Post By: Sarah – Wife/Athlete/Mother
Growing up, my mom made all of the kid’s birthday cakes. She owned multiple cake pan shapes and we would always get to choose whether we wanted the puppy, the rocking horse, the CareBear or one of the various other shapes. The night before the party she would sit at the kitchen table, usually in her bathrobe, with multiple bowls of icing in front of her all dyed in different colors. She would have icing bags with different tips and would carefully star, stripe and trace out the pattern on the cakes. My brother, sister, and I would usually sit uncomfortably close to her, getting to help on the less difficult tasks but mostly just trying to steal a lick of icing! We always got to lick the icing bowls once the cake was complete.
Recently, my mom and I had a conversation about her “back in the day” cake making. She laughed about how it was always so stressful and how things went wrong more often than they went right. When she was telling me this, all I could do was smile, picturing the scene. For me, these times provided moments that have now become fond memories. I know the easy way out would have been for her to buy all of our birthday cakes. However, the memories I have of those nights are so sweet … both literally and figuratively! I told my mom that I wanted to continue her tradition because I want my child to have the same experiences that I enjoyed so much as a kid.
Therefore, this post is on sharing my first homemade cake experience for our future child. Darren and I decided to make the pregnancy announcement to his office with a cake that read “GOing to have a BABY”. As many of you know, Darren works for the company ElliptiGO, so this was our attempt at being clever.
To make my cakes, I usually start with a box cake mix that I “doctor” up a bit. This time I chose the Betty Crocker French Vanilla flavor. Over the years, box cake mixes have gotten smaller so in order to get a fuller layer cake, I extend the mix with my own ingredients. This is especially easy to do when you have a vanilla flavored cake.
For this recipe I used the following:
1 Betty Crocker French Vanilla mix
1 cup flour
½ cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1.5 cups water
½ cup applesauce
¼ cup oil
To top it off, I made butter cream icing that I dyed green for ElliptiGO. My icing recipe is more of a “taste as I go to get the right flavor/texture approach”, but the basic ingredients I include are powder sugar, butter, Crisco, vanilla and milk. To make the smoother white icing in the center of the cake, I used a cookie icing known as “royal icing”, which includes powdered sugar, vanilla and milk.
As with my childhood traditions, we definitely ran into a few issues with decorating this cake. Our home in San Diego doesn’t have air-conditioning so the icing began to get too hot and started running all over the place. Luckily, some creative strategy and an emergency trip to the fridge salvaged it! While I quickly created a “barrier” of icing flowers to hold in the dripping white frosting, Darren cleared out a shelf in the fridge to cool and harden the cake on. Overall, I think the cake looked pretty good … and it tasted pretty darn good too, which is really the most important part anyway!!!