No birthday is complete without a cake, but it’s not always easy to find the right one if you don’t have time to make one yourself. Our round-up includes everything from cheap and cheerful supermarket birthday cakes right through to decadent, personalised, hand-made works of art. All are either available in nationwide stores or to be delivered fresh to your door.
1. M&S Gardening Cake: £42, marksandspencer.com
Marks & Spencer does a great range of personalised cakes for all occasions and for all ages, with the cakes tasting suitably moist and flavoursome. We rate this one the best for the level of detail and sense of fun, although you’ll need to find a green-fingered friend or relative to present it to. It serves 32 people, and will last you five days.
2. Bradford Bakers Custom Cake: from £60, bradfordbakers.com
This Glasgow-based bakery has been creating bespoke cakes for special occasions for over 90 years and they have some impressive customers, including Disneyworld Florida, for whom they designed and made 7,500 cakes for their 50th birthday. Yet they’re great value and all the fillings taste great. Popular themes include cherished cars, teddies and pirate ships, but they’ll do pretty much anything.
3. Baker Days Personalised Cake: from £14.99, bakerdays.com
This company is great if you’re prone to leaving things to the last minute. If you order before 2pm, they can deliver the next working day, to practically anywhere in the UK. Simply choose a size, theme and flavour, then add your message and the cakes even come with candles and balloons (and the larger ones with a cake slicer).
4. Sainsburys Lemon Layered Bunting Cake: £9, sainsburys.co.uk
This attractively decorated bunting cake is suitable for both adults and kids and is good value. We found the lemon buttercream and lemon curd filling, along with the lemon flavoured icing, a good flavour combination with the sponge cake, which is nice and moist.
5. Fiona Cairns Bespoke Cake: from £100, fionacairns.com
Cakes by the world-renowned Fiona Cairns are available at a range of outlets including Waitrose, Fortnum & Mason’s and Selfridges, many of which can be personalised. But for the crème-de-la-crème of birthday cakes, go direct to her bakery, where they make the most incredible bespoke cakes by hand, using only natural colours, top-notch ingredients and astonishing attention to detail.
6. M&S Colin the Caterpillar: £7, marksandspencer.com
This cake may be aimed at kids, but the moist and tasty chocolate sponge roll is so delicious that the children might have to fight off a few adults to get the first slice. It’s sold at most M&S outlets, including many in service stations, which makes it a great last-minute buy, although if you pre-order, there’s also a giant personalised one available for 40 people for £35. Serves 10.
7. Harrods Bespoke Cake: from £250, harrods.com
Made by The Cake Store, which has won numerous awards and gold medals, for Harrods, these cakes don’t come cheap but they are both big and bespoke, with an astounding level of detail. Vanilla sponge cake or moist chocolate cake are favourite fillings, but they also do carrot cake, red velvet or fruit cake. The friendly staff can also help you decide on a creative theme.
8. English Cheesecake Company Honeycomb Smash Cheesecake: £25, englishcheesecake.com
These guys have been making handmade cheesecakes for over 20 years and supply restaurants including Pizza Express, as well as providing birthday cheesecakes to your door, even on a next-day service if required. They arrive frozen, which means you can keep them up to six months or four to five days once defrosted.
9. Betty’s Presents Cake: from £52.50, bettys.co.uk
Betty’s cakes taste amazing. Aesthetically, this personalised one is our favourite and it does well for adults and children alike, although the kids we tested it on found the chocolate sponge quite rich, so you might be better off going for the Victoria sponge option. There’s a fruitcake option too and there are different sizes. The edible tiny parcels are beautifully hand crafted.
10. Tesco Large Chocolate Celebration Cake: £7, tesco.com
If you’re after a no-nonsense birthday cake that tastes and looks good but doesn’t break the bank, this chocolate sponge cake will serve you well. You won’t need much as the chocolate ganache frosting alone is pretty rich, and the white chocolate curls and Happy Birthday wording offset the dark brown nicely. There’s a smaller one available for a fiver.
11. Waitrose Spotty Dog Cake: £25, waitrose.com
Waitrose has a good selection of both adult and children’s cakes that you can personalise and this is by no means their most intricate in terms of detail. But we love the cute face that’s bound to bring a smile to any child’s birthday and the vanilla sponge with jam and buttercream filling tastes good too. The hand-piped message finishes it off.
The M&S Colin the Caterpillar has been a long-term bestseller. It tastes great and it looks fun, as well as being under a tenner. Meanwhile, for something really, really special, our vote goes to Fiona Cairns.
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