Saturday, March 23, 2013

Birthday Cakes

We have a lot of birthdays in January and February in my family. It kind of wreaks havoc on your after Christmas dieting plans to have a couple of months full of birthday cakes right after turkey dinners, festive Christmas goodies, and New Year's appetizers.

However, I have found some good frosting and fondant recipes as a result! Let me share them with you.

Above: One of Peter's 4th birthday cakes. Transformers on the moon (front view).

Above: One of Peter's 4th birthday cakes. Transformers on the moon (this is the back view).

Smooth Buttercream Frosting


1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons milk


Beat shortening and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until smooth, about 3 minutes; stir in vanilla extract. Beat sugar, one cup at a time, into butter mixture on medium speed. Add milk and beat on high speed until light and fluffy.

Keep icing covered with a damp cloth until ready to decorate. For best results, keep icing refrigerated when not in use.

Source:, submitted by morabam2011. Found here.

Above: Peter's other 4th birthday cake. A hamburger cake. The cheese, tomatoes, and pickles were made out of fondant (I found an awesome fondant recipe, which I will share in this post. It was much better than the fondant recipe I used the year before for Peter's 3rd birthday cakes. The lettuce, and the ketchup (spread on top of the chocolate cake layer are both the Smooth Buttercream Frosting recipe).

Above: I should have made a side of fries with ketchup to go with this (slices of pound cake, like Sara Lee's, with a dollop of red frosting. Oh well...some other time).

Marshmallow Fondant


1/4 cup butter
1 (16 ounce) package miniature marshmallows
4 tablespoons water (1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 pounds confectioners' sugar, divided


Place the butter in a shallow bowl, and set aside.

Place the marshmallows in a large microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on High for 30 seconds to 1 minute to start melting the marshmallows. Carefully stir the water and vanilla extract into the hot marshmallows, and stir until the mixture is smooth. Slowly beat in the confectioners' sugar, a cup at a time, until you have a sticky dough. Reserve 1 cup of powdered sugar for kneading. The dough will be very stiff.

Rub your hands thoroughly with butter, and begin kneading the sticky dough. As you knead, the dough will become workable and pliable. Turn the dough out onto a working surface dusted with confectioners' sugar and continue kneading until the fondant is smooth and no longer sticky to the touch, 5 to 10 minutes.

Form the fondant into a ball, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. To use, allow the fondant to come to room temperature, and roll it out onto a flat surface dusted with confectioners' sugar.

Source: submitted by Kiele Briscoe. Found here.

Notes: I was only able to beat in a very small amount of the powdered just wasn't working with my handheld mixer. So, I ended up beating in what I could, and then I needed in the rest. I didn't use quite 2 lbs of the confectioners' sugar...but close.

Above: One of Jonathan's 2nd birthday cakes. I got this little train with the tracks in one of the boys' fast food kids' meals. They got two of them, and Peter didn't really love this toy, so I hid this away because I thought it was cute, and because I thought it would work as a cake topper.

Above: I added a "2" since it was his second birthday...besides, the more candy letters and numbers, the merrier.

Above: Yummy!

Buttercream Frosting

Note: This recipe makes 2 1/2 cups frosting. It is enough for a good dollop of frosting on each cupcake. However, if you want to blanket the cupcake with frosting, prepare 1 1/2-2 recipes.


8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
3-4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until fluffy, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and add the confectioners' sugar, 3 tablespoons of the milk, and the vanilla. Blend with the mixer on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 1 minute more. Add up to 1 tablespoon more milk if the frosting seems too stiff.

Use this frosting to frost the cupcakes of your choice.

For different flavors of buttercream...

Add 1 teaspoon pure almond extract instead of the vanilla, or...
1-2 teaspoons coconut flavoring instead of vanilla.

For lower fat, use 4 tablespoons butter and increase the milk by 1-2 tablespoons.

Source: Cupcake Doctor cookbook.

Above: This one didn't turn out as cute as the one I found on Pinterest (my excavator was too big for things to look proportionate). Oh well. It was delicious!

Above: I like to incorporate one of my boys' birthday presents with their cake topper. It makes the cake look cute, it is less work decorating-wise for me, and it is a fun surprise, and something to look forward to for my boys.

Fluffy Chocolate Frosting


8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted, plus additional, if needed
1/3 cup whole milk, plus additional, if needed
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt


Place the butter and cocoa powder in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until the mixture is soft and well combined, 30 seconds. Stop the machine. Place the confectioners' sugar, 1/3 cup milk, vanilla, and salt in the bowl, and beat with the mixer on low speed until the frosting lightens and is fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add more milk if the frosting is too thick or confectioners' sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, if the frosting is too thing.

Use the frosting to frost the cake or cupcakes of your choice.

Source: The Cake Mix Doctor cookbook, ISBN-10: 0-7611-1719-9

Above: Here is a cake my sister made for her son for his 2nd birthday this year. So cute! I like hers way better than mine!

Above: Here is a cute cake that my sister-in-law made for my niece (using the fondant recipe shared in this post).

Above: This is what the cake originally looked like, and then my niece decided she wanted polka dots on the dress.

Above: This is one of the cakes I made for Peter's 3rd birthday. It was huge! It contained a whole yellow cake, and a whole chocolate cake (the chocolate cake also made part of the volcano).

Above: I got these cool dinosaurs from my local Dollar Tree dollar store.

Above: I used melted seedless raspberry jam for the lava. This was the very first time I made fondant. I was not very skilled at it (plus, the recipe I used wasn't that great...too sticky...and it took forever for me to get it to a less sticky state that I could work with). So, I used a grass tip to cover all of the lumps and inconsistencies with grass frosting. :) (I won't include this marshmallow fondant recipe since the one I am including is much better. I used the buttercream frosting recipe found above).

Above: The other cake I made for Peter's 3rd birthday. The Spider-man was another kids' meal toy that I saved just for this purpose. My second round with fondant was more successful due to more practice. (Again, I won't share this fondant recipe. I used the buttercream recipe used above.)

Above: For Peter's 2nd birthday, I went with a pirate theme. I made two pirate treasure chest cakes (to celebrate with both sides of the family). This is the one we shared with my in-laws. It was a strawberry cake with white buttercream frosting (from a mix and a can) which was sprinkled with crushed vanilla wafers (to look like sand). I got the supplies (the chest, coins, and beads) from Zurchers.

Above: This is the other pirate treasure chest cake I made. You can find all of the instructions for that here.

Above: I made these cute bears at the beach cupcakes for Peter's 1st birthday. I made a delicious marshmallow frosting to go on top of them.

Above: I made this teddy bear's beach picnic to celebrate Peter's 1st birthday with my in-laws.

Marshmallow Creme Frosting


1/4 cup (1/2 stick) margarine or butter, softened
1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow creme
1 tsp vanilla
1 pkg (16 oz) powdered sugar
1 to 2 tbsp milk, divided


Place margarine, marshmallow creme and vanilla in a small bowl; beat on medium speed until well blended. Gradually add sugar, beating after each addition until well blended.

Blend in 1 tbsp. of the milk. Add remaining 1 tbsp milk, if necessary, for desired spreading consistency.

Makes enough to fill and frost a 2 layer cake.

Source: I found this on You can find it here.

Above: Poor Johnny. His 1st birthday cake was a bust. I had planned to make two. The first one was actually going to be the train cake that I made for his second birthday. However, when I was frosting it, it crumbled to pieces! Damage beyond repair. I ended up having to buy him a cake from a bakery at the last minute since I didn't have the time or supplies to make another one. It was a delicious white cake with whipped cream frosting and strawberry filling from Schmidt's Pastry Cottage. My hero. :)

Above: Boo hoo! Again, another bust for Jonathan's first birthday. Above is Jonathan's other cake for his 1st birthday. We celebrated with my family, and my sister was in town, so we celebrated her son's birthday at the same time. We decided to make individual cakes baked in 28 oz size cans (that once held whole peeled tomatoes). However, they took FOREVER to make. We did them as blue ombre cakes, so we made four different shades of blue (and thus, four different 28 oz cans). This took quite a few cakes (2, if not 3, if I recall), and a ton of food coloring. They were deep, so they took over an hour to bake. We made them at my Mom's house, and they took so long that I wasn't able to stay to frost/decorate them. So, I don't know how easy that portion of the task was. However, I can't imagine it was that painless to do. They were frosted white and topped with blue sprinkles. They weren't easy to slice to serve (they made for awkward looking portion sizes). Besides that, no way did two little 1 year old boys need that much cake (they each got their own--probably the equivalent of one regular sized cake--so half a cake for each of them). This was a concept that seemed a lot cuter and more fun before you actually got into it. It was overrated. A lot of time, work, and extra supplies. Even a giant cupcake would have been more practical to give each of them! It was a hectic night, so I didn't really get a picture of the cakes either. This is blown up from a picture just before they blew out the candles. The cakes were itty bitty in the picture, thus the grainy picture quality.

1 comment:

  1. Somewhere in boxes I have pictures of the cakes I made for you guys. None of them looked as cute as the ones that you girls do, though.

    Good job!