Let’s Talk Birthday Cakes!

AJ’s cake for birthday #3: Dinosaur cake!

We have been busy celebrating AJ’s birthday, his birth week– it just may go on all birth month! So let’s talk birthday cakes. In this post I would like to 1) share a few tips for novices (like me) who dare to make their own and 2) ask for your recs for a new list, draft title “Birthday Cake Bakeries On/Near the Hill,” which I hope to compile and publish soon.

I am by no means an expert baker, but the past couple years I have made AJ’s birthday cake. Will I keep it up? I don’t know– hence the request for bakery recommendations. I put out a call on MOTH for suggestions, and have received a few so far. Comment below please or email me at cory@capitolhillkid.

AJ’s cake for birthday #2: Elmo cake!

At 3 years old, AJ loves dinosaurs and superheroes, and we went with a dinosaur theme for his cake this year (top pic). I used the King Arthur Flour Classic Birthday Cake recipe and basic buttercream frosting. Last year, he loved Elmo, and I did Smitten Kitchen’s Confetti Party Cake with Elmo on top (result of my efforts at right–proudest day of my life–although I see now my cake writing skills were lacking).

Do you want to make your kid’s birthday cake yourself but don’t really know what you’re doing? Same! Below are some of the most important things I’ve learned after making a total of two cakes in the past two years.

Prep to Make Your Cake

Hill’s Kitchen: God’s gift to Capitol Hill

Being properly equipped is most of the battle!

  1. Decide on cake size, based on how many people you’re serving.
  2. Find a recipe.
  3. Check to see if you have the correct pan sizes and equipment.
  4. Envision a cake design.
  5. Get on over to to Hill’s Kitchen (713 D St SE) and let Leah and her staff set you up with everything you need–cake pans, cake decorating bags and tips, an amazing assortment of cake sprinkles. Who needs an excuse to go to Hill’s Kitchen? This mom!!

Decorate Your Cake

The following pertains to buttercream frosting (I know nothing of fondant). Swirls and whorls are done with cake decorating bags and tips that you can get at Hill’s Kitchen, but what about drawing a mermaid, dinosaur, Elmo, superhero or princess? I learned the following from Smitten Kitchen:

  1. Google “[fill-in-the-blank] coloring page.”
  2. Find a drawing you like, print it and cut it out.
  3. Frost your cake with buttercream and refrigerate about an hour to set.
  4. Lay your cut-out on the cake where you want it to be, then use a toothpick or a knife/fork to gently etch out the outline into the frosting. Remove cut-out.
  5. Use writing gel to draw over your etched outline.
  6. Fill with piped frosting using the cake tip of your choice (practice on a plate first to make sure you get desired effect).

Forget Making Your Own Cake!

Right?? Tell me about your favorite cakes that other people bake for you, that you conveniently pick up nearby, below in the comments or at cory@capitolhillkid.com. I will compile and make a new list to help out our neighbors. Many happy birthdays to you and all of yours!

2 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Birthday Cakes!

  1. Lovely cakes! Just wanted to share that I’ve had great success with frozen buttercream transfers, a similar technique that can yield pretty polished results if you have a piping tip, parchment paper, time to make a quick batch of buttercream (powdered sugar + butter + mixer), and decent skills at tracing: https://cakejournal.com/tutorials/how-to-make-a-frozen-buttercream-transfer/ And a time saver: Buy a plain frozen, iced cake from Harris Teeter (call ahead to ask for a plain one) and add your own decorations.

    1. Wow! I had no idea about the frozen buttercream transfer technique! That looks cool! I will work up my bravery to try it 🙂 Thanks for these excellent tips!

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