADED with vegies, fruit and flowers. Hundreds of teeny hand made fondant apples and roses and oranges and eggplant, bananas and tulips, pumpkins and tomatoes…it was loaded! And how did we repay her hours and hours of painstaking work? By not taking a single damn photo.
How much do we suck? We are the worst family in the world. Seriously.
So, filled with nostalgia, it was it was hardly surprising that my eye was drawn to this in my local supermarket on the weekend:
The cover calls it Australia’s most famous children’s cake book. Others go as far as to call it the “best book ever written in this country”.
And you know, there’s not that many children’s cake books that have a comedy routine and a song dedicated to them.
So fancy a peek at some of my faves?
For the budding artist there is a paint palette:
Got a mini-maestro in the house ? How about a piano cake? Can you believe it? A freaking piano! Can you see why this is
Australia’s most famous children’s cake book? the best book ever written in this country? the best book ever written?
And the one I always wanted and never got. The Pool Party cake. If I didn’t already have an AMAZING cake figured out for my own birthday this year, I would be making this one. Next year for sure!
I mean they’re no Skippy cakes but they are all kinds of awesome.
Not all is wonderful though. There is a very cryptic message in the forward where editor Pamela Clarke advises that “four of your little friends are missing”. I really want to know what those four missing cakes are. Obviously something nowadays seen to be massively politically incorrect – my money is on at least one Golliwog. It’s certainly not gender based stereotypes because the book is full of them. The section on boys cakes has 3 cars, a rocket and a helicopter. The girl’s cakes have a sewing machine, a stove and a dressing table. It would really piss me off except that stove cake is just adorable!
Then, there is some stuff that borders on the downright creepy. Take this thing, called a Mary Jane, which looks like it should be the leading role in a horror film:
And surely you’d only make the Happy Clown if you wanted to psychologically scar your kids for life.
But then clowns totally creep me out anyway. This is how much. You know that actor Brian Dennehy? I watched him in a movie where he played John Wayne Gacy aka The Clown Killer. This sounds like he killed clowns but he actually dressed up as a clown and killed young boys. Lots of young boys. And then buried them in the walls of his house. Since seeing that, I’ve never been able to watch anything with Brian Dennehy in it again. Because in my mind, he is a creepy clown serial killer. Which I’m sure he isn’t. I’m sure he’s a lovely man. But that movie scarred me. Don’t take my word for it. Watch this. And tell me it doesn’t give you the screaming heebie-jeebies. Mute your sound though, I don’t know what that noise is but it’s awful. The entire movie can also be found on You Tube if you want the full extent of the horror.
What? How did we get onto serial killing clowns? We’re meant to be talking about cake dammit. Children’s cakes in general. Skippy Cake in particular. Here is the recipe which I followed pretty much exactly. It’s a really nice butter cake even if you don’t want to go the full Skippy. Do try the toasted coconut over the icing though, that was delicious.
You don’t have to use all that food colouring. You could puree some raspberries for the pink cake. I didn’t even bother with the yellow colouring in the icing because kangaroos are brown or grey not yellow. I added some cocoa powder to the icing mix to make it brown but the coconut pretty much covered it all up anyway. And remember when I destroyed that curry with the bright green pandan essence? No you don’t because that’s a kitchen nightmare I’m saving for a special occasion. Well that’s what I used to make the grass.
The hardest part was making the kangaroo template:
The actual cake was lovely!
For those of you who might not know, the cake was named after a very famous Australian kids tv show called Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. Skippy was a problem solving kangaroo. It was set in a national park and if hikers got lost, Skippy would find them or if someone fell into a hole in the ground Skippy would summon rescuers to help them. Iconic childhood viewing!
Also, you may be wondering what happened to The Skippy Cake seeing as Sara did not get it? Well it just so happens that it was my bosses birthday that same week and he just happens to support a football team called The Kangaroos.
I took the Boomerang part with Sara’s name off and we ate that at home and then I took The Skippy Cake into work and we had a birthday morning tea. I went back into the kitchen an hour or so later to wrap up the last few pieces for some of my friends who were not in that day and it had all been eaten so I think everyone liked it. My boss even took photos and showed his kids that night!
And I already have an order to make a cake for someone else’s birthday.
He wants a cheesecake….
Hope your week is a piece of cake!