With so many little kids around, you think I would be a pro at making birthday cakes by now. Let's see, I have made 6+3+2 for the kids... that's 11, and then 7 cakes for my husband, so that makes 18, not counting the valentine parties and other assorted get-togethers I have hosted throughout the years. Eighteen cakes should teach me a thing or two about how to make and decorate a great birthday cake shouldn't it?
Here is some of the wisdom I have learned through the years:
1. 7 minute frosting isn't literally seven minute frosting... especially if the recipe calls for a double boiler and an electric beater (on high), and all you have is a glass bowl balanced on top of a little pot of water, a wire whisk, and a baby on your hip. Make that a crying baby on your hip, and another one crying upstairs in the crib. In that case, it's more like 45-minute-when-is-this-stupid-icing-going-to-be-done-so-I-can-rest-my-weary-arms frosting.
2. Don't bother making time-consuming intricate designs on the cake with icing if you aren't using the right kind of frosting, because it all just melts into big globs anyways. Unless of course you were going for that look in the first place.
3. If you are stacking layers up for your cake, make sure the layers are flat and not dome shaped... especially if you are trying to stack up four layers really tall and you want them to stay on top of each other, and not slip and slide around and end up like the leaning tower of Pisa.. or worse, like my toddler's sandwiches after she's pulled them apart and smeared them all over her plate.
4. Don't leave your toddler unsupervised while you are attempting to decorate said cake. Especially when there is a relatively full bottle of ketchup within her reach.
5. Always grease and flour your cake pans. Especially if a key part of your recipe is actually being able to remove the cake from it's pan in one piece... say if you are going to cut it creatively into the shape of a teddy bear.
6. If your cake doesn't come out of the pan in one piece (saying you didn't listen to the advice in number 5), just use lots of icing to stick it back together. Just don't expect it to look much better than a toddler's mud pie with crumbs of cake mushed throughout the icing.
7. While we're on the topic of icing (which seems to be my downfall), don't expect butter cream icing made from fake butter to hold up really well at room temperature. Especially if you want it to stick to the sides of a cake instead of drip slowly down into a big puddle around the bottom of the cake. This is especially important if you are using said icing to cover up all of the pieces you have stuck together that wouldn't come out of the cake pan.
8. Chocolate icing was not meant to be colored with food coloring. You get a very interesting looking cake if you try to do it anyways. Brownish-red, brownish-yellow, and brownish-blue aren't very appetizing.
9. If you let your kids help you decorate the cake, you can always blame all of the above on their 'help'... if your conscience will let you, that is.
10. The only thing that really matters about a homemade cake, is that it's homemade with love... and that there are candles on top that they can blow out to the song sang just for them. (that is if you remember to buy candles... although there's always the tea lights on your mantle or the pillar candle on the dining room table if all else fails. Just don't forget where the matches are).
Check out my gallery of beautiful cakes in the link below: