Handbag cake

Handbag cake




Madeira cake

  • 250g unsalted butter, softened
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 300g (2 cups) self raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons milk or buttermilk


  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • half a cup milk


  • blue and red or pink gel or paste food colouring
  • 2 marshmallows
  • Smarties or Skittles or M&Ms
  • pink or purple sugar crystals
  • 1 plastic plate

You will need a 30 x 22 x 3-5cm roasting tin for this recipe. To make the handbag, the cake needs to be frozen before decorating, take this into account in your birthday cake planning!


Preheat oven to 160C. Grease tin with some of the butter and line base with non-stick baking paper. In an electric mixer, beat butter for 2-3 minutes until pale in colour and creamy. Add sugar one third at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for about a minute between each addition. Add the vanilla essence and beat until combined. Sift flour and baking powder and add half to butter mixture with half the milk, mix until well combined. Repeat with remaining flour and milk.

Pour into tin and bake for 25-30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire cake rack and allow to cool completely.


Cream butter until pale and smooth. Add the milk and half the sifted icing sugar. Beat until well combined. Add the remaining icing sugar and beat until mixture is light and fluffy. The mixture should be a spreadable paste; if it is too dry add some more milk, if too wet add more icing sugar. Keep covered with plastic wrap.


Cut cake in thirds crosswise. Place one piece of cake on a serving plate and spread with two tablespoons of icing. Top with the second piece of cake, spread with another two tablespoons of icing and top with third piece of cake. Stand sandwiched cake on end with the cut side down. Freeze for at least one hour or overnight.

Stir in red or pink food colouring into icing to tint candy pink. Spread entire cake with a thin layer of icing (this is called a crumb coating). Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Along the top and front of the cake, mark an outline of a V-shape for the handbag flap. Spread another layer of pink icing below the V-line around the cake. Stir a small amount of blue colouring to tint the remaining icing purple. Reserve  3/4 of a cup of purple icing and use the rest to frost the handbag flap. Place the remaining purple icing in a piping bag with a star or shell tip and pipe a border along the flap and edges of the handbag.

Cut the rim from the plastic plate, cut in half and insert into the top of the cake to form the handles.

Decorate handbag with lollies. Cut marshmallows in slices, sprinkle with coloured sugar and arrange on handbag as a clasp. Press a lolly onto the centre of the clasp (use a bit of leftover icing).


  • Preparation time: 20 minutes, baking time: 25-30 minutes, decorating time: 50 minutes.
  • Cake variations: for a lemon or orange cake add grated rind of 1 lemon/orange and replace milk with juice; for a chocolate cake replace 65g flour with the same weight of cocoa powder.
  • To get the icing super smooth on the cake: put on your final layer of icing, place the knife or off set spatula in some very hot water for 10 seconds, wipe dry on a tea towel and then use the warm blade to smooth over the icing. Repeat a few times for each side and top of the cake. Dont over do it or the icing starts to melt.
  • Choose colours to suit your childs favourite colour e.g. shades of pink, blue or red.

Serving Suggestions


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