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While the baby shower is a comparatively new celebration in Australia, it has developed into a reasonably common pre-birth welcoming ritual, where a pregnant woman is ‘showered’ with gifts for her new baby.
Like a birthday or a christening, it’s a ‘life-cycle’ event – and that means cake!
In fact, providing a special cake for a baby shower has become such a common custom that many cake decorators now include cakes specially designed for baby showers in their portfolio.
There are two types of baby shower cakes – traditional edible cakes, and crafty, decorative ‘nappy cakes’ (known in North America as ‘diaper cakes’) filled with little gifts.
Just as we celebrate birthdays and weddings with a ritual of cake-cutting, it’s appropriate to provide an edible cake for a baby shower and to take some time during the baby shower event to gather around the guest of honour as she cuts the cake and perhaps makes a short speech.
The cutting of the cake is a good way to indicate to your guests that the end of the party is near; it is often followed by opening the gifts if you choose to do so while the guests are still present.
Check with your mum-to-be to (or her partner or close relative or friend) to make sure the cake is a flavour they will like – no point getting a chocolate cake if it will give your guest of honour migraines!
If you are making a cake yourself, organise it a day or two before the shower – you’ll have enough to do on the day of the baby shower without having a cake crisis.
Avoid cream cheese or cream in baby shower cake fillings if possible because pregnant women are very susceptible to levels of listeriosis and other bacteria found in some foods like soft cheeses and shellfish, that would not normally be harmful to non-pregnant people.
If you know the baby’s gender, then you can decorate the cake with blue or pink to suit; for a surprise baby, perhaps a white-iced cake with decorations in different pastel colours will be best.
The baby shower cake can often be the decorative masterpiece that holds the baby shower theme together! So if the baby shower has a theme of ducks, or teddy bears, or certain animals, make sure the cake decorations reflect the theme in some way.
There are plenty of cookie-cutters to make decorative shapes like teddy-bears, trains or little animals for the cake. You can cut pretty shapes from slabs of icing or pastry for the cake.
You might even decide to wash the cookie-cuters after you have used them, and give them to your mum-to-be as an extra gift!
You can decorate the cake with pretty satin ribbon, or put a few little plastic toys that fit in with the theme on the top of the cake. Or you might choose to use a little reusable gift on top of the cake – perhaps a plastic duck that can be used in baby’s bath, or a tiny stuffed toy for baby.
But the edible, celebratory cake that guests share is not the only cake that is common to many baby showers – the crafty ‘nappy cake’ is also something to consider.
Also called a ‘diaper cake,’ a nappy-cake is not meant to be eaten, but is a carefully constructed collection of useful baby items that are bound together in a cake-like structure built on rolled-up disposable nappies.
While the cake won’t be served out to the guests at the party, it will be a lovely and very practical gift for your mother-to-be – and will make a fun decorative centrepiece during the baby shower.
While there are a number of crafty people who have managed to make a commercial success out from creating and selling cleverly-made nappy cakes, it is not a terribly difficult thing to do – so if you have a crafty bent, or you know someone crafty who could help you, why not have a go at creating a nappy cake yourself?
Get a few friends around to help – you can do this a week or even more before the baby shower, this is one cake that is not going to go stale!
Depending on the little gifts that you buy to use as decorations, the nappy cake can be quite costly – so if there’s a few of you involved in the construction, you might wish to make this your baby-shower gift to the mum-to-be.
Instead of an empty baby bottle in the centre, some people choose bottles of skin lotion, baby bath liquid, or other baby care items.
You can be as flexible as you like when buying gifts to decorate the baby shower cake; a packet of children’s wooden alphabet blocks can be scattered around and on top of the cake, or you might use a collection of bibs, rattles, toys or even little washcloths, rolled to match the cake.
Step one: Get your ‘ingredients’ together
Step two: Roll the nappies
You’ll be creating a three-layer cake that builds up around the baby bottle.
Roll about 40 to 50 nappies up, then secure each one with an elastic band – try and make them all look consistent. Make sure the rubber bands are in the middle of each nappy so that the bands on the inner layers are hidden by the layers around them, and those on the outside layer will be hidden by the thick satin ribbon.
Step three: Construct the three layers
Each time you have a full circle of nappies around the bottle, tie a length of thin satin ribbon around the group of nappies.
You will end up with three circles of rolled nappies on the bottom layer, two circles of rolled nappies on the middle layer and one circle of rolled nappies on the top layer.
Step four: The final decoration
Don’t forget to take a photo of your cake when you have finished!