Tuesday, May 27, 2014

How to Make A Great Birthday Cake

I always make my children's birthday cakes, and every time I have a grown-up taste them they always comment on how good they are.  They taste so much better than straight from a box or purchased from a store.  And they're really easy to make!  I do start with a cake mix, but then add other ingredients to make it taste homemade, and to make the texture and moisture perfect.

You can do it too, to make a birthday cake of any shape or flavor!  Here's how to do it:

Best Birthday Cake

1 standard boxed cake mix, any flavor, any brand
1/2 package of instant pudding, any flavor (though coordinate with your cake flavor)
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to temperature listed on box.  Prepare a baking dish (or several if you're making a layer cake) in the following manner:  Grease the sides well with vegetable shortening.

Place the pan(s) on top of a piece of waxed paper and trace around the bottom with a pencil, then cut out the shape you traced.  Make a large "X" on the inside bottom of the baking pan(s) and then put the waxed paper on top.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, half a package of pudding, flour, sugar, vanilla, baking powder, egg, water, and all the ingredients that the recipe on the cake mix calls for (usually more eggs, water, and oil).  Mix on low speed for 30 seconds, then on high for 2 minutes or until well mixed.  Pour batter carefully into prepared pan(s).  Place in preheated oven to bake.

Baking will probably take 15 minutes more than the suggested time on the box, unless you're making lots of layers.  When a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few crumbs clinging, it's done baking.

Remove from oven and let cool 10-15 minutes.  Run a butter knife around the edges of the pan, then invert onto a cooling rack.  It should come out easily, without any breakage, because of the waxed paper on the bottom.  You can peel the waxed paper off now or later, whichever you prefer.

Cool cake completely, or wrap tightly in layers of plastic wrap and freeze, before frosting and decorating.

And if you want your cake to taste REALLY good, use this frosting recipe!

Buttercream Icing
Recipe by Wilton

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
1 cup vegetable shortening, NOT butter flavored
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (if you want pure white frosting, use clear vanilla)
1/2 teaspoon butter flavoring
1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring (can be omitted if you have nut allergies)
1 lb powdered sugar
1 tablespoon meringue powder (this can be purchased in the baking aisle of most grocery stores, or at craft stores like Michaels)
Water as needed

In the mixer, mix butter, shortening, and salt until well combined, about 2 minutes.  Add butter, vanilla, and almond flavors and mix well.  Add powdered sugar and meringue powder and mix on low until incorporated, about 5 minutes.  Test the consistency and add water, just a teaspoon at a time, until it's the way you want it.  I usually add about 2 tablespoons.  If you add too much water you can add in some more powdered sugar to thicken it up.

You can keep this icing in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.  It makes enough to frost one cake made with the recipe above.

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