Without a doubt, one of the things I like best about being a mom is having the ability to make the boys' birthday cakes. I suppose I'm a little old fashioned in that I truly believe if there is homemade cake, colourful balloons and a nicely wrapped present, everything else that happens on a birthday is secondary. Some years there are big birthday gifts (that's the 10th birthday in our household) and other years there are simple celebrations, but regardless of the type of party we have there is always, always a homemade cake.
When the kids were little the cakes weren't always pretty; they were fashioned from a cake mix and often iced into a cloying and colourful mess. But when the boys hit their third and fourth birthdays I knew it was time to do something about this growing birthday cake passion of mine. I enrolled in the baking program at George Brown College in Toronto, and followed that up with a cake-decorating certificate from a private school close by. To this day, my cakes aren't perfect, but they're nice, and making them is one of my favourite things to do.
For work assignments I tend to get far more creative than I do when I make my own family's cakes. But I like challenging myself to come up with a cake that looks impressively difficult, while simultaneously being easy enough for the average mom to execute. Which is why I've decide to start a monthly series here on the blog, which will be known as "Let Them Eat Cake: A Guide to Making Birthdays Sweeter".
Are you excited? I am.
So, first up.... before we get into making a variety of sweet confections I want to share with you my favourite tools for making a pretty cake. I'm sure there are more impressive gadgets that can be used, but I want to keep this as real and easy as possible.
My list of must-have cake making and decorating tools are:
- Cake pans (6", 8”, 9", 10", sheet pan)
- One small, medium and large straight spatula
- One small offset spatula
- Piping bag, tips (round, star and leaf) and coupler
- Parchment paper
- Assorted gel-paste food colourings
- Cake stands (I happen to collect them)
- Rotating cake stand (completely optional)
There are a few other tools I keep on hand, but they usually only come out for specialty cakes and we'll get into those when the time comes. However, the items listed above will yield the prettiest of cakes and in future posts will cover how to use each, plus instructions for some piping and icing techniques that will impress your party guests.
I'm curious though, how do you feel about making birthday cakes? Do you like store-bought cakes or making your own? What's the best cake you've ever made?