To Bake or to Buy? Should You Make or Buy the Birthday Cake?

Editors note: I recently moved my blog to a new server. You can find this same post (and all my others) at the new location: BalancingMotherhood.com, where I post daily.

For my son’s second birthday I struggled with whether or not to make the cake myself. Last year it was an easy decision: You need something special for the first birthday. I need to make the cake, I thought. Months before the event, I took a cake decorating class. Not knowing that I had to bake and frost a cake every week for a month, I endured the class and learned the basics of how to frost a decorative cake.

The night before my son’s first birthday I was up past midnight, with yellow icing up to my elbows. It was worth it. (The wine helped.) The cake turned out so cute and I was very proud.

This year, I wanted to do that same thing. We matured from a duck cake to a car cake. He loves cars so how could I not make a cake in the shape of a car? If you’ve never made a specialty cake before, it takes a lot of work. And I mean a lot of work. And, it’s not that it’s cheaper than a store-bought cake. Even though I had all the supplies and I’d already purchased the cake mold a few months ago, I was still dreading the baking and icing of the cake. Shouldn’t I just call Publix and order the Disney Cars cake?

I was about to make the call, but finally decided that I wasn’t going to let myself fail. I want to make this cake and have him point to it and say his favorite word, “car.” So, I forged ahead; made a plan, baked and frosted that cake. Even as I was making it, I made mental notes to think twice about doing it for birthday number three.

Finally, it is complete. The little blue car cake is sitting on the table in all it’s splendor. It is adorable. The kids love it, the adults are impressed and Mommy feels great for doing something special for her son’s second birthday.

Tips:

  • Take a class at your nearby craft store. It really helps to learn the techniques to make the perfect cake.
  • Make all your frosting several days before you are ready to decorate. Store in air tight containers.
  • Make extra, white frosting. You might need to dye it for a color you didn’t plan on needing.
  • Buy the specialty gel coloring dyes; regular food dyes only make pastel icing.
  • Bake the cake a day before you want to frost it.
  • Keep a bowl of water on the table to clean the icing tips and to use on your frosting spatula to smooth the surface of the cake.
  • Frost a layer of “flat” icing before you pipe the star shapes.
  • Leave plenty of time to frost the cake. Do it the night before or early, early in the morning, depending on the time of your party.

Related:

car cake

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12 Responses to “To Bake or to Buy? Should You Make or Buy the Birthday Cake?”

  1. Tinkerbellkim Says:

    That cake is so adorable!!! I can’t wait to make cakes for baby!

  2. caki Says:

    What kind of cake would you like to make? I hope I get step by step cake decorating including leveling, filling, icing, glazes and recipes. You did the best at here. I’ll visit your blog regularly.

  3. Alicia Says:

    Caki:

    I have moved my blog — my new address is: http://www.balancingmotherhood.com. You can find a duplicate of this cake post there!

    Good luck with all of your cakes.

    Alicia

  4. Bridget Says:

    I came across your blog after typing in “car birthday cake” in google image search. Yours looked the closest to what I had had in mind. My little boy will be 2 soon. He also loves cars. I also have been envisaging him sqwaking with excitement, pointing his finger and saying “car!”. So I loved your blog entry.

    But it also made me nervous. I baked a cake once in my life, 25 years ago. It wasn’t a huge success. I have been carrying around this vision of me pulling two retangular cakes out of the oven, putting a smaller one on top of the bigger one, and wiping on a bit of icing. With biscuits for wheels.

    But I guess it’s going to be a bit trickier than that.

  5. zynga facebook Says:

    i was starting to presume i could be the only person whom cared about this, at the very least now i recognize im not extreme 🙂 i’ll make it a point to find out more about a handful of various posts after i get my morning caffeine in me, it is hard to read with out my coffee, I was really late last night practicing facebook poker and after drinking a few beers i finished up burning off all my facebook poker chips cheers 🙂

  6. Car seats for toddlers Says:

    Great birthday cake, I must admit I always make my own cake as you can personalise it to your requirements. Also saves on cost too…

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