Baking the perfect cake for your child's first birthday

It can be useful to involve a party hire company to get tents and enough chairs to accommodate guests, and while many fantastic cake-making services can whip you up the cake of your dreams, there is something special about making your child's first birthday cake and icing it yourself.  Here is how to bake a great cake.

Finding a recipe everyone will like

This is not the time to try any recipe that is new or extremely tricky, so if you have a tried and true vanilla cake recipe this is the time to use it. Try using food colouring to turn the 'inside' of the cake into an attractive feature — perhaps use colours that match whatever the theme of the party is. If you are feeling very creative, you can try cooking several thin cakes in different colours and join them together with icing.

If you are not confident with your recipe, try a packet mix or wholesale mix (purchasable from a cake or party hire store).

Hire a cake tin

There isn't much point buying a number shaped tin when you will only use it once! Instead hire a cake tin in the shape of a number, or your child's latest favourite object, from a party hire store. You'll have a great range to choose from and can try a new tin next year when they suddenly like trains more than teddies or whatever their new obsession is at 2 years old.

Plan an internal surprise

Whether your cake is a rainbow inside, or opens to reveal a piñata of lollies, having a surprise inside will make the cake cutting a fun time for the adults and other children in attendance. Hit up online pin boards for some inspiration of something that might appeal to your children.

Go crazy with the decorating

Kids are extremely visual so don't be shy in the icing department. Many party hire stores have sugar decorations for sale that you can add to cakes for extra detail, and you can combine these with supermarket sweets for crazy and colourful decorations. Combine this with marshmallow icing in a range of colours and shapes to create a colour rich and lovely cake that will entrance your younger guests. Icing can disguise a number of flaws including uneven surfaces and burnt sections.

Remember to take lots of pictures of the cake before and after it's been smeared all over your baby's face! The children will enjoy seeing your creation even if it's unlikely to hit the front page of any party magazines.