Life List: Make a Great Birthday Cake

Somehow I am in possession of a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old. That sounds so old. No one says “Wow” anymore when I say my kids’ ages. And yet, they still are so tiny to me. They still wake me up on the blistered edge of dawn, although now I get Alden saying, “I hate to wake you up Mommy. I’m really sorry, but I can’t make my robot dog work.” (Please note that it is a stretch to say that he hates to wake me up.)

We’re still in the time of life when a kiddie birthday party in the backyard is a Pinterest-y good time. We put up a pinata and a bounce house and had just a small gang of buddies over. (Please note that 7 is probably the oldest age eligible for a bounce house. At least boys. At least my boys. They managed to take it over on its side two times.)

Elliot has a few more years of kiddie-ness.

Elliot has a few more years of kiddie-ness.

I know that soon, at least for Alden, these days of noise makers and party hats will soon give way to laser tag and… Whatever else big boys do. Wrestling matches? Sports… Fighting? Definitely uncharted territory. This seemed like the right year to get that birthday cake off the life list.

I love to cook, but I don’t bake. I don’t have the precision. My goal was never a fondant masterpiece. Fondant takes terrible anyway, and that breaks the first rule of being a cake. I also don’t make cakes form scratch. Maybe I could have, but a box mix tastes 85% as good to me. What I wanted was something that looked cool, that spoke to who the boys are.

I did four cake trials. I baked so much cake that one got baked, iced, and thrown right in the trash. One we ate. One went to my office. I can’t even remember what happened to the other one. I did it all late at night so the boys didn’t get a sneak peek. I’m really happy with the outcome.

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Alden and Elliot both are crazy for doughnuts. Turns out I cannot make a cake this shape via creative use of a bundt pan, but I can make one with a silicone mold from the As Seen On TV store. It’s even got a sort of trough in the middle for cream filling. Pictured here is the carrot cake. We also had a version in chocolate. My boys can agree on many things, but cake flavors is not one of them. Elliot, weirdly, won’t eat anything chocolate. I’m having him tested, but until we can cure this abnormality we make allowances.

For the grown ups we did a bloody Mary bar (highly recommended!) and a cheese plate. I was riding high on my cake success, so I threw in a cheese ball for the kids.

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If you are ever looking to delight people at a party with very minimal effort, Great Ball of Cheese is the cookbook you want.


One response to this post.

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