It’s easy to lose track when it comes to organising birthday parties for children – from the entertaining factor, the cake and party favours. Back in the 80’s when I grew up, most parties were just a get together of friends / play mates, perhaps some games, party food, then a birthday cake. End of. Nowadays, children’s birthday parties seem to have taken on a whole different level with those relentless themes, fancy decorations and cakes with opulent icing fondants.
This year, we marked Audrey’s 5th birthday in our new home in Hong Kong. Following a small party with her friends in London before we left on our summer trip back (for my graduation at SOAS), we wanted to make it special for Audrey in a place she’d call her new home. It has taken, and is still taking her, time to settle in, but we are grateful for some wonderful neighbours and family who have made it so welcoming for her.
I wasn’t sure I was able to make a cake for her this year. Partly due to the fact that baking ingredients here are much more difficult to find. Having spent over a decade in the UK which boasts plenty of homegrown products and brands, it has proved rather difficult coming into an entirely different landscape which relies on food imports at extortionate prices. In light of the extent of food safety scares in China, most consumers do not prefer products made in China, but would happily prefer to pay a premium to buy foods from ‘Western’ countries, such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US and the UK – this applies to most meats and dairy products.
So there I was, finding myself in a state of confusion when trying to make sense of the myriad of brands for flour, butter, eggs and cream cheese – having the price as my main guiding factor. Because, as with previous years, I really wanted to at least try to make a simple cake for Audrey. I am pleased to report that my double pineapple “upside down” cake has come out well. I adapted the BBC Good Food recipe (which could be found here) and added my own twist.
Double pineapple cake (I did not turn this upside down in the end due to the absence of glazed cherries)
For one cake layer –
1 can pineapple rings, retain the juice/syrup
200g butter, softened
50g soft brown sugar
270g self-raising flour
150g castor sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp vanilla essence
3 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp syrup from tin
For the cream cheese icing –
120g butter, softened
120g icing sugar
250g full-fat cream cheese
Preheat the oven to 180’C. Line the bottom of a baking tin with greaseproof paper. Arrange 6-7 pineapple rings evenly.
Mix 50g butter and 50g soft brown sugar until creamy, spread evenly across the bottom of the tin.
In a large bowl, mix the remaining butter, flour, sugar, baking powder, vanilla essence until smooth. Add the eggs and syrup, mix well.
Pour the mixture into the tin. Cook for 35-40 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Leave it to cool. Repeat recipe as desired.
For the cream cheese icing, cream the sugar and add in cream cheese. Mix well. When the cake has cooled down, spread the frosting even on the cake.
25-30 small portions. This is excellent for freezing too!