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Recipe: Very Hungry Caterpillar Birthday Cake for a Three-Year Old

Just when I was thinking about what sort of cake to make for my niece’s birthday, my friend in Germany sent me this photo of a Very Hungry Caterpillar cake.  Now, that is a spectacular cake, but I don’t really love decorating with fondant – and also, frankly, I’m nowhere near good enough at it to make anything that pretty.

On the other hand, it did make me think about caterpillar shapes and whether a very hungry caterpillar might fit nicely on a cake shaped like a 3.  After all, he is an arch-plus-a-bit, once you count his head, and a 3 has two arches.  I figured I could decorate the rest of the arch with the three plums he ate on Wednesday.

My niece is both fascinated by the idea of birthday cake and a VERY picky eater.  She likes banana cake, but if it doesn’t look like banana cake, she might not be willing to eat it, because you just never know.  Also, banana cake must be banana and nothing else.  No rogue pineapples or dates or anything like that are allowed.

So I found a very plain banana cake recipe, and used it to make one ring cake and the little cakes.  Since I needed chocolate cake crumbs for my brother’s cake, I made the other ring cake a chocolate cake, but for the purpose of this recipe, I’m going to recommend making a double batch of the banana cake.  It’s easier, and you don’t have to worry about the icing tasting odd with one of the cakes.

A few notes.  You will need two 20 cm ring tins (or one ring tin, which you wash in between, which is what I did) for the 3, a miniature madeleine tin (about 3x5cm for each cake) for the plums, a big friand tin for the head, and a gem scone tin (like a patty tin, but all the indentations are round rather than pie-shaped) for the body.  Or rummage through your cupboard and find something roughly the right size, and use tin foil to make it closer to the shape you want.  That’s what I did with the friand tin.

Unless you have a very large oven, I suggest you halve the recipe below, and make the cakes in two batches.  I’ve provided the full shopping list below, with the halved amounts next to them for those who don’t like mental arithmatic.

You will also want food colouring pastes if possible – they give a good strong colour without having to use enormous amounts, which is what you want.

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