How to make the Women’s Weekly number one birthday cake

I can admit now that one of the major attractions for me in having a child was to use the Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book.  I have the vintage edition and have been lusting after the swimming pool and ballerina cakes for years.  I decided to start simply with the number one shaped cake.  That swimming pool cake can wait until my little girl can actually appreciate all the hard work that has gone into it.  

 First birthday cake

I used my favourite standard chocolate sponge cake as the base.  I wanted a firm cake that would hold together once I cut it into shape but I also wanted the actual cake underneath all that icing to be delicious.  Once the cake was cooked and completely cool I did a layer of crumb coating to make sure the icing was crumb free.  Crumb coating a cake is a secret I have only just discovered (a little late on the uptake) and it makes such a difference to getting a professional looking finish on an iced cake.  Essentially crumb coating is like doing an undercoat before the final icing.  It gives a nice, smooth base to then ice over the top.   

Cutting the two loaf cakes into shape
Cutting the two loaf cakes into shape

Because the cake shape itself was fairly easy I got a little bit creative when it came to the icing.  The number one cake in the Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake book is just covered with yellow icing and smarties but I decided to go for a rainbow of colour with some piped ruffles just to make it completely over the top.  After all what one year old girl doesn’t love a bit of butter, icing sugar and food colouring? 


Icing the ruffles on to the cake
Icing the ruffles on to the cake
Number one birthday cake
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7031 calories
711 g
1892 g
453 g
62 g
280 g
1730 g
3324 g
532 g
17 g
141 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 7031
Calories from Fat 3989
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 453g
Saturated Fat 280g
Trans Fat 17g
Polyunsaturated Fat 21g
Monounsaturated Fat 120g
Cholesterol 1892mg
Sodium 3324mg
Total Carbohydrates 711g
Dietary Fiber 10g
Sugars 532g
Protein 62g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 225g butter
  2. 225g self raising flour
  3. 225g caster sugar
  4. 2 tbs cocoa powder
  5. 4 eggs
  1. 300g butter
  2. 300g icing sugar
  3. A little milk
  4. Food colouring (I use Wiltons)
  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 180c.
  2. 2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  3. 3. In a separate bowl beat the eggs together and then add them gradually to the creamed butter and sugar, mixing well as you go.
  4. 4. Before adding the flour remove 2 tbs of flour and replace with the 2 tbs of cocoa powder.
  5. 5. Add the flour and cocoa mix and mix together well then divide the mixture equally into two baking paper lined and greased loaf cake tins and make sure the mixture is level.
  6. 6. Bake for 25 – 30 mins or until a skewer pressed into the cake comes out clean. Turn the cakes out of the tins and leave to cool on a wire rack.
  7. 7. Use a serrated knife to cut one of the loaf cakes in half. Then cut one corner diagonally to form the number one. Refrigerate the cake.
  8. 8. Whisk the butter in an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Then add the icing sugar and continue to beat until all mixed in and light and fluffy again.
  9. 9. Divide the buttercream into five parts.
  10. 10. Take one fifth of the buttercream and add a little water to it. Use this icing to stick the pieces of the cake together and form a number one shape. Then crumb coat the cake - this is a thin layer of icing like an undercoat which prevents you getting crumbs in your icing.
  11. 11. Add colouring a little bit at a time to the portions of buttercream and mix well. I used green, red, yellow and blue to create a rainbow of colour.
  12. 12. Spoon one of the buttercream portions into a piping bag with a 103 nozzle and then pipe the icing into squiggly lines.
  1. You'll need two loaf pans and a piping bag with a 103 nozzle.
Adapted from Women's Weekly Childrens Birthday Cook Book
Adapted from Women's Weekly Childrens Birthday Cook Book
Gourmet Chick
Demolishing the cake
Demolishing the cake



  1. Oh wow, Cara! This cake is sooo enticing 🙂 I bet the babe cooed the same thing 😉

    Gourmet Getaways

  2. Stunning! Just gearing up for Will’s this weekend- I’m attempting a Very Hungry Caterpillar… (cross fingers) x

  3. Thanks Julie – if she could talk I am sure she would have!

    Tori – Oh enjoy – look forward to seeing the result…

  4. Happy birthday to your little treasure! She really is so lucky – your cake looks amazing. Your piping skills are out of this world!!

    My mum made me the hickory dickory dock cake for my 1st birthday. 🙂

  5. Oh wait a minute, just looked at some old photos – the Hickory Dickory Dock cake was for my FIFTH birthday!

    She did the number 4 cake with the marshmallow flowers for my fourth birthday. 🙂 Can’t remember the first birthday, lol.

  6. Just wondering if you know te measurements of your loaf tin?

  7. How far ahead can I make this cake, without the risk of it drying out too much?
    I had planned on making it Thursday for a Saturday party, only due to the fact that I will be in town all say Friday and wanted to avoid being told how to make it Saturday with everyone there! Lol

    1. Hi Kristie – I think that will be fine if you keep the cake in an airtight container (assuming you will ice on Saturday?). Otherwise will need to be in airtight container in fridge if you ice.

  8. Can you tell me the size of the tins you used to make the cakes please.
    Thanks, Terri

  9. I want to make the number one cake too as chocolate but will stick with the smarties decoration. Would you still bother doing the crumb coating? I’m going to do chocolate with chocolate icing so am assuming I’d just use the chocolate icing to do the crumb coat?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi- if the cake is chocolate and the icing is chocolate as well you won’t be able to see any crumbs so yes you can get away with skipping that step. Anything to save time!

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