Frog Cake Designs – More than 200 spectacular kinds of frogs, including one made nearly entirely of sugar, may be found in Australia. In its native Adelaide, the frog cake is a delicious delicacy in the form of a crouching amphibian that has just been recognized as a South Australian Heritage Icon.
The sponge cake and buttercream filling that are the foundation of the frog cake are connected by a thin layer of jam. A slit is cut into the creamy “head” to make a mouth, and two tiny fondant eyes are placed on top to complete the transformation of this pastry into a frog.
In 1922, the Adelaide-based Balfours Bakery invented the frog cake. According to legend, Gordon Balfour was motivated by the imaginative candy he discovered while traveling around Europe. Balfours’ frog cakes were first only available in green, but they eventually expanded into pink and brown flavors as well as special colors for neighborhood sports teams.
Sugary, hand-crafted, and adorable, these iconic cakes are reason enough for most sweet-toothed humans to make contact with a frog’s lips. Unfortunately, due to the fragility of the cakes, Balfours’ frogs are largely endemic to Australia.
Frog Birthday Cakes
Frog Cakes are little cakes with a jam filling between two layers of sponge, topped with a fake cream dome, and iced with fondant. A “mouth” is created by slicing a hole in the dome and piping two fondants “eyes” on top. In 2001, Balfours Bakeries’ Frog Cakes received formal recognition as a South Australian icon.
The residents of Adelaide treasure frog cakes as a distinctive regional dish. After a vacation to Europe, a member of the Balfour family introduced them. These resemble Swedish Princess Cakes in certain ways. It’s doubtful that they served as a direct inspiration for the frogs, though, given that the recipe for them was originally published in the 1930s.
The accepted story of its introduction to the Balfour range is open to question. Wikipedia (yes, Frog Cakes warrant their own Wikipedia entry) asserts that the cakes first appeared in 1922, introduced by Gordon Balfour on his return from overseas. The problem with this story is that Gordon didn’t go overseas until 1928. In fact, in 1922, he was still attending Prince Alfred College in Adelaide. Perhaps it was his father, Jack Balfour, who introduced the Frog Cake after his 1923 trip. He did visit Paris, where French pâtissiers were already making fondant-covered petit fours. So maybe the frog traveled from France to a new home in the antipodes.
Because the cakes were widely imitated, Balfours registered the name and shape of Frog Cakes as a trademark in 2001. For many years they were available only in South Australia. However, Balfours was acquired by San Remo Macaroni Company in 2008 and now has a second factory in Sydney. As a result, the cakes are now available in New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria.
The original Frog Cakes were green, but pink and brown varieties were later introduced. Special colors are also sometimes produced for particular occasions – for example, red frogs for Christmas. Balfour also sponsors AFL football matches between the two Adelaide teams and produces frogs in team colors for the event. People have even been known to have wedding cakes constructed of white frogs, croquembouche-style.
Frog Cakes do not travel well. When I took on the task of writing their company history, Balfours sent me some by courier. Unfortunately, the froggies were traveling during the hottest couple of days of the 2018 summer. And no one had taken care to put a ‘this way up’ sticker on the package. When they arrived the poor things had been upside down and the green icing had melted. Not the cute little frogs I’d anticipated.
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