Nicky Cahill: Birthday Cakes

Don’t you just love cake and birthday cake most of all? There is something lovely about eating a cake that was made especially for you. Or on the other hand, making a cake for someone else. Baking cakes for other people is one of my favourite things to do. I just love it. The smile on their face when they see the cake makes me very happy.

I love making cakes. They were one of the first things I learnt to make in the kitchen, and my love affair with creaming butter and sugar, adding eggs seeing their bright yolks blend with buttermilk to a rich vanilla shade has not abated. Pouring the batter into tins and the waiting by the oven for the cakes the bake. The kitchen scented with sugar and vanilla. Comforting and heavenly all at once.

Cake seems to have been a theme in my life for the past three months.

Over the summer I baked several birthday cakes – chocolate, lemon, Rice Krispie, vanilla and a special one with pink icing. And, it was my birthday in September, so its safe to say over the last few months I’ve eaten and made lots of cakes. 

My sister who went back to University before my actual birthday helped me celebrate by making me a three tier Vanilla Cake with piped rainbow icing.

Vanilla Cake Recipe

6 oz Butter softened
6 oz Self Raising Flour
6 oz golden Caster Sugar
3 eggs free range
1 tsp baking powder
4 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp buttermilk


Have all ingredients ready and at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 180°c (gas mark 4), Aga top oven, first line of runners, with cold shelf two sets of runners above. Prepare two six inch cake tins by greasing or lining with baking paper
Put all ingredients into a bowl and beat on medium with an electric mixer
Evenly divide the mixture between the cake tins
Bake for 20-25 minutes – Aga 15-20 minutes – until golden and a skewer comes out clean.
Place the cakes in their tins on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes before turning the cakes out onto the rack
Sandwich together with a mixture of strawberry jam and halved fresh strawberries, then dust icing sugar over the top

Coffee and Walnut

An artist friend of mine Yvonne Adams who painted a beautiful painting of a wave for me, surprised me with this coffee and walnut cake complete with a fountain fire candle.

Coffee Cake Recipe


· 200g self raising flour
· 200g unrefined golden caster sugar
· 30g dark muscovado sugar
· 2 tbsp buttermilk
· 225g butter
· 5tsp freshly made espresso
· 2 1/2tsp baking powder
· 1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
· 4 free range eggs


• 350g icing sugar
• 125g soft butter
• 3 tsp fresh made espresso
• optional top with fresh chopped walnuts


• Cream the butter and the sugar
• When light and fluffy add the eggs beat to mix
• Add all the other ingredients except the milk, beat until well combined
• Finally add the milk, and beat until you have a smooth batter
• Pour the batter into a prepared 8-9’’ circular tin
• Place in the oven and cook for 20-25minutes – a skewer should come out clean
• Remove, let the cake cool for several minutes in the tin before turning it out
• While the cake cools, add all the ingredients for the icing to a clean mixing bowl, and beat to combine to a soft icing (if you like a stronger icing add another teaspoon of espresso, you may need to add a little more icing sugar, to get the right consistency
• When the cake has completely cooled add the icing using a spatula
• Enjoy!


  My mum made me possibly the best chocolate cake in the world. We iced it with white vanilla buttercream and covered it in sprinkles. I love sprinkles.

White Icing with sprinkles


• 100 grams Butter softened
• 225 grams Silver Spoon Homegrown Icing Sugar
• 1 tbsp buttermilk
• 1 tsp vanilla essense
• Coloured sprinkles

• Place the softened butter in a bowl and beat until soft.
• Gradually beat in the icing sugar and vanilla essence – beat until smooth
• Add buttermilk and beat again to give a fluffy consistency.
• When cake is iced cover with sprinkles

For my nephew’s first taste of sugar I made a Vanilla Cake with white icing and sprinkles

Rice Krispie Cake

  I made three Rice Krispie Cakes this summer. Think Rice Krispie buns with in a cake with sprinkles and marshmallows. This is the cake to make for children and adults alike. Everyone falls for her goury crunch. Plus this fail safe cake requires no baking and only an hours chill time.

Recipe Rice Krispie Cakes


• 200g marshmallows
• 200g caramel chocolate such as mars bars or galaxy caramel
• 200g milk chocolate
• 1 tsp melted butter
• 400g rice krispies
• Coloured Sprinkles
• Bag of mini marshmallows


1. Melt chocolate, caramel, butter and marshmallows stirring continuously until smooth
2. Stir in the rice kris pies
3. Layer mixture with sprinkles and mini marshmallows in a prepared circle tin
4. Leave to chill for up to 1 hour, these cakes can be made 48 hours in advance
5. Enjoy


Margarita’s are my favourite drink. I’ve been experimenting with flavours this month using this Cazebal tequila from Marks and Spencer 

Classic Margarita 

Grapefruit and elderflower Margarita  


You can have your cake and eat it, just don’t eat it for breakfast.


By Nicky Cahill

If anyone has any food related questions or ideas for products they’d like Nicky to try, do get in touch.

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Post Author: Belfast Times

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