Aloha Friday: Best Birthday Cakes

It’s time for another Aloha Friday, the day that you take it easy and look forward to the weekend, in Hawaii and blog land anyway. As you should know by now, over at An Island Life, Kailani decided that on Fridays she would take it easy on posting and ask a simple question for you to answer. Nothing that requires a lengthy response.

If you’d like to participate, just post your own question on your blog and leave your link at An Island Life’s blog. Don’t forget to visit the other participants! It’s a great way to make new bloggy friends!

Last weekend was part one of MM’s 3rd birthday celebration. We had all his friends (and ours) over for cake, ice cream, a couple presents and your basic good time – basically it was game night with cake and ice cream – actually that’s exactly what it was. Anyhow, the birthday cake. I’ve had the pleasure of making a handful of birthday cakes for the little man and a couple for my husband – I can bake a cake and it always tastes good – but the decorating, oh the decorating. Inevitably it always has that, “Look ma, I made it myself!” look written all over it. My cake handwriting skills are pathetic at best (really need to work on spacing) and sometimes you go for an idea and it sounds easy but it comes out nothing like how you envisioned it. I’m no pro, basically, and it shows.

But I had high hopes for this year’s cake. The theme was Madagascar and I had the genius idea to go to Target, The Dollar Store, something and pick up some of those tiny little jungle animals – you know the ones the size of GI Joes that are sold in little 20 packs for like a dollar or two? Cheap and easy – and then I don’t have to try drawing jungle animals, which would end badly – and they could be kept as toys for MM afterwards. I decided I’d simply arrange a lion, zebra, giraffe and hippo (assuming I could find all four) on a cake that I’d frost green. I also really wanted to maybe have some separate blue frosting to make a body of water. It sounded easy until the day of the party when I found I had only red food dye. Seriously. Also – I’d have to use plain white frosting to get the colored effect and I’m such a frosting snob. I went back in forth in my head and the pantry after discovering this dilemma – chocolate cake with white frosting? White cake with chocolate frosting? White on white? Chocolate on chocolate?

Along this time I also started to remember my frosting dilemmas. It seems like no matter my best efforts whenever I frost a chocolate cake with white frosting the cake crumbs mix with the frosting giving it an ugly sort of Oreo effect. Which is cool if you’re going for that, but annoying if you aren’t. And okay – I’m just going to say it – in my humble opinion non-chocolate cakes are basically fake cakes. And since the party the following week (now tomorrow) with my family would NEED a yellow cake as both his grandmothers are ironically allergic to chocolate – I didn’t want to gip the poor boy out of chocolate cake altogether. And then it hits me – chocolate frosting looks like… mud. And it’s the same exact color as the cake. So what if crumbs mix in? Who would be able to tell? I put the theory to the test and it’s true – no matter how many times the cake broke apart a bit as I frosted, when I was done nobody would be able to tell.

But what about my Madagascar theme? I dug around my cupboards some more looking for colored sprinkles – hoping I’d find some green – and I did – green colored sugar sprinkles – and not just that, dudes, I found blue, too. Destiny aligned and I had everything I needed to make the cake you see here:

I know… tea lights… while destiny was aligning, it neglected to bring birthday candles.

We made due and I actually kind of like the end result…

And it tasted delicious. And I came to the conclusion that for the slightly decoration impaired cake diva that would be me – chocolate cake and chocolate frosting are a winning combination that I will never doubt again – It’s like wearing black to slim your figure – it hides a couple imperfections but perfectly showcases the overall deliciousness that is chocolate cake. And second revelation is that colored sugar is my new favorite thing ever. I intend to implement this genius idea into every cake and cookie I can as long as we both shall live. Perfection.

So, my Aloha Friday question for today is (you thought I forgot, didn’t you?):

What is your birthday cake secret weapon?

What little tricks of the trade never fail you?

What is your absolute favorite kind of birthday cake?

15 Comments

  1. My birthday cake secret weapon….I buy it! 🙂 Thanks for sharing. Swing by my site, The IE Mommy, to view my question and if you already have….Thanks 🙂

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  2. Great job with your cake!

    I love my giant cupcake pan for birthday cakes. I have even made it into a volcano for a dinosaur cake. I typically use the moist deluxe cake mixes because they seems to work the best with everything. I also bought decorating tools to avoid buying the little tubes of colors.

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  3. Our favorite is yellow cake with chocolate icing and sprinkles. We all request it for our birthdays and Dad bakes them. He’s a much better baker than I am. I think your cake turned out fabulous.

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  4. @ Jean : I’ve had the same experience every time I’ve tried to level the cake and / or brush of crumbs, I usually make it worse. But the freezing? That might be the way to go!

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  5. I have a tip for letter spacing when making a birthday cake. I actuallya landscape blueprinting class in college, and my teacher was a perfectionist. He even measured the spaces between the letters in our headings! The key to making your letters evenly spaced is to start in the middle. So for example, for the word Birthday, I’d start with the space between the t and the h. THat would be in the center of the cake, and I’d fill in each side accordingly. It’s not failproof, but it certainly helps a lot! I also trace the words in the frosting with a toothpick, very lightly, so I can smudge them out if I screw up!

    Good luck! 🙂

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  6. Cool cake! I don’t have any tricks of the trade…I haven’t had to make a bday cake yet. Although I know mine won’ t be as fancy as yours!

    I love chocolate cake with cheesecake frosting!

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  7. Ok, this easily could have been a post I’ve written. I have the exact same issues and frets when I do a cake.
    Sue looks like she knows what she’s talking about… I have tried to cut a small layer on top to even it out and dusted the crumbs. Sadly cutting the layer made it more crumbly, so I had a white icing cake with red speckles. -This was just a random Red Devils cake I made. It was delish at least. I may have to try the freezing thing.
    I think buying the critters to put on the cake was the way to go. I plan to the same for the Star Wars cake in a couple of weeks.

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  8. You did a great job! I bet MM thought he was in heaven, yes?

    My sister swears that freezing helps the best. And always spread the icing in the same direction. Taking off the top part of the cake (just a thin layer to make the cake level) & then brush off the crumbs before you ice it.

    I’m making my daughter a princess castle later this month that I’ll post pix of in my food blog since I haven’t posted much of anything there! lol

    My favorite cake is a Dairy Queen ice cream cake maybe in part because I decorate cakes!

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  9. My secret weapon…Walmart!

    My fave cake was an ice cream cake from Brewsters from my 34th bday…Chocolate Raspberry Truffle ice cream…enough said…LOL!

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