I’m not much of a baker. A few months after my son was born, I made my husband a birthday cake – using a boxed mix. Only it came out flat and dense. I forgot to add the water - oops!
Three added ingredients: eggs, water and oil. Even without the sleep deprivation, I still often forget one of them.
Which is why my friends and family are amazed when my birthday cakes actually DO turn out and look good. My trick? Use easy decorating ideas. Here are two that worked for me:
Zack’s 4th birthday party had a Cars theme. Original, huh? I made this car cake with two Pyrex dishes – one was 9x9 and the other 9x11 or so. After baking the cakes (and adding water to the mix!), I let them cool and mixed up some blue food dye in the store-bought frosting.
I frosted the top of the larger cake, then set the smaller one on top. Then I cut an angled piece of cake off the top for the windshield. Frosting that wasn’t easy, without getting crumbs in (I suppose if I thought of it ahead of time I could have frozen the cake and then frosted it).
I frosted the windshield white, and the rest blue. Then I piped on Wilton’s ready to use black frosting (which comes with 4 tips and is incredibly easy to use - $5 at Safeway) for the details, adding marshmallows for the wheels. Voila! A cake my son loved. Professional looking? No. But I also only spent a few hours on it, versus staying up all night trying to make the perfect creation.
For his fifth birthday, we again had a car theme, but this one was Hot Wheels. It was even easier, since I made cupcakes (actually Zack and my husband made the cupcakes and I decorated). I took a big board (left over from our cabinet refinishing project) and covered it with tin foil. I added painters’ tape lines for the road, and taped on some plastic trees from Zack’s dinosaur set, and stop signs from his Thomas the Train set.
After frosting the cupcakes in white, I added black road stripes to half the cupcakes (remember that Wilton frosting? I reused it). For the other cupcakes, I bought small cars at Target ($3 for 6, in the party goods section – they’re a goody bag stuffer there). To avoid getting frosting on the wheels, I cup up labels, and stuck the cars to the sticky side, putting the flat side on the cupcake. The labels soaked up the frosting oil, but the cars were perfectly clean when the kids removed them to take home.
And the board was a fun toy for a few days after the party.