30 September 2011

Birthday cakeS

Word to the wise mama: When you're picking up those birthday supplies, grab a bottle of Cab or some other soul-warming drinky winky. Because after the kind of 3-year-old celebrating we've been doing around here, you'll need it.

My big boy is 3, and while I believe he grew out of the Terrible Twos, he's making great progress in the Thwarting Threes. As in, anything I attempt to do, he somehow manages to intervene, steal the show, redirect my attention or otherwise drive me insane. Like yesterday when my sister-in-law called at the exact same time I notice a huge bug crawling up my arm. Either of these things alone could redirect one's attention. But at that very moment Jasper notified my that, despite being a mere inches away from the toilet, he'd peed his pants. Then he kicked off his Crocs (my direction, of course) that were mere portable puddles of piss. See what I mean? I can't freak out about a bug. I can't have a conversation with another adult. I'm dodging flying pee, throwing a kid in the tub and mopping the floor with what was once a nice hand towel.

Despite all of this, I can't get enough of this crazy boy. His grand day was filled with excitement that started with chocolate chip pancakes and ended with one huge slice of cake. And after the boys were snoring happily in a sugar-coated dreamland and I had scrubbed frosting from the floor, walls and clothes, the Hubs and I enjoyed a beer. And a little peace and quiet.

I made cake and cupcakes on two separate celebrations. I know, the kid's only 3, and I'm already certifiable. The first was cupcakes baked into ice cream cones. The second was a more traditional cake. They both used the same cake recipe, which you can find here. And the frosting is vanilla cream cheese.

It was easier than I'd guessed to bake the cake right in the cones. Just placed them on a baking sheet, filled with batter about 3/4 of the way full and baked. After one batch of underdone cakes, I discovered it was better not to pack them too tightly together as I did first in a casserole dish, thinking they'd tip over too easily. The second round I used a cookie sheet and just walked them very carefully to the oven. After cooling completely, I frosted them. Then we set up several small bowls of candies and let kids decorate their own. Fun, yummy and so much less messy than regular cake or cupcakes!

To make the J, I placed a piece of wax paper on top of the cake before frosting. With a Sharpie marker, I wrote the letter J on the wax paper in the size that was appropriate for the cake. Then, I placed the wax paper on a cutting board and used a paring knife to cut out a stencil, using the original J I'd made as a guideline for size. You could also trace an actual stencil on the wax paper. Then, after frosting the cake, I placed the wax paper stencil directly on the frosting and filled in with the sprinkles. After carefully removing the wax paper stencil, I then used a small plate to hold just over the cake to start decorating the outer rim and side. Then I filled in the sides using wax paper to help push them into the frosting. Before doing any frosting, always remember to line the cake plate with pieces of wax paper that will easily be removed after frosting. This leaves you with a clean plate without gobs of frosting all over!