How I Baked a Birthday Cake


I have always been a cooking and baking enthusiast. The kitchen and its cookware is where I feel at home. It is where my world revolves. Food is my passion and I love to entertain. It was a family member’s birthday so I decided to throw the get-together at my place.

When I get an idea into my head it is nearly impossible to let it go. I decided I was going to bake a birthday cake! I thought “Wow, how exciting is this going to be!” I quickly went through all of my cookbooks, browsed recipes online, told all my friends how I was going to bake a cake. I don’t mean to brag but I am quite fabulous in the kitchen and everyone knows so, this couldn’t be too hard. Could it!?

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After a while of browsing online, I found a cake recipe from Taste of Home for Cupid’s Chocolate Cake. I decided that this was my recipe. I had borrowed some cake pans from my mother but they were only 8 inches and she only gave me two. I decided to go with this recipe and purchase some 9-inch cake pans, three to be exact. I then decided to go with cocoa buttercream icing instead of white icing as the birthday girl is a chocolate fanatic (what woman isn’t?)!!! Fabulous, I have my recipes and I am ready to roll!

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It was Friday and I had a movie date at 6:30 pm. I would leave work at 5:00 pm and go to Michael’s craft store to purchase THE GOODS. Although I didn’t have the money to spend there is something in me that just wanted to do it right. I wouldn’t spare a penny for this birthday cake! I picked out my cake pans and for some reason, I only grabbed 2. Maybe subconsciously I wanted to return the next day, I am not quite sure. I purchased some gum paste mix, glitter powder, brushes, flower cutting cutters, the best rotating cake stand, a cake leveler, and a few other small items. I was so excited! When I arrived home I quickly set up my gum paste flower-making operation and began to make roses. They turned out fabulous – maybe not so much realistic but quite cute. I put them in the fridge as I was going to attempt my own personal bake-off on Saturday.

Saturday morning came and I ran into town to get my cake pan. I picked up a few more items at Michael’s – another 2 cake pans (they came in sets of 2), a spatula, some fondant writing icing. I ran home and baked the cakes – they turned out great other than the fact I had the racks in the oven too close and ripped the tops off the cakes when I pulled them out to check on them! Oh well, I will fix that with my handy cake leveler! Ha – I knew that would come in handy!

The cakes cooked perfectly and came out of the pan with ease. My mother had never been a great pan-greaser and it was an ability I always lacked. This time I had used shortening and eagerly rubbed each pan down perfectly. Then I sprinkled flour through the pan and sifted it around like I was panning for gold. By golly, it worked! Three perfectly baked, 9-inch chocolate cake layers were born and I was a miracle worker!

While the cake layers cooled on my handy cooling racks I cleaned the house, prepped some food for the next day’s meal (yes, I cooked that too), and prepped for the great icing. I made the whipped cream centers like the recipe stated – I don’t know if I’ll do this again. It was a bit too soft for my liking but once the cake was eaten it did turn out well. I used my cake leveler to level off the cakes and carefully placed each one layer by layer with the whipped filling in between.

The buttercream process begins! My perfectly softened butter awaits me to make the most delicious buttercream icing on this earth. I love buttercream – I serve it on my delicious brownies and tasty cupcakes, anything I can. Buttercream doesn’t actually use THAT much butter – when you start to mix it, it will turn into little tiny balls. Then you add the milk (or water) and VOILA! Amazing, delicious frosting! I whip it for a while so it turns light and fluffy and I taste it often. You can never be sure about buttercream!

The icing process begins – I panic at first! Tackling the top of the cake and trying to concentrate. It’s about 7:00 pm now and I am quite exhausted. The phone rings and it’s a work call. I attempt to ice the cake while I am arranging business and calling person after person to get this work situation resolved. In the end, I end up taking a hot cup of water to dip my spatula into so the icing will smooth well. It turns out okay but not perfect.

I take this little fancy gadget from Michaels – a piece of plastic with a scalloped edge and trace it around the cake. It doesn’t work! The edges are all random and not the same – what have I done to my masterpiece? I take my trusty spatula and frantically get more hot water. I run the spatula around the cake with icing – evening it out and smoothing it. I decide this looks better but I will still use my fancy little gadget to do the edging. This time is better! Not perfect, but better. Okay, I will settle with that.

Now comes the gum paste flowers which I so carefully put together the night before. I place the cake on the kitchen table so I can work from above! This did not turn out how I wanted – I should have made the flowers like a bunch or planned out their placement.

Next time I will do that, right? They end up in a lumpy center in the middle of the cake but I settle as they are now lodged in the thick buttercream frosting. I take my fondant writer out to write the birthday message and nothing happens! Gross! I wipe it off and fix up the look of the icing. I’ll cover this up with some pink glitter and screw the writing on the cake – she’s a big girl!

The edge of the cake at the bottom looks just wrong – so plain and boring. I take out the fondant writer and go around the edge with the pink goopy stuff and that actually turned out quite great! Some more glitter on top and everything is fabulous. Not perfect but I tried. This cake that I probably spent $200.00 with all the items I “needed” was totally worth it!

Sunday dinner comes around and I have 14 guests they look at the cake and are all quite pleased. I get requests to bake cakes in the future and I laugh and look at these people like they are seriously mistaken. It’s dessert time and I bring out the cake to wish her a happy birthday – it looks fabulous with the candles lit and I’m very pleased with myself.

The moment of truth is that first slice. Oh, I also bought a pie slicer/server! Fabulous – about another $14.00 towards this cake! The cake cuts perfectly and each slice comes out in gigantic moist pieces of chocolatey goodness. The gum paste flowers break apart! I suppose they are not meant for this. Next time maybe I will make flowers with my buttercream instead – at least they taste good! The cake turned out perfectly in the taste department. In the end, I am looking forward to baking another because HEY, I have to find a way to pay down the costs of my supplies!

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