A Very Special Birthday Surprise

We were finishing up a farewell dinner for HS at Mamasan when the phone rang and it was you. And not you in Melbourne, but actually here in Sydney ! We sped out to the airport and scooped you up quick smart: what an amazing surprise. We were all SO happy to see you!

Dad’s birthday and our special anniversary were made complete by your presence. Thank you for coming up- how satisfying that we live on the same continent where we can do these things again.

You girls got cracking on a birthday cake for dad the next day.  What to bake? When Little C asked, dad said: hmmm…. orange and almond, maybe chocolate?  You ladies did one better by making him a fabulous red velvet cake, reminiscent of our time in LA where we surely kept Susie Cakes bakery in Brentwood afloat with the number of rv cakes we bought there.

Daughters in cake baking mode!

Sisters in cake baking mode!

We compared a couple of recipes online, and settled as we often do with one from taste.com.au It is such a trusty go-to website and to date (I’ve been using them for years) their recipes have never let me down. Here it is: we found it worked perfectly, and tasted authentic.

Thanks so much for coming to visit: it was the best family surprise ever. By the time you read this, you will probably be done with a shift at the bookshop back in Melbourne. xoxo, dear Izzy!


Now to decorate the cake...

Now to decorate the cake…

Yummy Birthday cake!

Yummy Birthday cake!


  • 180g butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups (315g) caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups (375g) self-raising flour
  • 2 tbs cocoa powder
  • 1 cup (250ml) buttermilk
  • 1 tbs white vinegar
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tbs red liquid food colouring
  • Fresh raspberries, blueberries and strawberries, to serve

Orange cream cheese frosting

  • 250g cream cheese
  • 60g butter
  • 1 cup (150g) icing sugar mixture
  • 2 tsp finely grated orange rind
  • 2 tbs orange juice
  1. Step 1Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line the bases of two 22cm round (base measurement) cake pans with baking paper.
  2. Step 2Use an electric mixer to beat the butter, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour, cocoa powder and buttermilk, in batches, until well combined. Add the vinegar, bicarbonate of soda and food colouring and stir to combine.
  3. Step 3Spoon mixture evenly among the prepared pans. Use the back of a spoon to smooth the surface. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean. Remove from oven. Set aside for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. Step 4To make the cream cheese frosting, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Add the icing sugar, orange rind and orange juice and beat until well combined.
  5. Step 5Place one of the cakes on a serving platter. Spread half the cream cheese mixture over the top. Sprinkle with one-quarter of the raspberries and blueberries. Sandwich with remaining cake. Spread with remaining cream cheese mixture. Decorate with remaining raspberries and blueberries. Cut into wedges to serve.