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Up, Up and Away with Yummy Retro Birthday Cakes!

Today is a very special day. It’s Wolfie’s BIRTHDAY! I’ll be doing a little special edition Weekly Kiddo showcase later today, but for now I wanted to talk birthday cake. Mmmm. Birthday Cake. You know, back in the day people really made an effort to make their kiddo’s birthday cakes special—and personal. They cut and created. They decorated and embellished. Cakes were artful in a very home spun way!

image: curly wurly

I never was a fan of too much frosting when it came to eating, but I sure loved to look at it. When I was 4 or 5 one of my mom’s friends made me a gigantic ballerina shaped cake and whooooo boy did I think it was cool.

image: the happy apple

I have to say that ultimately I’m a big fan of the sweet and simple old timey two layer cake. My specialties are yellow cake with chocolate frosting and M&Ms all over the top (cute, easy, and festive!) and a lemon cake with cream cheese frosting (which is sooooo freakin’ scrumpdillyicious I can’t stand it).

Nowadays it seems that birthday cakes fall into a couple of camps. The over-the-top fondant covered fancy cake—that’s so elaborate it’s almost more of a wedding cake. (Does fondant really taste good anyway??) And the other option are the prefab, store-bought rectangle cakes with that puffy sweet frosting that makes yer teeth hurt. And then there are the cupcakes.

For all my yackin’, I’m never that adventurous and I always end up making cupcakes—which are admittedly all the rage with the elementary school set. While I do love a good cupcake, I still miss those proper homemade “cut up” cakes of the 1970s . Take a look at these babies from the Baker’s Coconut Cookbook and you’ll see what I mean! (Please pardon the butter and flour stains on the page—this little book as well loved!)

Poor Jerry Giraffe….it’s never a good sign when there are only two good things about you, and one of them involves you being eaten.

Awww, the gum drop horsey! So cute. Although it kinda looks like a llama…..

And then there’s the quirky Teddy Bear with it’s craaaazy eyes.

It’s a fluffy bunny, bear, er…. “THING”. And finally, the Cut-Up Kids!

The little girl is a TAD creepy. A slab o’ pink “leg” anyone??

So fun huh! I would loooove to bake something like that for Wolfie. Like, a groovy guitar cake! Or a wacky dog. Alas, my son is the World’s Only Child Who Hates Cake. And Chocolate. No lie. It’s maddening. So it’s cupcakes I’ll be making our party this weekend! Yellow cake with vanilla frosting and sprinkles most likely. Someday I’ll just surprise him and bust out with something totally crazy. Like this red and yellow luv:

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Posted in Vintage Childhood, Vintage Kiddo Photos.

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23 Responses

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  1. Kellie MiniMustHave says

    Love these retro cakes! We have a super series of kid’s birthday cake books here in Oz from the Australian Women’s Weekly. They have just reprinted their 1980 edition which I remember growing up with as a kid. Poppy loves flicking through all the oldies and picking out her favourites. Such sweet (he he) memories…

  2. gabrielle says

    Happy Birthday to Wolfie, hope he has a fabulous day

  3. pilgrim says

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY WOLFIE!!! (hope he’s feeling better)
    great post, i love gaudy vintage cake photos! are you familiar with Dolly Varden cakes?

  4. Amber Liddle says

    a. thank you, fondant tastes horrible.
    b. love that book of old cakes! my friend’s mom made our wedding cake and she had all these old baking books like that. It made me wonder if people really did all that back in the day?
    c. happy b’day wolfie! hope he’s feeling better.

  5. kodie says


    those kid cakes are a little creepy. what happened to their arms?!? i do love that lion though! too cute!!

    we are in full birthday month mode here at my house. we will be having a Shaun the Sheep party for Baby Mae (that kid LOVES her British claymation!) and a pink dinosaur party for Miss Haven. HOORAY for birthdays!!!

  6. Dottie says

    I hope our little birthday boy is feeling better. Poor little guy!

    I’m loving those cakes particularly the Jerry the Giraffe one!

    Don’t worry–the Peach will happily eat Wolfie’s share of sweets any day!

  7. sandi d says

    Happy Birthday Wolfie!!!!

    These kiddo cakes are fabulous! May juts have to take a stab at the Jill cake for my little ones upcoming bday.

  8. lishyloo says

    love the armless kids cakes

  9. RocketGirl75 says

    Is there a monkey in that book? Because I might make one for Eliza’s birthday!!

    And happy birthday to the little Salty Dog!

  10. Virginie says

    it’s funny you posted this because i had planned on making the lion for Leo’s 1st birthay. i hope it’ll look just as good, the bar is set pretty high!

    happy birthday Wolfie, i’m sure you will have an awesome party!

  11. Lisa Gutierrez says

    Happy birthday to Wolfie! I love that last cake!

  12. Masonoid says

    I so know what im making this summer!

  13. Eartha Kitsch says

    I LOVE this post. Cut-Up Cakes are some of my most favorite things in the world! Eeee!

  14. Katie says

    Awww, I LOVE these! The lion and the giraffe especially. I often reminisce about the fun cakes of my childhood… You’re right, nobody makes awesome cakes like that anymore. And fondant IS gross!

  15. pam says

    my mom used this book to make birthday cakes for my sister and i about 50 years ago.
    i still have the book!

  16. Lynx says

    LOVE cut-up cakes. Didn’t know they were retro. They are very popular only on kids’ birthday sites, and very popular in my house. Also hate plastic icing/fondant and no idea how to make it here in Asia either.

  17. Tricia Sethaler says

    I am so fortunate to find this site. Apparently, I lent my copy of this book and never received it back or it was lost in one of our moves. Anyway, Thanks so much. My grandchildren will get some of these and I will love it even if they don’t much care.

  18. Karen Dyck says

    my mom had this book – it brought back many memories of her cakes that she used to make us – I think I might have it still – I need to go look now

  19. Pamela Moreno says

    My mom made my birthday cakes every year from this book. I haven’t had a glimpse of it til now. Thank you!!!!

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