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You're just about finished with all of your plans for your child's birthday. Then, he or she mentions that a cake that looks like a dinosaur or Thomas the Train would be the perfect gift. Suddenly, your idea to whip up a quick cake mix the night before the big day is not looking so good. How can you create a cake like the one your child wants? Often, the answer is to just look at pictures of birthday cakes other people have made for inspiration.
When you see a picture of the cake you want to make, go ahead and take a few moments to look at the whole thing. Before you start to panic, remember that the cake was probably built from smaller cake parts. The cake pieces are glued together with icing and then the whole cake is covered with more icing to hide the seams.
Take a hard look at the picture of the cake and think about what shapes were used to make it. Perhaps a few small circle cakes were cut in half to make train wheels, while half of a slightly larger circle made the train's face. A few inches could be cut from a rectangular cake to make a smoke stack and the rest of the rectangle could be the body of the train.
If you want to make a special birthday cake, you probably don't want to start with a store bought cake mix. Usually, these mixes turn out okay, but they aren't quite as rich as a cake made completely from scratch. There are literally thousands of birthday cake recipes, but most of them are variations on a few basic cakes.
Finding the right recipe can be as simple as calling an older relative and asking for instructions on making his or her favorite cake. Here is one recipe for hot milk cake that has been devoured by several generations of happy boys and girls on their birthdays. You will need: one cup of milk, one stick of butter, two cups of sugar, four eggs, two cups of sifted flour, three teaspoons of baking powder, a dash of salt and a teaspoon of vanilla.
To make the cake, heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan. Blend the eggs and sugar together. Gradually blend in the flour and the hot ingredients. Then, blend in the remaining ingredients. Bake the cake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. When it is cool, frost it with your favorite icing or use a simple topping of a teaspoon of cinnamon mixed with a half cup of sugar.
If you don't want to pay for an expensive, custom-made cake you can create your own. However, how exactly do you make a pony- or rocket-shaped birthday cake?
Before baking some cake and trying to sculpt it with a knife, see what you have to work with by taking inventory of all of your cake pans (circular, square, rectangular, bundt, etc.).
Next, cut all of the shapes out using pieces of paper and practice fitting them together or cutting them strategically. This way you'll know what fits together before you cut up your cake!
Here's a great birthday cake idea: To make an easy turtle cake, bake 4 cupcakes and use the rest of the cake batter in a 2.5 quart round oven proof bowl to make the turtle's body. Cut 2 cupcakes in half and use the 4 pieces for legs. For the head, take the other two cupcakes and frost them together. Use gumdrops for eyes. Black licorice strips can make the toes, tail, and mouth. Green frosting or green tinted coconut can be used to decorate the round turtle body.
Birthday cakes are great but one of the best birthday cake ideas ever thought up was the ice cream cake. Yum...the best of both worlds. While many people routinely buy ice cream birthday cakes, they're really not that hard to make. To make your own ice cream cake, follow these instructions:
If you are having a really big birthday party, you most likely cannot just make one huge birthday cake (unless you have an industrial-sized oven). You have a few options if you want to feed a crowd. Here are some great birthday cake ideas to accommodate the masses:
If you want to serve cupcakes rather than large birthday cake be creative about it. Presentation is important so make a design using the cupcakes. An idea is to use the cupcakes to make a bouquet of balloons, one for each child. Follow the instructions below:
Do you want to create a fun birthday cake for your little darling's birthday? Design your own shape to go with the theme of the party or your child's favorite animal. Before you go butchering cake and jamming the pieces together, however, make sure you know what you're doing. If you cut and frost different cake pieces together, here are a few tips:
You've got the cake, the decorations and the tablecloth. Now, all you need are some new birthday candles. This is going to be the easiest purchase you've ever made. After all, candles are candles, right? Actually, there are quite a few choices when it comes to birthday candles. To make the right decision, you should:
If your birthday cake design calls for some fancy decorating or writing, you have a few options. The easy way out is to use the small tubes of gel icing that you can pick up at any grocery store. Using prepackaged icing, you can easily create pretty colorful designs or lettering without much fuss. However, if you want to get in touch with your artistic side, there are more creative alternatives. Do you want icing that is your daughter's favorite shade of blue or the exact gray of Babar's skin? Using a simple recipe online or one from a cookbook, whip up some simple icing. Next, create that shade you're looking for using food coloring. Using a spatula, take a sandwich baggie and fill it with the frosting. Then, seal the top of the bag. Next, snip a small corner off of the bag and squeeze the frosting out to make your designs and/or lettering. *If you need to, practice on a graham cracker or piece of wax paper. But remember, you're making a family birthday cake and no one expects it to look like a Monet painting!
A birthday cake is traditional, but if your kids don't like cake come up with your own unique tradition. Likewise, families of children with food allergies or sensitivities can come up with their own special dessert to celebrate birthdays. Here are some great alternative ideas:
If your kid wants a birthday cake with a special theme and you're up for designing your own, don't forget about using stainless steel bowls to bake a cake in. This will get you a nice rounded cake, perfect for turtles, lady bugs, and other round animals. Use some of the batter to make cupcakes in addition to the large round cake. Use the cupcakes for heads and feet, depending on the animal you're trying to create. You'll have to adjust the baking time, of course.
Deeper cakes are going to take a bit longer to cook thoroughly. Stick a toothpick down into the center of the cake and pull it out when you think the cake is done. If it comes out clean, it's done. If it comes out with some gooey cake batter, put the cake back in the oven for a bit and keep an eye on it.
Leave your birthday guests fluttering with a spectacular cake. One birthday cake idea is to bake a 9x13 cake and cut into pieces that fit together to make a butterfly. Follow the instructions below: • Let the cake cool completely before cutting and decorating.
Remember when birthday cakes were simple round cakes with white or chocolate icing? Well, you can still get a traditional cake, but today's birthday cakes come in many more shapes and sizes. In fact, there are birthday cake designs for almost any theme, no matter how obscure it is.
If you are making the cake yourself, you may want to look for special birthday cake pans. Barney the purple dinosaur, Barbie and even horseshoes are a few of the options available. Simply buy a cake mix in the birthday boy or girl's favorite flavor and mix it up according to the directions on the box. Make sure the pan is nice and clean, grease it and pour in the mix. After it cooks, let it cool and carefully remove it from the pan. Ice it with different colors of icing to make it look more realistic and you have a cake in the shape of the character or object.
For people who can't boil water, there's another option. Look for a themed cake topper and put it on a standard sheet cake or round cake from the bakery. Toppers come in an amazing variety of themes, from Spiderman to Dora the Explorer. They are a nice option, since these birthday cake designs can be keepsakes of the special day long after a character shaped cake has been eaten.
Do you have a birthday cake idea but are hesitant to try it? Here are some tips to help your baking go smoothly:
Over the years, I've come up with a few great treat ideas that are healthy to boot. One year we made carrot cake cupcakes. The kids loved them because they were just like cupcakes and the teacher approved because they were actually little healthy carrot cakes. Another year we brought in a huge fruit tray (the kind you can get in the produce section of most grocery stores). It was a bit costly, but the kids absolutely loved it. If you really can't find a suitable snack idea, do what we did for our daughter. When she was in preschool, there were two boys in her class with severe allergies so we didn't want to risk anything. Instead of bringing in a snack, we brought in a goody bag filled with an assortment of crayons, pencils, stickers, etc. The kids absolutely loved them.
For a fun kid birthday cake, learn to make your own shaped cakes at home. Many magazines and web sites have simple plans for making animals and other shapes from common round or square cakes you can bake yourself. You can make children, dogs, fish, cats, and more.
One birthday cake idea is to use tinted coconut to decorate. Shake some shredded coconut in a jar with a few drops of food coloring. Frost the cake and then use the tinted coconut on top of the frosting. It can make an animal-shaped cake look more realistic. Not everyone likes coconut though, so you might leave some spots bare of coconut for those folks. Use candy like red and black licorice, jelly beans, and hard candies to decorate your kid birthday cake as well.
Was your birthday boy or girl born during the cold winter months? Does he/she love to ski? Or maybe his/her birthday is taking place during the Winter Olympics? Whatever the cold weather connection, a birthday cake decorated with snow and ice is sure to add a festive chill to your celebration. Make your cake's white icing look more like snow by adding flake cocoanut; it makes great moguls! You can also create a ski slope by baking several rectangular cake layers, stacking them and then making a diagonal cut. Add skiier figurines that you can purchase at your local craft store. For cake pans specifically shaped for skiing, shop at companies like Wilton.
When it comes to your birthday cake design, do you feel like it's looking a bit dull? Grocery store icings and food coloring can look a bit lackluster so, if you really want to make your cake shine, take a few tips from the pros. Go to your local arts and crafts stores and look for paste food coloring. You can buy a set of mixed paste colors or just a small tub of each color that you like. The paste food coloring makes much more vibrant colors and will last much longer than the grocery store liquid food colorings. Use a toothpick to add just a dab to each batch of frosting. You'll be amazed at how little you need to use to get rich bright colors.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|