Why the ‘Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book’ is the best cookbook ever written

September 21st, 2012

Ovens & Cooking

Without a doubt, in my opinion the best cookbook ever written is the Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book:

Containing such genius creations as The Pool Cake:

and The Train Cake:

This particular cake is so great, it has even inspired a song!

Apart from the fact this book combines two of my favourite things (cake and kitsch), it’s a classic for a number of reasons:

All the recipes work

Sounds like a fairly basic requirement for a cookbook, but then again who hasn’t had a disheartening experience using a recipe that simply didn’t turn out like it was supposed to?

The beauty of the Women’s Weekly is that the recipes have been tried and tested by mums – so anyone can follow the recipes without any sort of formal training.

All the recipes taste good

Anyone who’s ever had the pleasure of eating the train cake (for instance) will be able to tell you, in emphatically enthusiastic terms, that these cakes taste AMAZEBALLS.

(…except  for maybe those cakes that were covered in liquorice all sorts, bleh).

Easy to follow

Not only should a recipe be clearly set out with step by step instructions, it should also be printed in a plain font that you don’t need to struggle to read.

A personal gripe of mine is recipes which call for 100 grams of flour – without also providing the cup measurement. Not everyone has a set of kitchen scales, and not everyone is mathematically gifted enough to convert measurements on the spot! Grr.

Looks good

As well as being easy to follow, a good cookbook should inspire you – which is certainly true of the good old Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Cook Book. Bright and clear photos of the finished result make the process of making the cakes much easier, and it also makes the book a delight to pick up and flick through.


Personality is certainly something this cake book has – in abundance! The best cookbooks have their own quirks, in much the same way that your grandma’s recipes do.

What I particularly enjoy is cookbooks that have a sense of playfulness about them – and ones that have been written by cooks who are truly passionate about food. The secret ingredient is love!


Finally, the Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book was so successful because it was really very practical. It called for ingredients that were readily available from supermarkets, and all the recipes were relatively inexpensive to make.

While Heston Blumenthal’s methods (to use an example) might produce the ‘best’ results, his recipes often take hours (or days!) and also require special equipment (or liquid nitrogen!). I’m not going to argue that these creations undoubtedly taste amazing, but these recipes are just not practical for the majority of people who don’t have the budget or the time.

Examples of dishes served at Heston's restaurant, The Fat Duck

What’s your favourite cookbook?

Louise is a writer with a passion for appliances, especially those that involve food. She is particularly fond of ovens because they enable her to make cake. Apart from baking Louise also enjoys listening to alternative music, dying her hair various unnatural colours and writing poetry that has been described (by her Nan) as 'quite nice'. On her appliance wish list is a Hello Kitty toaster and 'Hero' the barking dog-shaped hot dog maker. She lives in Sydney. Google+

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