Ask any Dane about a traditional birthday cake and chances are they’ll try to explain the Cake Man or Cake Lady. What on earth is that, you ask? It is exactly as described: a cake base, in the shape of a boy or girl, decorated with lots of sweets and treats. While it’s mostly a kids’ cake, adults do like it too.
These cakes have never really travelled – we’re not quite sure why. They didn’t even make it to Sweden or Norway – it is a truly Danish thing that has stayed there. For many years, we’ve had Danish ex-pats ask us to make these and ask us for the recipe – and now, finally, we’ve made one of each and decided to pop the recipes up here as part of our Danish Baking Feature that we’re doing in August and September this year (Sweden and Norway will follow later).
There are several traditional bases you can choose, depending on what you like. Here, we give you the recipes and basic instructions for:
- Danish Pastry base (Wienerbrød)
- Brunswick Bun base (Brunsviger)
- Sweet rolls base (Boller)
- Choux pastry base (Vandbakkelse)
To be fair, you can actually make it any which way you want – and cut it into whatever figure, but these are the most traditional versions – and, as is the tradition, decorated with the help of a kid, usually the birthday child in question. Thank you to Elsa, 8 (nearly 9) for the help with these Cake men (quite a few sweets went into her belly instead of making it onto the cake, it has to be said). By the way, Elsa says to remind you all that her birthday is September 23rd and she’d like a telescope, Hogwarts Lego and tickets to the Alan Walker Concert at the Roundhouse in December (?!).
These recipes can’t be found in our books – although a lot of the base recipes can (we will make sure to make this clear later in this post).
Few points to note:
- The size of one of these Cake Men is so that it fits on one of the wide oven trays – approx. 40 x 50 cm and these recipes fit that.
- It’s helpful to draw out your base shape on the baking paper before you pipe or shape.
- This is a kid’s cake – get them involved! This is not a cake where you will win awards for presentation, but a wonderful birthday treat where the birthday child can help out, whether he or she is 2 or 10.