I've come to realise that cake may be the very last medium to challenge gender stereotypes: a realisation compounded by this:
Customers looking for a cake for a husband, father, son or boyfriend come to me empty-handed when it comes to ideas, unless therecipient is a football or golf fan. Then at least we have a ball to play with. Of course, a talented fondant baker would be able to craft a seaworthy catamaran. I’m not a fan of novelty cakes, so would recommend a fun drip, like the one above, or a concrete finish.
Here I was compelled to include a rugby ball, but it’s chocolate so didn’t involve any modelling, and it doesn’t look too cartoony. You can throw all sorts of fun stuff on a drip cake: macaroons, meringue kisses, rainbow popcorn, sweets, cookies, chocolate sails. The more the better. Sparkler candles add a bit of theatre, or a fountain candle, but check with your venue as they can set fire alarms and sprinklers off.
Concrete cakes are brilliantly versatile. They can be given a feminine finish with fresh or piped flowers, but with a metallic chocolate sail and glossy drip they’re super man-friendly.
A more elaborate cake could be achieved buy going down the geode route. Don’t expect this to be cheap: sugar crystals take a week to grow and the edge really needs to definition of a gold or copper leaf. But they look brilliantly dramatic in a dark colour and suit a grown-up venue.
Another idea is to go down the retro route. Fondant didn’t always dominate celebration cake design. We all grew up with clumsily piped but irresistibly delicious buttercream birthday cakes, topped with Subutteo footballers or a Sindy torso. If you want to make your own man-cake why not buy one of every item in the confectionery aisle and build a Swiss roll train pulling wagons piled up with jelly babies and Liquorish Allsorts?
I recently found a 1970s cake book full of ideas for animal cakes, all created from a rectangle. This lion is my favourite, and went down a storm at my 19 year old son’s birthday, until everyone realised the frosting wasn’t Caramac flavoured. So ungrateful, but an important lesson learned: don’t replicate the colour of a well-loved product in buttercream without going the whole hog with the flavour as well.