Fake it till you make it Cakes

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.

friend's 40th birthday cake

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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:

 

angel cake

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!

La La Loopsy Cake

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 cake

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.

 

puffle cake

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!

 

bomb bird cake

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.

 

Care Bear Cupcakes

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.

 

Pirate Cake

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).

 

turning one cake

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!

Train cake

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!

 

Three Musketeers cupcakes

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.

 

Jungle Cake

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….

 

princess cake

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.

 

ninjago cake

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?

My son is turning nine, and the Birds couldn’t be Angrier!

March 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

Those who know me well know that I really enjoy planning my children’s birthday parties.  It started when my eldest two turned three (Princess party and Spiderman party respectively) and has continued through the years with Barbie’s Three Musketeers, Super Mario, Care Bears, Pokemon, Puffles, Pirate party and most recently, an Angry Birds theme.

Now Angry Birds hasn’t been around as long as some of those other characters, so I had to get resourceful with most of the planning.  I didn’t mind – that’s my typical MO anyway as it is so much more fun (and a nice challenge for this stay-at-home-mom).

DECORATIONS

I always begin my party planning with a quick perusal of the merchandise (and available coupons) at www.birthdayexpress.com.  With a little luck you can find table decorations for almost any character or theme. In this case, they did have an Angry Birds package, but unfortunately the only licensed Angry Birds items were the plates, cups and napkins (the usual balloons, table cloth, mylar and centrepiece were in the right colours but were nothing more than what I could get at Dollarama for much cheaper).  So I ordered the basic package, supplemented with a few items from Party Packagers, and went to work creating my own Angry Birds flavour for the party.

Googling Angry Birds Birthday party themes brought me to www.ThePartyAnimal-blog.org at which I discovered (in my opinion) the best feature of the party! They had created an Angry Birds template of faces to cut out and tape onto appropriately coloured balloons to make the characters from Angry Birds! They looked amazing. I also used them on the loot bags – see below.

GAMES

Even though my son was turning nine and thus a little old for the stereotypical “pin the tail on the donkey” game, it is now tradition in our home that we have that game in the theme of the party (pin the sword on the musketeer, pin the hat on Mario, pin the patch on the pirate and so on….). Envisioning the green bristol board I had seen previously at Dollarama, I opted for pin the nose on the King Pig!

Scavenger hunts are always fun and a necessity for a young boys party (if you want to save your hearing and sanity) as it gets them all running around outside. Given the Easter season, there were loads of “egg” options available, so I picked up six fist sized golden eggs and labeled them with each of the boys names. They were hidden in various places outside for the boys to find (had to find their own egg, and keep it a secret if they found someone else’s!). Once found, they were placed into their loot bags to take home later.

Next up was Angry Birds Bingo! This one took a little more effort as I needed to make them myself (I have attached them below to save other Mom’s the time it took to put them together – pay it forward!).  I scoured the internet looking for enough pictures to fill a bingo card (thank goodness for Angry Birds Seasons edition!) I printed them out, laminated them and (back to Dollarama) used circle stickers for the kids to mark them.

Finally, in true Angry Birds fashion, we set up an Angry Birds structure in the garage using empty boxes, styrofoam and a broken old wooden CD rack. I placed green balls (thank you, Dollarama!) throughout the structure to represent the pigs, and used small plastic red and yellow balls from one of our “ball pit” type toys. Inspired by some of the ideas I found online for this initiative, I selected the fitness band from my Wii Fit game (comes with handles – perfect!… truthfully, it  wasn’t getting much use anyway).  The kids each took turns slingshotting the red and yellow balls into the structure in an attempt to hit the pigs (again, awesome energy burner for a young boys party).

CAKE

My husband had purchased a Wag Jag for cupcakes at a local cupcakery so I inquired as to whether they could do Angry Birds – they said yes, but only two characters.  I chose the trademark red bird, and my son’s favourite: Bomb Bird!

On the actual day of my son’s birthday (not the same day as the party) I tackled an Angry Birds themed treat myself and created a Bomb Bird Birthday Brownie! Brownie mix baked in a circular cake pan, coloured icing, a few smarties and voila!

LOOT BAGS

I used the templates from www.ThePartyAnimal-blog.org on the loot bags as well as the balloons to create these beauts:

Inside each bag, I included the golden egg from the Scavenger hunt plus a few of those small foil wrapped golden eggs (which I picked up at, you guessed it, Dollarama!), as well as a toy. Each friend also took home one of the helium-filled character balloons pictured above.

The final loot bag item was my own creation. I courageously went to Bulk Barn (I say courageously as this is a very dangerous place for me –  it turns my discipline for avoiding junk food into a shrivelling mess), and purchased M&Ms in yellow, red, blue, green and brown, as well as a handful of white and yellow mini eggs. I placed a few of each in small Ziploc bags and labelled them accordingly:

All in all, a great day! Thanks to all the inspiration and resources I found online (referenced throughout). I have attached the AB bingo cards as well. Enjoy!

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