Growing up, I remember watching my dad make and decorate cakes for friends and coworkers. He’d make them for celebrations, people moving on, cook-outs, and birthdays. It’s funny. I remember going with him to buy any items he needed that he didn’t already have and going with him to specialty stores looking for the right stuff. (One time we went to a handful of Asian grocery stores in search of real-deal fortune cookies for one cake.) After borrowing crayons and colored pencils and creating sketches, and after getting all the necessary supplies, my dad would move to the kitchen. And he would set up camp. And he would be there for awhile. And you would here a whole lot of grunts and noises and a few occasional complaints come from the kitchen. My sister and I just kind of new that when Dad was set up in the kitchen, you stayed away. The next morning, I’d venture into the kitchen for breakfast before school and his masterpiece would be sitting on the counter. In the end, despite all of his irritations, my dad’s cakes always came out great. And everyone loved them. Except my dad. He always found something wrong with them that no one else could see. I even remember a cake or two that after spending all that time making it and bringing it in, he didn’t claim ownership of the cake because the mint from the icing had seeped into the cake and the cake was a touch minty.
So after watching him all that time and seeing how much it frustrated him, I couldn’t understand why he kept making them.
Enter my new life. And cake. I understand now. 🙂
Here are my cakes. They range from extreme novice, to not quite as novice but a far cry from professional. 🙂
2007 – My first cake was for my husband’s 27th birthday. With my baby in her highchair in the kitchen with me, I set out to make a cake that looked like a book. My husband loves to read and so I thought “how awesome would that be”. I had never attempted truly baking anything before this, so I used a boxed mix and store-bought icing.
2008 – My second cake took me until about 3 am to finish decorating. It was for my daughter’s 2nd birthday. I used the character cake pan and either used a boxed cake mix and made my own icing, or made my own cake and used store-bought icing. And I proceeded to use a piping bag with a star tip to fill in the Abby Kadabby character. Aside from it being a little small and taking FOREVER to fill in, it turned out well. And disappeared quickly. 🙂
2009 – For the hubby’s 29th birthday, I made him a cake with his favorite childhood character on it – He-Man. The cake was my own yellow cake with caramel swirls and I used a basic white vanilla frosting. The frosting was divided up into all the colors I needed and instead of using the dreaded star tip, I used a small round tip to fill it all in. It was a hit. 🙂
2009 – Emboldened by my success at drawing He-Man on the hubby’s cake, I decided to tackle my daughter’s 3rd birthday head-on. The theme she had chosen for this birthday was ‘Princess’ and so my in-law’s house was decorated with Disney Princesses. For the cake, well, why not a castle? Both layers of the castle are two layers a piece and are made of funfetti cake covered in buttercream frosting. The turrets are two kinds of ice cream cones. The bottom parts are regular ice cream cones “painted” with pink icing and the tops are waffle cones turned upside down and “painted” with purple icing. The drawbridge is graham crackers with the doorway being pieces of a Hershey’s chocolate bar. The “chains” are Twizzlers.
2009 – For my father-in-law’s birthday, I made him a pumpkin spice cake (it is two layers because the single-layer came out so thin) covered with a caramel icing. My hubby said this icing tasted like liquid Werther’s original candies. The leaves, since it’s October, were made with a store-bought white fondant that I folded color into using Wilton icing colors.
2010 – For my baby’s first birthday, I stuck to simplicity. And made a giant number one. 🙂 Seriously though, it was pretty large. I made two large rectangle made-from-scratch white cakes and then cut them and rearranged them until I was satisfied. I then made a small second layer with my baby’s name. It all got covered with my own light buttercream. Since there wasn’t a theme, we had just stuck to pastel pinks, purples, and yellows.
2011 – For my baby’s 2nd birthday, she picked out a lot of Dora decorations for her party. There was a lot of flowers and sunflowers on the decorations, so I decided to take the sunflower idea and roll with it. The cake is two layers with a nice thick layer of icing in between. The bottom layer is my own Chocolate Buttermilk Cake, the middle icing is my White Chocolate Butter Frosting, and the top layer is my own White Cake. Everything is covered and decorated with my Buttercream Frosting except for the lettering. The lettering is a gel from the store.
2012 – My mom and her co-workers threw a baby shower for a fellow co-worker and my mom asked me to do the cupcakes. I made my Fluffy White Cake cupcakes topped with my Espresso Cream Frosting, which I tinted blue since the guest of honor was expecting a boy this time around. I got a sugar sheet from the store and cut out a bunch of little footprints to top the cupcakes. Some say ‘Oh boy!’, ‘Sweet Baby’, and ‘Pitter Patter’. The guest of honor had the soon-to-be big sister with her at the baby shower and so I made a giant White Cake cupcake topped with pink Buttercream Frosting. The giant cupcake had a shooting star on top that said ‘Big Sister’. 🙂
2012 – When a good friend of mine started planning her daughter’s birthday, I asked to make the cake. Turns out, the birthday girl wanted a rockstar themed cake. Challenge accepted. The bottom-most layer is the stage and is made out of two layers of my Fluffy White Cake with a layer of my Oreo Frosting in between. It is covered in a pink Buttercream Frosting with store-bought dark purple fondant that I sprayed (with a food coloring spray) black to mimic stage curtains. The two round layers are also two layers each of my Fluffy White Cake with a layer of my Oreo Frosting in between the layers. They are covered with a dark purple Buttercream Frosting with stripes of store-bought dark purple fondant. The guitar on the bottom stage layer was made out of the dark purple fondant as well as a white fondant. The store-bought white fondant was also used to make the music notes that are around the black curtains. I used store-bought sugar sheets to draw and then cut out the silhouettes surrounding the two round layers. The bottom round layer has the audience rocking out, the top round layer has the band. And then, on top of it all, is the Rock Star. The rock star and the letters of the guest of honor’s name were made using store-bought gum paste. The letters were sprayed with a dark purple food color spray.
2012 – For my youngest daughter’s 3rd birthday, she went with a Very Hungry Caterpillar theme. (I had A LOT of fun with that!) So I made her a Very Hungry Caterpillar cake. I made all of it with my Fluffy White Cake that I threw some sprinkles into to mimic the popular funfetti cake. To get the bumps of the caterpillar, I baked all of the cakes in a bundt pan that I then cut apart in between the bumps and reassembled to create the caterpillar. I made a couple cupcakes with the same cake batter to use for the caterpillar’s head and for the face of the sun. Everything is covered in a streaked-green butter frosting that I actually piped on using a very large round tip. The feet of the caterpillar are brownie bites I found at the bakery at Target and the butterflies are cookies from Target. I covered the feet with a black icing to help them blend in a little better. 🙂
2012 – This year, for my oldest’s birthday, we went with a soccer theme for the cake since she had just started playing and was very into it. The inside of the cake is where she got fancy. 😉 She asked for the bottom layer to be my Chocolate Buttermilk Cake, and the top layer to be my fluffy Pumpkin Spice Cake. For the icing holding them together, she wanted a Brown Sugar Frosting. (As a side note, this stuff is so super delicious you’ll want it just by itself!) Everything is covered and then decorated using a Buttercream frosting.
2013 – This one felt like a little of a backtrack for me. So for her 4th birthday, my youngest wanted a Lalaloopsy cake. Her original request had somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 or 6 characters. I told her we had to rein that in a bit. So she opted for her (at the moment) favorite with her little sister – Tippy Tumblelina and Twisty Tumblelina. It is two layers of my version of the funfetti cake with my Oreo Frosting in the middle. I used Buttercream Frosting to cover everything and to decorate it. All the black seen on the cake was done with a Wilton tube of black frosting.
2014 – I got to make the cake again for my friend’s little girl. This year, the birthday girl wanted a gymnastics themed cake with neon pink and neon orange and purple. She requested Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting which I used for the top round layer. The birthday girl also requested Chocolate Cake with Oreo Frosting which I used for the bottom layers (there were 3 layers of cake down there!). I hand drew the gymnasts silhouettes on purple fondant and cut them out. I also used the purple fondant for the letters, the number 8, and polka dots. The silhouette on top, as well as the stars, are made out of gum paste. The silhouettes and polka dots go all the way around.