Category Archives: Birthday Cakes

Lumberjack Party

Last weekend, the kids and I had a lumberjack first birthday to attend for my best friend’s son.  I was of course commissioned to do the cake, but I always am from her!  I have been helping make her kids goodies since before I made goodies for anyone else.  I am not even sure why I let her pay me because I would do it for free just like I always have, but she insists.  Maybe she is hoping I will quit my job and bake cakes so that when she convinces her hubs that she can quit hers, she can come drink wine with me in my kitchen.  Hey, we can all have dreams, right?

It is February, so the plan was dress like a lumberjack in your fleece, eat chili, snuggle up outside under some blankets, and roast some marshmallows.  Well, turns out it was 65 degrees and sunny outside…in February…CRAZY!  We still ate chili and did turn on the fire for the kids to make a smore, but mostly, the kids played on the swing set and the adults talked.

To go with her lumberjack/outdoor theme, she wanted a bear cake and a smash cake of any kind.  We tacked on the cookies later when I found this cute buffalo plaid stencil to try my new air brush kit my sister got me for Christmas. I started with the cookies a few days before the party.  They took a couple days to complete for drying time.  I baked them on one day, iced the red the next, did the stencil on the third, and then the white icing on the fourth day.  I wanted to make sure the red royal icing was really dry before I laid a stencil on it.  I am still not sure at what point royal icing is deemed dry, but since I can only work on these things at night, I just go with the next day.

This is when I wish I had a projector or a KopyKake to help with the design on top.  Trying to freehand is really hard.  My momma told me maybe I should find a projector solution to put on my Christmas list….and I agree!  Anyway, we did with what we had and I did different designs on different cookies.  Here is the name and lumberjack up close.

Once I had the whole lot of them done, I made sure they were good and dry before I individually packed them for the party.

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Lumberjack Party Cookies

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Wrapped Lumberjack Cookies

Now that the cookies were done, onto the cakes!  Both cakes were fairly easy to assemble. The bear cake took one 10″ round, one 6″ round, and two 4″ rounds.  The setup looked like this:

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Bear Cake Setup

Once stacked, I frosted the light brown color first on the nose and ear areas.  Then, with my “hair” tip, I added the brown fur to the rest of the bear head.  All that was left was the little bit of black detail for the eyes, nose and mouth.  It was a simple but cute design.

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Bear Cake

The last thing was the smash cake.  My friend wanted something simple that her son could break into during the party.  I was pondering what to do as I was staring at all the extra icing I had from the bear cake.  Then it hit me…  Lumberjack…Lumber…Stump.  And better yet, it used nearly all the same colors as the bear.  Win Win.  The smash cake was a two layer 4″ cake.  I frosted the whole cake brown and messed the sides with a fork and toothpick to try and mimic bark.  I added the light brown “rings” on top to resemble the cut wood.  At that point, I wasn’t convinced that there was no question that the cake was a stump.  So I added roots and some grass to the bottom which I think helped.

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Tree Stump Smash Cake

The whole set was fun to do and my friend loved it.  Doing kids parties are my favorite for the themes alone.  I have another one this weekend, so look out for that post next week.  I am OFFICIALLY caught up.  YAY ME!

Clara

 

Dinosaur Cake

My very first cake of 2017, was for a friend and former coworker.   She asked if I could make a dinosaur cake for her little boy, Owen.  Owen wanted a blue dinosaur with green accents and made out of chocolate cake. Easy enough!  She had sent me some examples off of Pinterest of dinosaur cakes she liked made of both cake and cupcakes. Outside of Owen’s requirements, she was pretty much giving me free reign.  None of the pictures quite spoke to me so I started looking at pictures myself.  I wanted a version of a dinosaur that I could make out of one batch of cake since that was about what she needed. I ended up merging a couple different designs that I saw into this cake design.  Believe it or not, this is made of two 8″ round cakes.

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Chocolate Cake Rounds

One of the rounds made up the main body.  It was cut straight down the middle and set on the flat ends.  The other round was cut into various shapes to make the rest of dinosaur. I wish I would have taken a picture of the template but I did keep it for future reference, so maybe next time.  You can kind of gather by the picture below the set up though.  The tail was an outer crescent of the cake, and the rest went toward the head, neck, and feet. There was very, very little scrap left which is was I was going for.

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Dinosaur cake setup using two 8″ rounds

Once I had the structure of the cake complete, I started icing using a star tip.  I like using the star tip for cakes like this because it is really hard to get smooth icing on cakes with a lot of pieces and crevices and I refuse to use fondant. I started by icing all of the blue first leaving a space for the eyes and nostrils.  Then I filled in the eyes and nostrils and touched up any blue around those areas.

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Blue Dinosaur in Progress

Last, I printed a template for a diamond shape and used it under wax paper to make some green chocolate scales.  When I am going to be sticking an accent into a cake, I like to use chocolate since it is much sturdier than royal icing and will withstand being pushed into the icing and cake.

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Blue Dinosaur Cake

The green added a nice touch and a pop of color.  Way to go Owen.  The cake turned out really cute and I think he liked it, even though he was too shy to say so. I am glad I kept all the templates because I see myself making this one again with all the little boys in my life.

Clara

Black and White Birthday Cake

Back in December, my niece was not the only one with a birthday.  Actually, we have lots of December birthdays in the family, but my only other birthday cake was for my father-in-law.  This is what the beginning of December looked like at the end of one night of baking. Cakes for days…..

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Cakes ready for the freezer

Those white cakes were for my father-in-law.  He is a white cake with chocolate buttercream kind of guy.  I love this combination because when you cut into the cake, the crisp lines of white cake sandwiched between layers of chocolate buttercream is really pretty.  I should have taken a picture of it cut, but once again, I failed.

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White cake with chocolate buttercream

This cake was fairly easy to throw together.  I make this chocolate buttercream using my usual buttercream recipe however, when I add the milk and vanilla, I add about a half to 3/4 of a cup of cocoa powder.  Once mixed in, I complete the rest of the recipe.  At the end, I adjust the consistency with some milk as the chocolate really thickens up the mixture.

For the top, I had some left over chocolate from making homemade thin mints that I didn’t want to throw away.  I spread the extra chocolate on a piece of parchment paper and let dry.  Once it was set up, I cut “shards” of chocolate and stuck them in the cake.  It was a simple design that adds a little wow factor.

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White cake with chocolate buttercream

This cake was only assembled for approximately 2 hours before we devoured it.  Enough time for people to arrive at the house, eat dinner, and have the kids sing Happy Birthday to their grandpa!

Clara

Paw Patrol Cake (and Cookies!)

The first cake of 2017 is already in the books.  This past weekend, my little guy turned three!  I don’t feel old enough to have my youngest be three, but here we are.  On top of that, he decided on his birthday that we were done with diapers and pull ups.  Just like that, we are a big boy.  Well this three year old has been requesting a Paw Patrol birthday since before Christmas.  As far as kid shows go, it is not a bad one.  His favorite Paw Patroller is Marshall, the fireman pup.  I was thinking I was going to do something with Marshall for the cake, but my mom offered to help with some sugar cookies for the party and they had a strong fireman theme.  So I went for the classic dog bone in the Paw Patrol primary colors.  It was a pretty simple cake design.  The hardest part was making sure I had all my portions right so that I had a nice even bone.  (Thanks Mom for the kitchen scale!)  I ended up using my new 4″ cake pans and a loaf pan to get the shape.  Once the cakes were baked and cooled, I froze them to I could work with them better to get my shape.  Here was the layout I went with.  Using three rounds and piecing together the scraps for the fourth circle prevented losing any cake to scrap.

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Bone Cake

Once I had my layout, the base icing was pretty straight forward.  I made a flat surface on top first with white icing.  Then I piped the sides vertically using a start tip in royal blue icing.  I merged my blue sides with the white top by using my star tip and making a boarder around the top rim. Lastly came the decoration on top.

I had a lot of questions about how I got that cute little shield on top looking so perfect.  Well I used a version of the transfer method.  I found one of the kids Paw Patrol coloring books and found a shield that was the right size for the space.  I placed a parchment paper over the coloring book and carefully piped the design. Once the design was finished, I carefully slid the parchment on a small cutting board and put it in the freezer. It will freeze in a short amount of time, maybe 5 minutes.   Once frozen, I CAREFULLY, with an offset spatula, slide under the shield on all sides to make sure it came free and transferred to the cake.  The buttercream will thaw quickly, so you don’t want to let it sit on the counter while you figure out placement.

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Paw Patrol Shield in Buttercream

After the shield was in place, I added little paw prints to the cake with the remaining icing.  While it was not one of my more elaborate cakes, it was definitely cute and my son adored it!

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Paw Patrol Cake

Now about those cookies!  My mom has really been getting into the sugar cookie making and decorating.  And of course, I want in!  So I went over to her house the week of the party to help her with the cookies.  Thankfully, due to her retirement, she had icing a cookies ready to go when I arrived after work.  Mixing royal icing colors takes forever! That will have to be a later post.  We had a lot of fun decorating cookies.  I find that decorating cookies is very relaxing and I enjoy it as much as cakes.  Look how cute these turned out!

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Paw Patrol Cookies

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Paw Patrol Cookies

Everyone raved about the Paw Patrol goodies and not a single one was left at the end of the party.  More importantly, my little guys had a blast at his party. Success!  Now to finally take down the decorations……

Clara

Happy 60th Birthday Momma!

Back in October, my mom celebrated her big sixtieth birthday.  We tried to keep parts of it a surprise, but my family lacks all self-control and she started to piece together that it was a little more than a close family “get-together”.  With that anticipation, she, of course, wanted to show up early.  My dad told me not to worry about it and he would make sure she arrived when she was supposed to.  There was a strong probability that she would just leave him and show up the hour and half early she wanted, but my dad held strong. Thanks Dad.  After she got over her initial irritation with him, a white lie I had told her, and the fact that I sent the grandkids away for the night, she started coming around.  As the night unfolded, I think she started to realize what was going on, the preparations it took, and the love and thought that was put into the night.

My sister and I planned for MONTHS!!!!  We poured over the menu for weeks, it took two months to get her birthday present together, bought decor and other items the whole month leading up to the party, and went to 5 grocery stores the day before the party.  More on the party details in a bit.  But the day went perfect (with exception of my moms short bout of irritation.) I made the cake two days before the party.  I could not have that stress with all the other party preparations. After my simple teal and coral baby shower cake with flowers, I wanted to continue with the flower theme for my mom.  Practice makes perfect, right?  Outside of the largest flowers, I did all the other flowers on a flower nail and placed them on the cake.  For the first time, I tried color streaking the icing to have some two tones flowers.  I couldn’t believe that it worked my first time.  It gave a little extra pop to the pink that I loved.  Maybe I will do a tutorial on this soon.

Once I had the larger flowers on the cake, I filled in with some smaller flowers and leaves. I then completed the cake with a vine and a couple more flowers on the other side.   Looking back on it, I wish I would have left the cake with just the crescent design, but my need for symmetry at the time won.  My mom loved it no less and that is all that matters.

Back to the party as a whole. We did want more than a get-together.  We planned more of a cocktail party.  High top tables, fancy hors d’oeuvre, light jazz, and a fun photo booth.  Our theme was “Cheers to 60 Years”and “Memories”.  We had about 40 people come and celebrate.  Even my dad’s family that lives in Valparaiso made the trip down and stayed in a hotel.  We had more food that we needed but it all looked amazing when put together. From an over the top charcuterie board to shrimp cocktail to mini caprese appetizers, we tried to make it look like we had it catered.  The photo booth, which was a way to help tie in our theme to make more memories, was a hit.  I got the image for the photo booth at this Etsy shop and then just sent the file to a printer.  Some funny pics are floating around somewhere.

However, my absolute favorite part was her gift and was the one thing she had absolutely no idea about.  It was not an original idea as I found it on Pinterest like everything else these days.  We gifted her 60 memories. I wrote to family and friends far and wide and asked them to write in a memory or two on my mom and was not disappointed from the response.  Letters came from Alaska, California, Florida, Texas, DC, and from all the family in Indiana.  I put each in an envelope, numbered it, and then bundled them together.  I didn’t want her to read them at the party as there were some tear jerkers in there, but I explained it all in my speech.  SHE LOVE IT!  She spent the night socializing with friends and family basking in her own glory which is what we were hoping. What else do you get a mom with everything….a party with her family and friends and a lifetime of memories. Happy Birthday Mom!

Clara

Elmo and Cookie Monster

Two catch-up posts in one day?!?!?  Now we are getting somewhere.   Back in October, a former coworker of mine asked if I could make a cake and cupcakes for her twins that were turning two.  The theme was Elmo and Cookie Monster which makes total sense given the age and, since they are boy/girl twins, it is a pretty gender neutral theme. It just so happens that before I baked cakes on a regular basis, I had done both of these themes for my oldest for his first and second birthday.  So this one was an easy yes.  I started by looking back at my old creations, and let me tell you, I was a little shocked.  They were not quite how I remembered them in my head.  I still liked the cupcakes mostly, but the cake….no.  The proportions were all off, the details were sloppy, the face was not as detailed.  It was one of those moments that you realize you have come a long way in a short amount of time.  So while I am not impressed with that cake at all, I am happy to see my progress from that short time ago.

I set out to do a better version of my former cake and cupcakes.  I started with cupcakes because the thought of mixing red icing was exhausting (more on that in a minute.)  I started by cutting my Oreo mouth pieces.  I split the Oreo’s, removed the filling, and then sawed through the cookies with a serrated knife. Don’t worry, my extra filling did not go to waste.  My husband stacked it into other Oreo’s to make some quadruple stuffed Oreo’s.  HAHA.  If you cut straight down, the cookie will break into multiple pieces, so you need to saw.  Next, I colored my tried and true buttercream icing recipe royal blue and used my “hair” tip, as I like to call it, to make fur.  I think the tip I use is a Wilton #233.  Before the icing crusts, I added the Oreo mouth and some candy eyeballs. I now make my own candy eyes (that will be a later post), but these pre-made ones from the store work great.

After the cupcakes, I geared up for the cake.  I am sure if you have talked to anyone who has made a cake with red icing, there has been a complaint in there about getting a good red.  Well, I am no different and I really messed up this first batch of red. I was mixing the red and wanted a little bit deeper color.  I read online about adding a touch of black.  Being a person who like very specific instructions (think scientist here) I don’t know what a touch meant. If I had been smart, it would have been to add the most minuet amount of black possible and see what happens.  I did no such thing and dipped my toothpick in my black icing and added it to the icing.  Wellllllll, lets just say that I got some version of red but it was not suitable for an Elmo cake.  Bummed that I had wasted a half batch of buttercream and a half bottle of red coloring, I started over.  Sticking to what I knew, I just added red icing and let it sit for a bit to let the color to develop.  What do you know, if I would have just had the patience the first time, the color would have developed just fine.  Patient is not a word that is used to describe me.

I used the same “hair” tip to make the fur on Elmo.  I did all the sides first to make sure I had enough icing.  If I was going to have to mix more, I would want all the same surface to be the same batch in case the color did not match.  Thankfully, I had made enough. Before, I added the fur on top, I added the Elmo face features.  This way, I could put the fur right up to the features. I was much happier with the proportions of the Elmo face this time around.

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Elmo Cake

The icing for the features could have been a little smoother, but overall I was happy.  More importantly, there were some two-years-olds that loved their cake.

Clara

Sharks and Tractors

So last weekend was a double cake weekend.  I wouldn’t usually do that to myself, but two of my best friends were having their kids birthdays on the same day.  Thankfully, one was during the lunch hours and one was during the dinner hours.  So not only was I able to make cakes for both, but we got to spend the whole time at each party without rushing.

So I will start with the shark party.  The shark party was a four-year-old pool party.  The party was inside at the clubhouse of the neighborhood pool with swimming to follow.  This was nice because I didn’t have to worry about the cake melting outside.  My BF Kelly wanted a small shark cake for her son to blow candles out on, and the rest of the cake in cupcake form.  This worked well since there were a bunch of kids ready to eat and be on their way to the swimming pool.  I made the cakes ahead of time like usual and froze them.

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Cooling Cakes – (Sim)fully Sweet

I was also able to make ahead the chocolate fins and shark that were going to adorn the shark cake and cupcakes. I printed out a template for the fins so they were all the same size.  I drew out a shark template that I thought would work for the smaller cake.

I didn’t put the  shark fins and shark on the cake until we arrived at the party.  I was too worried about breakage.  Also, the shark was quite heavy in the end and I didn’t want it tearing apart the cake. I ended up icing the cupcakes the night before and the cake the morning of the party.  I used different shades of blue and a large star tip to get a wave/water effect.  Kelly liked it and Liam enjoyed taking a big bite out of the shark!

 

Next up was the Johnny Tractor party.  My BF Kristen wanted something in the Johnny tractor theme for her little guys 2nd birthday.  She also only wanted cake and no cupcakes. So naturally, I went with a tractor.  I was going to build my own tractor until I found out that the party was going to be outside at a splash pad.  It wasn’t terribly hot and the cake had shade from the pavillion but it was in the 80’s and that still worried me.  I wanted to make sure I had a really stable cake.  I found a tractor cake form on Amazon for really cheap.  I used that to make two cakes that I could level and stack as I needed cake for about 45 people. I used my normal buttercream recipe however I substituted part of the butter for shortening to make the icing more heat resistant.  I don’t like doing it as I like the all butter buttercream better, but no one seemed to mind.  I looked at a picture of a John Deere Tractor on my ipad and got to work decorating.  I used a smaller star tip for most of the cake and a couple round tips for some of the details. The cake ended up turning out really nice and it was solid. Since I had to be at the earlier mentioned shark party, I packed the cake up and took it to Kristen’s house.  She made sure to keep it in the fridge so that it was nice and cold before sitting outside.  It held up really well and I am pretty sure it was all eaten!

Thats all for now.  I had a bunch of cakes right in a row, but now things are slowing.  Until next time.

~Clara