Thursday, September 10, 2009

Beware Those First Birthdays

Just when nothing seems to be inspiring me lately - not inside or out of the kitchen - along comes an opportunity for me to beg my way into helping out with another first birthday. Gosh, I'm so pushy!! Watch out if you have a child turning one... I'm liable to show up on your front doorstep with off-set spatulas and decorating bags and tips in hand!

Funny, that's almost exactly how things went down last week: friend with most adorable son ever having a first birthday... Kara and Chris (and a furry little black dog) jump in car and roadtrip for the sake of cake.

For a second, just pretend the aforementioned friend had asked me to help (rather than me inviting us down to stay with the birthday boy's family and insisting that I would love to help with any and all preparations). After that realize that said friend has more than adequate baking skills and almost professional cake-decorating skills. It's at this point that you ask... "Kara, what were you doing there again?"

I just can't help it - say the words "first birthday" and I come a-callin'.

Given that introduction, it should come as no surprise that Jayne had everything picked out and planned out long before the troops arrived. Our tasks consisted of only baking and decorating. And so we baked a cute over-sized cupcake shaped cake, a dozen cupcakes (how cute is that... mini-versions of the main event!), and a two-layered, perfectly round - perfectly monogrammed, smash cake.

And yes, I'm allowed to describe parts of the cakes as perfect because I had absolutely nothing to do with their lack of imperfections.

Thankfully, all of Jayne's cake decorating of years past carried us to (and through) the finish line. Armed with my now go-to buttercream icing, which I must highly recommend, she covered every surface of chocolate cake like someone on a Food Network challenge. As I didn't make a very good assistant or sous chef (ever heard of a molten cake... sure... but how about within a sheet cake?!), I was even more grateful for my friend's piping and frosting skills as well as a super cute birthday boy for endless distractions.

Wilton Buttercream Icing
Yield: about 3 cups of icing (enough for a two-layered cake)

1/2 c solid vegetable shortening
1/2 c butter or margarine (softened)
1 tsp vanilla extract (the recipe calls for clear but we had no problem with regular vanilla)
4 c sifted confectioners' sugar
2 TBSP milk

In the bowl of your mixer, cream shortening and butter. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.

Keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use. Kept in an airtight container, icing can be stored two weeks. Re-whip before using.

*For best piping consistency, add 2 TBSP light corn syrup and whip on medium speed to incorporate.


  1. Very cute! I only had Dewey's cake squares (beyond Cash's smash cake, which my cousin made.) Impressive!

  2. No fair - I wish I could have been there too!


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