Whether or not you’ve made your gluten free birthday cake – or any other celebratory cake, of course – you will probably want to decorate it. (If you haven’t time to make one, decorating a shop-bought one can rescue your reputation as Perfect Mum).
Gluten free cake decorations can be found, but do remember to check their gluten free status first. But there are lots of other options.
1. If baking the cake, you can find interestingly shaped tins – numbers, hearts, flowers.
2. You can cut the cake itself into relevant shapes. We’ve done a lion, a rabbit, a dinosaur, the Earth and Moon, and a star. You can always ‘glue’ the cake together with icing.
3. You can cover the cake with different kinds of icing. A green butter-cream icing, ruffled up to look ‘like grass’ can make a great base for safari or farm decorations. A smooth white royal icing can make a base for words or other flatter decorations. A Christmas cake could be smooth white (like ice) or ruffled white (like snow). I like a rough surface, because it hides all flaws.
4. You can use different colours of icing to create patterns (like flags – stars and red and white stripes for 4th July, or a red cross on white for an England football party) or landscapes (blue for the sea or a pond, green for land, brown for tilled earth). Rolling out royal icing and using cutters to create shapes works well – blue and yellow stars on a white background looks smart, or pink hearts for Valentine’s, or letters and numbers for a toddler … You can write any message you like, either using letter and number cutters, or by piping icing into words.
5. Once the cake is covered, you can add decorations. We’ve used gluten free sweets to represent faces or to spell out words – or just to make patterns. We’ve used farm animals, zoo animals and dinosaurs – all from the playroom, so wash them first! At the moment, my children love small marzipan figures (animals and fruit) but you do have to make sure there’s enough for everyone, to avoid fights.
6. Real edible flowers is one I’ve not tried. My wedding cake had roses made of icing, and I still have some of them …
7. Decorations don’t have to be edible. How about using silk flowers, ribbons, tiny boxes made out of shiny card to look like presents? How about using Lego, jewellery, leaves …? Just be careful with the candles!
8. If you have no time at all, cut out a stencil of some suitable shape, lay it on the cake, and sift icing sugar over it. This works well using white icing sugar on a chocolate cake, but you can also use cocoa powder.
Enjoy the party!