DIY: Kids’ birthday cakes

14 04 2009

img_1647My daughter turned 11 last week but is celebrating with friends today. That means I was in the kitchen yesterday whipping up a birthday cake to go with her party theme.

Why pay a fortune for a cake when you can do it yourself for much less — and bake up some fond childhood memories?

A big animal lover and the proud owner of a miniature dachshund named Maggie, Caroline chose to have a dog theme. At 11, she is computer savvy so I sent her to the Internet to look for instructions for a dog-themed cake.

All of the cakes she found were cute, but several were way above my abilities. After 21 years of  kids’ birthday cakes, I know my limits.  We settled on a super-simple cake with a high cuteness quotient.

As you can see from the photo, Caroline was all smiles with the dog bowl cake she helped me make. We used a chocolate cake mix to bake two 9-inch layers. Then, following the instructions here, we carved and frosted the layers into a dog bowl. In case you haven’t already guessed, the dog food is Cocoa Puffs.

The total cost of the cake was about $3.25. The box of Cocoa Puffs was the most expensive  item at $2 after coupon. The cans of frosting were 50 cents each after triple coupons and the cake mix was no more than 25 cents.

To compare, quarter sheet cakes at the grocery store start at $18. Add any type of personalization, and you’re looking at $25 or more. Add a licensed plastic toy or two, and the price skyrockets.

I have, on a few spendthrift occasions, purchased cakes. But for most of my kids’ birthdays, I have created my own — with the help of a magazine article or, more recently, online instructions. Some of my favorites:

*an orange striped Tigger cake, which required massive amounts of cutting and piecing together to form the head, body and tail of the famous friend of  Winnie the Pooh.

*a giant Lego cake made by placing cupcakes upside down on a 13 by 9 cake and employing massive amounts of frosting.img_0705

*a sleepover cake made with a 13 by 9 cake,  Twinkies, vanilla wafers and, you guessed it, massive amounts of frosting.

*and my most favorite of all, a doll cake I make every year for my daughter’s family birthday party — theimg_0700 very same cake that my mother made for me since my first birthday. It’s the same doll, the same recipe and the same mold. This has become such a tradition — and it’s so easy — that we wouldn’t think of doing anything different.

None of these cakes looks professional, but they all have a certain homemade charm to them. And I always tell myself, these cakes are not works of art but rather the work of a mom looking to make her child’s big day special without breaking the bank.

If the cake is a real dud, I remind myself that the evidence will be eaten.img_1645




One response

16 04 2009

Those were very impressive cakes.. love ’em.. I would rather have that doll cake for my little angel’s 3rd birthday.. she love dolls.. 😉

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