It feels gratifying to know you've made a personalized cake for your child.
For the first few years of your child's life, you bought store-bought cakes. It's too nerve-wracking to make your own. Too much pressure. So you thought. The last thing you want is to try and pass off a lump of half-raw cake batter to an over-excited crowd of kids. But, this year you're going to do it. A homemade cake shows how much you care, right? Well, you can do it. Especially, if you use a cake mix. It might feel like cheating, but your 4-year-old can help with the process -- and that's a big part of the fun.
1Count how many people are coming. Ironically, making a cake starts with the guest list. You need to know how many cake eaters are coming to the party so you don't end up with too much or too little cake. The number of recommended servings will be on your cake mix. Buy as many boxes of cake mix as you need to feed the hungry masses.
2Choose a cake shape. Stick with something you know. For example, if you've only done square or round cakes, you'll want to continue with this base. There are limitless variations you can make with square or round cakes. If you are feeling creative, you can try constructing a cake or use a shaped pan to make your cake. You can also make a heart-shaped cake or a bunny cake. For shaped cake pans, use a pound cake mix. This makes a denser cake that holds its form better.
3Pick a flavor. Kids are easy. Take the birthday kid with you and have him help. He will probably be satisfied with a simple white, chocolate or vanilla cake. If you are making a pound cake, you really only get the one basic flavor choice, but it will be jazzed up with a fancy top. Alternatively, you can add a few drops of lemon, raspberry or vanilla flavoring to the cake while mixing the batter. You can also add food coloring to a white cake to make it the desired color. Or, if you are layering cakes you can give each layer a different color for a rainbow effect.
4Preheat the oven to the temperature recommended on the box. Usually around 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
5Pull out the mixing bowl and open the dry cake mix. Enlist your child to pour the cake mix into the bowl. Help him keep his hands steady, if necessary, or you might end up with cake mix all over the counter.
6Measure the wet ingredients into the bowl. This varies depending on the mix, but usually includes eggs, oil and water. Your child will have a lot of fun measuring the ingredients. Help her measure and pour. Kids love to crack eggs but crack them into a separate bowl first. That way you can scoop out any stray shells with a fork.
7Stir, stir, stir the batter with your little helper. She can start and you can finish up to make sure the batter is smooth. Kids usually get tired of stirring but don't want to miss out on it either. You may need to break up the egg yolks and help her get started. A spatula will help pull the batter off the sides, so you can mix it easier.
8Spray your cake pans with cooking spray so the cake won't stick. Your child can help with this part too, but you might prefer to do it outside so you don't get cooking spray all over your counters and floor. Make sure the spray gets into the corners and sides of the pan. You can use any cake pans you want. Just remember that darker pans cook faster and you'll need enough pans for the cake mix. Most cake mixes will make a cake based on two 8- or 9-inch round pans or one rectangular cake pan.
9Bake your cake for the time recommended on the box. Check the cake regularly to make sure it's not browning. It's done when you stick a toothpick in the center and it comes out without "clean." That means there is no cake batter sticking to it.
10Pull the cake out of the oven when it's done and let it cool. If you baked it in the morning, you can let it cool all day and ice it in the evening. If you cooked it later in the day, you'll want to cool it overnight and ice it in the morning, before the party.
11Ice the cake using prepared icing. Or, you can easily make icing by beating butter, a few drops of vanilla, two spoonfuls of milk and icing sugar together until it makes a firm, but pliable, frosting. Color the icing as you make it by adding a couple drops of food coloring. Icing is also easy to find in stores. Spread it on the cake with a flat, stiff spatula.
12Dollop the icing in the center of the cake and spread it around. If you are making a layered cake, you'll need to lay each layer on a cake stand, cut the top off so it's flat and spread icing between layers. The icing acts as glue to keep the layers together. You can also put icing directly on the cake to glue the cake down. Spread the icing on top of the cake down the sides, turning the cake plate as you go until the frosting is smooth and completely covers the cake.
13Finish the cake by adding embellishments. You can buy icing decorations at the store, including piping gel and frosting tubes. Cut the tips off the frosting and gel tubes before you use them. Use the tubes to create flowers or a border around the edge of the cake. The gel is used for writing a message on the cake. You can put anything on the cake to personalize it for your child. Your decorations just need to be clean and have a wide enough base to sit on the cake. For example, you can put a prancing pony on top of the cake. Just wash it first and set it on top. As the icing sets, it will hold it in place. And watch your little girl smile!
- Always give yourself time to prepare the cake. The cake needs to cool before it can be iced, or the the frosting will pull the top layer of cake off. Make the cake the day before the party so you aren't rushed the next day.You can make a heart-shaped cake with one square pan and one round pan. After baking, lay the square cake so that it forms a diamond shape. Cut the round cake in half and place each rounded half on top of the square cake, to form the rounded tops of a heart.You can make a bunny cake by using two round cake pans. After baking, cut one round cake in half and use one half for the body. Cut the other round cake in quarters, lengthwise. Use the two outer-most lengthwise quarters for each bunny ear -- because lengthwise -- these sections have a rabbit-ear shape. Prop the two ear sections lengthwise on top of the bunny's body, Give bunny a cottontail by propping a snow-ball shaped snack cake against the cake. Other methods exist for making a cute bunny cake; this is just one way.
Things You'll Need
- Cake mix
- Mixing bowl
- Wooden spoon
- Measuring cups
- Small bowl
- Cake pans
- Pan sprayIcing sugar
- Food coloring
- Vanilla,lemon, raspberry flavoring (optional)
- Frosting spatula
- Cake decorations
- Frosting tube
- Piping gel
- Which Cake?