Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year! Let’s Bake a Cake!

Two days early on this one, but it fits the occasion.

My family always celebrates the New Year with a month of Birthdays!  The month looks like this:

1 Jan – Niece Alexis
2 Jan – Brother Jimmy
11 Jan – myself
19 Jan – Brother Chuck
20 Jan – Son Evan

And that’s just the family members who have birthdays this month.  Let’s not forget so many friends of mine that celebrate birthdays as well.  With each Birthday, there is a Birthday cake.  And with each cake, an unnecessary, but very necessary added expense to the budget for the month.

When Tyler was younger, his first few birthdays were celebrated with store brought cakes, highly decorated with tons of super sweet icing, and cheap toys.  The cakes cost anywhere from $16 and up.  That was a decade and a half ago, and of course it was just for a plain cake with just Happy Birthday on it, not fancy plastic balloons, and toys, and tri-colored icing.  So, one day, so long ago in the past, I was pricing a Spider-man cake, and it was over $30, which was way over ½ of the Birthday budget!  So, instead, I ordered just the toy on the cake for $4.99 and bought a regular chocolate cake, with white icing that I dyed, as well as gel for writing.  (And for anyone who knows me, know that my handwriting is horrible, so I used the gel icing for the spider web for Spider-man.)  The total cost for the cake, $8.16 plus tax. 

This gave me an idea, which only grew with each child, and each passing birthday.  I will make and design my own birthday cakes for now on.  What a revelation!    How inexpensive would it be to bake, and decorate my own birthday cakes!  On top of that, my children love the idea that their mom makes them custom Birthday cakes, shaped as robots, race tracks, mountain tops, soccer balls, etc.

At first, the cakes started out as flat, 2-D cakes with just the images cut out, decorated with icing.  Then, I started watching Cake Boss, and secretly wished that I could make cakes like they did on TV.  One day, I Googled fondant recipes, as well as recipes for the best cakes to carve, and slowly, I learned how to make Marshmallow Fondant, and very dense sponge cake used for carving.  3-D cakes were born!

What I’m saying is, with a little creativity, some hard work, patience, powdered sugar and marshmallows; beautiful cake dreams do come true.    It’s still a learning process for me.  I get tips from my Aunt Tina, and I hope to one day make cakes as fabulous as hers.

So, to Live Well when you have a month full of Birthdays to celebrate, take a little time to learn even a little bit about cake decorating.  Your children will love that you took that extra time and effort to make a cake as special as them, even if it’s not perfect.

In the upcoming weeks, I will post pictures of Evan’s Birthday Cake, with directions and recipes as well so you can try your hand at cake decorating.

Happy New Year from Living Well!  May this year be prosperous, full of fun, and full of home made cakes that you and your family will love!

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