June 26, 2013 § 1 Comment
I recently had the distinct pleasure of assisting a truly beautiful friend ring in her 40th birthday, girls night style. One of the gals brought a cake for the occasion that so perfectly matched the loveliness of our friend, that it was almost a shame to slice it up and eat it.
It got me thinking about cakes, and some of the truly remarkable works of art being churned out in the cake decorating world. Facebook and Pinterest are splattered with snapshots of these masterpieces; a new generation of edible art!
As we all so often do in these circumstances, I eventually got around to shifting the microscope onto my own cake creations. The pressure is large, with four young children, to fashion a delicious yet festive cake or cupcake display that perfectly matches the theme chosen by the birthday kid for their party. Ever tried to make a Puffle cake? How about Pokemon or La La Loopsy? Yes, I realize, the pressure is my own, but the precedent was set with child #1 so how do I deny the rest?
So I’ve traded in any fondant wizarding dreams for a healthy dose of creativity and resourcefulness. For all you fellow fondant –averse folks wondering how to light up your child’s face without committing to a cake decorating course, here’s how it is done in my house:
- Consult google. Type in your child’s birthday party theme, plus “cake”, then click on “images” from the google menu at the top of the screen. You’ll see a lot of fondant-laden cakes, but you’ll also see a collection of amazing homemade masterpieces from parents with decorating capacities similar to our own.
- Apply your own customized ideas to the inspiration found in your google search, and voila, a cake creation your kid will love.
Here are some examples from my own gallery:
This was actually a First Communion cake for my daughter. If you look closely, you can see that I made one 13×9 cake and two circle cakes. I cut a quarter out of each of the circle cakes to fit them on the top of the rectangle as wings, then added the quarters to the bottom of the rectangle to flare out her dress. A little creative texturing with the icing goes a long way!
Some may think this is Raggedy Ann, but in the younger generation, these dolls are La La Loopsy. Making a La La Loopsy cake was easier than I thought it would be once I got started. Two circle cakes. One full, the other cut up into slices to make hair. Buttons for the eyes, and the rest is icing.
Pokemon has gone in and out with our family so often I have lost count. This the second Pokemon birthday for my eldest son, with a few years hiatus in between. His last Pokemon cake was a dome cake decorated as a red and white Poke ball (not by me), so this one involved more of a character approach.
This is a Puffle cake. My daughter has long loved these little bean bag creatures with furry hair from the Club Penguin Disney franchise. They come in all different colours, but if you’ve ever worked with food colouring (see failed Ninjago example below), I was grateful that there is a brown puffle in the collection!
This was for my eldest son’s Angry Bird’s birthday. His favourite bird was Bomb Bird and like his mother, loves brownies, so I created a Bomb Bird Brownie. Even though Bomb Bird is black, the chocolate icing did the trick.
My daughter prefers cupcakes at her parties, so for her Care Bear themed birthday party, I ordered a bag of these great little Care Bear figurines from SmileMakers and topped the cupcakes with those. I included the remaining figurines in the loot bags.
The parents that picked up their kids from this birthday party were not pleased with the sugar content, but it was a perfect fit for my son’s 4th birthday party: pirate theme. Make a cake, cut it in half, and fashion the two pieces into an opening treasure chest full of overflowing candy (toothpicks required on the hinging side).
For my youngest daughter’s 1st birthday we had a crowd, so I made a ton of cupcakes and fashioned them into the shape of a “1”. Both chocolate and vanilla, of course!
This was a train cake for my youngest son’s 3rd birthday. It’s way easier than it looks. I made the cake in loaf pans, and then sliced the loaf into train-car-sized pieces. For the engine I sliced it length-ways to make a longer piece. Use the leftover pieces to add enhancements (for example a bridge, as seen in the picture). Decorate with candy and you’re done!
For her 5th birthday, my eldest daughter wanted a Barbie and the Three Musketeers party. I found plastic rings that matched this theme and pushed them into a collection of cupcakes. The girls thought it was just a decoration until they pulled it off their cupcake and were delighted to have their very own Three Musketeers character ring.
This one was actually constructed by my sister-in-law, whose creativity and resourcefulness far surpasses my own. I gave her the freshly baked cake and the materials (plastic trees,rocks and animals, and sprinkles) and just look at how she transformed them!
And here are a couple that turned out to be better lessons than cakes….
This one was a learning experience for me. The idea was to bake the cake in a large glass measuring cup (8 cups), then turn it upside-down, shove a Barbie into it and ice it: a princess cake. Unfortunately, when I inserted the Barbie, the cake only came up to her thighs, failing to cover her bottom half like a skirt the way it showed on google (lesson: need more than one box of cake mix). So I improvised, seeing as it was only my daughters 2nd birthday, and placed a small plastic doll in the cake instead. I fashioned a princess hat out of card stock and iced the cake portion. Not my best work, but she loved it.
Yet another lesson in cake decorating. The more food colouring you add, the runnier the icing gets. To get “Ninjago red”, it took a lot of colouring. There is a better way: buy pre-made red icing 😉 Eyes were a card stock cutout. The cake was made using the same measuring cup approach as the princess cake above, with added cake pieces to shape the head into a Ninjago cake. Maybe less measuring cup cakes in my future?