Nanny’s Ultimate Birthday Cake Recipe


When I think of birthdays, like many people, my mind always goes to one extremely important aspect of growing up – the cake. So, with my nanny’s birthday being just around the corner both myself and my brother found ourselves discussing the highly important matter of birthday cakes. A significant fact about my nan that I should probably draw upon now, is that she’s basically a Cake Boss-Mary Berry hybrid and has been whipping up scrummy frosted cream topped goodies for as long as I can remember. A significant fact about myself and my brother is that the last time we tried to bake a cake together the top layer of it slid off. Some would argue my nan might not even be our relative considering our atrocious past culinary creations – but this was our hour of redemption.

Okay, so maybe not an hour of redemption … more like six hours, we’re not exactly Bake Off ready. We really wanted to do something special for my nan though as she always uses her own, holy grail recipe to bake us birthday cakes, as well as making us cakes around the year regardless of the occasion (she’s the ultimate nan what can I say), so we wanted to make her one in return. Her cakes are always the perfect medley of fluffiness and sweetness, lovingly smothered in buttercream icing and adorned with delicate sweet treats, so it’s fair to say we had a lot to live up to. For any normal person, this recipe would probably take two hours max, including cooling time. But our baking time was broken up by quite a few episodes of Gravity Falls, a trip to Tesco and a clumsy decorating mishap as after we had placed a fondant ’83’ on the cake and begun decorating it our mum informed us that our nan was, in fact, turning ’84’. After telling our nan about this mishap though she informed us she would’ve preferred for it to remain as an ’83’, or even more preferably an ’18’. All in all though our cake went down really well, we got the thumbs up from our relatives, ourselves (maybe not so important) and most importantly the baking Goddess herself, our nan gave it her seal of approval, so in the end it was a massive success!

So if you want to make a nanny approved cake, here’s the recipe:

You will need:

7 inch round cake tins

Baking parchment



For the cake …

175g Self-raising flour

175g Caster sugar

175g Margarine

4 Medium eggs


For the buttercream icing …

100g margarine

312g icing sugar


To decorate …

Ready to roll white fondant icing (size depends on chosen design)

Food colouring of choice

Chocolate Buttons

Edible glitter

Edible gold decorations



The cake …

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celsius / gas mark 4.
  2. Grease the baking tins with lard and line with baking parchment.
  3. Mix together sugar and margarine in a bowl until it forms a smooth, lumpless paste.
  4. Sift the flour into a separate bowl.
  5. Gradually add in the eggs and a little flour to the sugar and margarine paste.
  6. Gradually add in the rest of the flour until all of the ingredients are mixed well and there are no lumps.
  7. Half the mixture between the two pre-prepared baking tins and level them off.
  8. Place into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and a toothpick can be poked in and come out clean.
  9. Once cooked allow to cool for 5 minutes in the trays before turning out onto cooling racks, then get ready to decorate!!

The buttercream icing …

  1. Mix together margarine and icing sugar in a bowl.
  2. Add in more than the recommended 312g of icing sugar if it is not thick enough – it should resemble a paste-like consistency.
  3. Separate the buttercream icing in half, use half for the inner filling, put on the top layer of the cake on and then use the remainder to coat the top.

Optional decorating …

  1. Separate your white fondant in half and create a small well in each half, drop in a teaspoon of food colouring and knead until the colour is consistent throughout. Keep adding more food colouring in the same way until you reach the colour you want.
  2. Using a rolling pin coated in flour roll the fondant out onto a chopping board (also with flour on it) and cut out designs – we used a toothpick to sketch them out initially.
  3. Place on top of the iced cake.
  4. Cut chocolate buttons into quarters and use to line the fondant numbers (or other shapes) by slotting in around their edges.
  5. Decorate with other glitters as you wish and have fun with it!!



As a small sidenote, as I was writing this post I was discussing my nan’s (my mum’s mum’s) recipe with my dad and he was telling me about how her recipe was similar to one he’d seen in a classic ‘Be-Ro Home Baked Recipes’ book and after flicking through some old boxes he actually found my grandma’s (his mum) own ‘Be-Ro Home Recipes’ book from 1957. After looking through the 1957 edition I actually found a very similar recipe to my nanny’s ultimate cake recipe, which my grandma used. Despite it being a seemingly small thing to some people, for me knowing that both of my grandmothers shared basically the same cake recipe without ever knowing it left me feeling all fuzzy and warm with happiness because that’s pretty darn cool. So on that note, I hope you have a chance to try this out with a grandma, a grandpa, a close relative, friend or even a dog – maybe the last option isn’t the most hygienic but it’s definitely the cutest.

Happy baking friends,


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