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Friday, April 15, 2011

Ghosts of Birthday Cake Past

Since this is a blog about sharing all kinds of ideas about raising a family, I thought I'd share a tradition that our family is having fun with when it comes to birthdays in the family.

Growing up, my mom made a big deal about the birthday cake. It was always homemade, and she would have us dream up any theme under the sun. Then she's get creative, and we were always excited to see what she had created. Something about her doing that for us kids must have made a deep impact on me, because I HAVE to do it for my kids. I HAVE to. Now I don't have my mother's gift with decorating tools, but I can be resourceful when I need to be.

Here are some cakes from our past birthdays:

I think I'll start with my least favorite. See, I'm not a big fan of Barbies. Wait, let me clarify. I love watching "Barbie's Princess and the Pauper" and "Barbie Isalnd Princess" with my girls - the songs are catchy. But I would rather run 15 miles than play 15 minutes of Barbies. My least favorite mom chore by far. But, what do you do when a three year old asks for a Barbie cake? You try to manipulate their interests for two weeks, then you cave in, and make this:

Now on to my second least favorite. Is that proper english? My son Gavin is in love with all things transportation: planes, cars, bikes, and of course trains. I experimented with this car cake mold, which I'm not a huge fan of because to use these molding pans, you really need to make a thick dry cake, so you can see the shape better. I (as you will learn) am a big food fan, and would much rather something TASTE good than look good. Therefore, these didn't turn out as cute as someone else might have been able to make them. Fortunately, nobody cared :)
Life Saver wheels, lollipop drivers with frosting faces...not too much to brag about here, except to say that I had fun!

Now - did I already mention that I prefer food to taste good, rather than look good? So I'm fascinated by those "mad-hatter" looking cakes I see people making on tv. They are so fun and whimsical looking. Problem is, more thick, dry cake recipies, and WORST OF ALL the fondant. Fondant is beautiful. Fondant is easy to work with. Fondant tastes gross. So I decided to see if it is possible to make a delicious but still whimsical looking cake.
I'm thinking's not. But I have something mastered that those cake chef's don't. The tilted structure of thier cakes is an illusion - mine is NOT. It's the realy deal. In fact, it nearly completely slid off the plate before I served it. So there.

Now comes a cake that looks harder than it really is. Nothing hard about it as a matter of fact. This was the year my daughter requested a "Wedding Cake." Here's what it turned out like:

Now this next one, I actually am I little excited about. It took me an embarassing amount of time, but I loved every minute of it. Here is Gavin's first birthday cake, a Pirate Ship.

Next is a "garden" birthday cake. Frosting ants, and goldfish crackers hiding under a melted Jolly Ranchers pond. The frog, by the way, is a plastic toy - but I would have been really impressed with myself if I'd created that out of something edible.

Do the cakes take up a lot of time? Yes. Are they really very impressive? Nope - I've seen way better. But they sure mean something to me. And, who knows, maybe someday my kids will try to make birthdays fun for their kids with a little imagination of their own.


  1. Lori,
    You are extremely creative. You come up with wonderful, fun ideas to do with your children. Your "snow men" are incredible. The projects you do with your children are inspiring. The Wyoming room of your home is amazing. Your cakes are very enticing for a child. You don't give yourself enough credit for your creative genious.
    - Aunt Darla

  2. I love your cakes! How fun! And your kids will have such great memories of their birthdays and how hard you worked for them. My favorite is the mad hatter cake- cute! :)

  3. Your cakes are so creative and fun. I'm sure your kids love them. You should try using a Marshmallow fondant. I've never used it but my friend uses it all the time and her cakes turn out awesome. I'm going to try it on Sophie's cake for her birthday coming up. Here's the recipe. Let me know if you try it out:

    Marshmallow Fondant:

    10oz Mini Marshmallows
    2 tbls Water
    4 cups Powdered Sugar
    1 tsp Vanilla

    Melt marshmallows and water in Microwave. Mix in sugar little by little until fully incorporated add vanilla and mix. Roll
    out mixture onto board/counter with more sugar if needed and use.

    I hope all is well with you and your family!
    -Jessica Blasucci

  4. Thanks for all the nive comments, ladies. Aunt Darla, you always give me too much credit! Liz, thanks for liking a cake that can't stay on its own plate :) Jessica, I can't wait to try this! Brianne's birthday is right around the corner and I'm thinking it will have something to do with marshmallow fondant! Keep the ideas rolling in ladies - I have lots and LOTS to learn!