Like many Australians, some of Sylvia Jeffreys' favourite childhood memories are punctuated by the scent of freshly baked goods.
They reside fondly alongside the sensation of licking a wooden spoon and the joy of running a finger greedily around the bowl of leftover cake batter.
And in each of them, sitting on a floury bench, is a well-thumbed copy of The Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book.
Her mother Janine may not have been the most accomplished baker, laughs Sylvia today, but she was certainly enthusiastic when it came to nailing the perfect birthday cake for each of her three children.
"I had the telephone cake, plus I had the swimming pool cake when I was a teenager," she recalls with a smile.
"Mum says she made the pool because I was a good swimmer and the phone because I loved a chat, and neither of those things has changed!
My sister Claire had the telephone cake and she also had the sweet shop. My brother Andrew had the cricket pitch and I think the racetrack. It was a well-used book in my household."
Claire has continued the Jeffreys family tradition with her own kids: the famous elephant cake was a triumphant accomplishment for her nephew Lewis on his recent second birthday. And Sylvia is determined to do the same when her own six-month-old son Oscar turns one.
"The beauty of these cakes is that you don't have to be a master baker, you just have to have a bit of patience and creativity," she says.
"If you follow the instructions, you can create something very special."
Having bought herself a Mixmaster ("a lot of people tell me that when they brought out the Mixmaster, their kids knew something special was coming," she says), first on her agenda is the racetrack cake she's creating for our Test Kitchen today.
"Oscar is a very fast baby, so I assume racetracks are going to suit him," Sylvia reveals of her choice, which she adds is also suitably straightforward.
Plus she'll need the practice: not only does she have to be ready for her son's birthday in February, but as the proud national ambassador for Youngcare, Sylvia's doing a test run ahead of their 15th birthday fundraiser – a bake-off (click here for the details).
The charity aims to provide choice, care, housing and support for young people with disabilities – an effort that has proved especially crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many of those affected have been more isolated than ever.
"And they've been living not only in isolation, but in fear," Sylvia says. "So many have underlying health issues that make them so vulnerable to this virus."
"We might have relaxed and be able to go out, but they can't afford to take that risk."
WATCH BELOW: The Weekly's Food Editor Fran Abdallaoui teaches you to make an Aussie classic: lamingtons! Story continues below.
With our Children's Birthday Cake Cookbook also celebrating a significant birthday this year – 40 years of cakes – The Weekly is joining forces with Youngcare to help drum up awareness and support for the cause.
For every copy sold on The Weekly's website while this issue is on sale, we will be donating $1 to Youngcare.
We'll also be adding in a prize for all enthusiastic cake bakers across Australia! See the opposite page for details on how you can enter your own cakes while supporting a good cause at the same time.
Discover more on how the Youngcare #YOURCAKE challenge is helping Aussie carers here.
Read the full article in the September issue of The Australian Women's Weekly, on sale now.