Who would have guessed that South Australia’s most iconic cake is actually a “frog cake”? When you think about Australia, you think about a koala, a kangaroo, a platypus… but a frog?!
But it is true and it is a popular cake which was created in 1922 by the famous Balfours Bakery and they became the mascot of this institution. It is said that the creator found his inspiration after traveling to France!!! I am not showing off… I am just telling what I know 😉 Afterall, aren’t French people called “the frogs” or in Aussie language “the froggies”? My theory is that Mr Balfour felt in love with France and one of our iconic cute pastry called “petit cochon” (little pig) and he thought that it would be so nice to have a cute animal shape cake in his shop that would remind him of France and French people, and tada the frog cake was born! Hey… a French girl can dream?! Anyway good on him…because like I said it was a huge success. In 2001, the frog cake was listed as a state heritage icon of South Australia… so you’d better respect the frog!
So basically a frog cake is is a very sweet dessert with the shape of a frog’s head with its mouth opened. The texture is pretty smooth: it is a sponge base with cream and covered with thick layer of fondant icing. Originally you could only find those in green colour (most popular choice) but with the success they also created a pink and a brown frog! I think they look adorable and they must be lovely for tea time, they add colour to the table and give a kind of Alice in wonderland style!
A lovely exhibition took place recently in Adelaide to celebrate this iconic South Australian dessert! One hundred artists and institutions (School, hospital staffs etc) were given a ceramic Frog cake (3 times the size of a normal cake). They were asked to imagine their own frog cake for this special event raising funds for mental health. What a lovely and inspiring idea I must say…
When I heard about this exhibition, my curiosity was challenged and I had to go. First because I have seen those unusual cakes a couple of months ago but never imagined it was part of SA culture. Secondly I loved the idea that they turned this classic cake that seems to be quite ordinary as birthdays treat into something creative, original and extraordinary!
My friend Nasim (from Iran) was happy to join me in this adventure! We are the same we like to discover more about our new culture! Futhermore, she loves art so it was really interesting to visit this gallery together and share our opinions.
The ceramic frogs were nicely decorated, it was very creative since each artist gave its own vision. We saw great pieces and we actually spent a lot of time gazing at each one and trying to understand the point of view of the artist.
We particularly both enjoyed Emma Hack’s work (she is a famous for her body painting and owns an art gallery in North Adelaide), her ceramic frog was the expression of beautiful mother nature.
I also liked Sophia Nuske’s frog and the Women’s and Children’s hospital’s decorated frog. There were many beautiful smily frogs and I wish I could get one for my home!
I have really enjoyed this exhibition and I thought it was a beautiful way to honor and celebrate this South Australian heritage. Nearly all the cute frogs were sold to help a good cause!
It seems that South Australians still have a sweet spot in their heart for this unusual but classic little froggie cake ❤
Sadly the exhibition in Light Square Gallery is already over but if you have missed your chance, you can always cheer you up by biting into this typical South Australian cake… and what a better place than the iconic Balfours Bakery! For those who are not into frogs they also offer an amazing range of pies that must be delicious! As for me, it should not be an issue, since French people have the reputation to eat frogs legs and to LOVE it… so this sweet version should be a… piece of cake for me haha!
Balfours Bakery – baking since 1853
91 Exeter Tce
Dudley Park, SA 5008
Tel. 08 8368 5305