Australian Women’s Weekly swimming pool cake

2 Oct

swimming pool cake  The Hungry Mum

If you’re an Aussie and under the age of 45 you most probably had this cake made for a birthday cake at some point in your life. I did ad I loved it. And in true keeping-it-in-the-family-style, Miss9 has also had it made for her.

I must confess that I made this cake for her a loooong time ago – I believe she was turning 7 at the time! That’s what happens when you’re a food blogger – you make so much stuff and take so many photos that things somehow get forgotten! When I saw these photos recently on my laptop I was so excited as it meant I could share this cute birthday cake recipe with you.

In true AWW style it doesn’t matter if the cake is a bit wonky – the main thing to remember is your child will love it. I made my cake from scratch, using the Weekly’s basic butter cake. Don’t be put off by the long list below, you can do it! Trust me – once you have made the cake the fun part is the assembly.




125 grams butter, diced, at room temperature

¾ cup caster sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 ½ cups self-raising flour

½ cup milk


1 pack light blue jelly crystals


125 grams butter, softened, diced

1 ½ cups sifted icing sugar

2 tablespoons milk

1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted

Beat butter in bowl of electric mixer for around 7 minutes – you want it pale. Gradually beat in half the sifted icing sugar and all the cocoa, then milk, then remaining icing sugar.

Beat until combined.



300 grams chocolate finger biscuits

2 pink musk sticks

liquorice straps

6 plastic baby dolls – these were very hard to find! Try old-fashioned craft or toy stores

1 cocktail paper umbrella

round lollies to act like floaties for the dolls.

1 sour rainbow strap, cut into thirds

1 30cm round cake board


Preheat oven to 180C and line and grease a20cm round pan with non stick paper. Allow paper to extend 5cm over the pan.

Beat butter, vanilla and sugar in bowl of eclectic mixer until pale and not-gritty.

Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down bowl each time.

Sift in flour and milk, in two batches and mix until just combined – do not over-beat.

Scrape into tin and bake for about 40-50 minutes.

Stand in tin five minutes before turning, top-side up, onto wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make jelly according to packet instructions and pour into a shallow container then place in the fridge. You don’t want it completely set but it does need to be mostly set – if that makes sense.

Meanwhile, make butter cream.

Level the top of the cake so it is even and place a dollop of butter cream in the centre of cake board and place bottom of cake on dollop, gently press down. This will secure it.

Cut into the centre of the cake, 2cm from the edge, a section 2.5cm deep. Remove and discard this section and use a small sharp knife to even this out.

Use a pastry brush to remove crumbs then spread butter cream all over the edge and side of cake but NOT the hollowed-out area.

Stick the chocolate finger biscuits around the sides of the cake and leave a gap of about 5cm for the ladder.

Make a ladder using the musk sticks, liquorice, toothpicks and a dab of butter cream – see photos. Then position this in the gap.

Remove jelly from fridge, mash with a fork and spoon into the hollowed out area. Place dollies in round rings or on the rainbow strap lilos, then place umbrella on side.


29 Responses to “Australian Women’s Weekly swimming pool cake”

  1. Josette@thebrookcook October 2, 2015 at 8:36 am #

    What fun! I have seen a version of the decorations… but with pigs playing in the mud. (My daughter LOVES pigs- we have a giant stuffed collection- so it caught my eye!)

  2. Tammy Twinkle October 2, 2015 at 10:31 am #

    Great Fun!

  3. Antonia October 2, 2015 at 11:09 am #

    What a cute cake!

  4. ladyredspecs October 2, 2015 at 11:53 am #

    I made this cake for one of my kids at least thirty years ago! My copy of the original book is still used to make birthdays cakes from!

    • The Hungry Mum October 2, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

      This book is a classic! So many cakes, so many memories x

  5. alexcellent October 2, 2015 at 2:16 pm #

    I love these Women’s Weekly cakes. And I agree, the fun part is in the assembly. It is like art!

  6. thesurprisedgourmet October 2, 2015 at 8:57 pm #

    What a fun looking cake and it sounds delicious too.

    • The Hungry Mum October 3, 2015 at 1:34 am #

      Thanks so much! jelly and cake – together at last!

  7. Melisa R October 2, 2015 at 10:26 pm #

    How adorable is this cake! Wonderful job!

    • The Hungry Mum October 3, 2015 at 1:34 am #

      Awww, ta! Daughter number one was very happy with it x

  8. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella October 2, 2015 at 11:54 pm #

    Hehe I specialise in wonky cakes so I’m glad that wonkiness is fine. This is super cute! 😀

    • The Hungry Mum October 3, 2015 at 1:33 am #

      I prefer ‘rustic’ 😉 I have no idea how some people get their cakes so perfect – I have neither the skills nor the patience.

  9. hotlyspiced October 3, 2015 at 10:04 pm #

    I’ve made this cake before too. And I remember it well. I remember it from so long ago that the water had to be made with green jelly because you couldn’t buy blue! You did well to find the little dolls to float in the pool – that to me has always been the most difficult part – finding all those finishing touches! xx

    • The Hungry Mum October 4, 2015 at 3:29 am #

      A cake with many memories! The original recipe specified green jelly – which I had in my cake as a kid – but I thought blue was more sparkling! I can;t remember where I bought the dollies but I know it was years ago.

  10. Laura @ Feast Wisely October 4, 2015 at 1:57 am #

    This made me laugh – 8 years in Oz this week and I’ve never seen a swimming pool cake – until now. I want one!

    • The Hungry Mum October 4, 2015 at 10:11 am #

      Really?! Wow, you are missing out! I will have to make you one 🙂

  11. Jem @ Lost in Utensils October 4, 2015 at 4:41 am #

    Oh my God…I remember this cake from my childhood! And it was a popular one…so cool. I think the book came out in the early 80s so it was prime time for kid’s birthday parties 🙂

    • The Hungry Mum October 4, 2015 at 9:49 am #

      Yes Jem! Exactly! That book was the baking bible for Aussie mums from the 1970s on :0

  12. Sara | Belly Rumbles (@bellyrumbles) October 5, 2015 at 2:26 am #

    Yup, I had one of those. Even made one for Josh. Almost an Aussie tradition.

  13. Chez @ Chez Moi October 5, 2015 at 8:27 am #

    The AWW is very popular in NZ as well and my Mum had a special edition on kids birthday cakes. This cake was one of them, and Mum made it one year for my sister. It was a huge hit with all the kids at her party!

  14. ChgoJohn October 8, 2015 at 12:59 pm #

    Reading the post’s title I simply had no idea of what was to come. 🙂

    • The Hungry Mum October 18, 2015 at 11:45 pm #

      ha ha! I guess if you didn;t grow up in Australia in the 70s/80s it is a bit weird 🙂

  15. Anna @ shenANNAgans October 16, 2015 at 2:28 am #

    #BEST I never had a pool cake made for me, totes sending Mom an email now suggesting bad birthday parenting. Ha!

    • The Hungry Mum October 16, 2015 at 5:41 am #

      ha ha! Maybe get DoCS involved – a childhood without a pool cake sounds like grounds for investigation by the authorities x

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: