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    The Three-Hour Birthday Cake

    January 25, 2013 by Brandy Vencel

    Because I became totally obsessed with the gun issue for a couple weeks there, I almost forgot to share the cake photos from when Q-Age-Five became Q-Age-Six. She is a New Year’s Eve baby, if you recall.

    This is the first time I’ve chosen a cake directly from Pinterest. Usually, I search around on the web and pin things to Pinterest so that the birthday child can pick from a selection of cakes I think I can actually make. But this time I searched on Pinterest, repinned, and there you are. Talk about a time saver!

    Q-Age-Six had requested a butterfly cake, but for some reason a photo similar to the ones you see here also turned up. I’m so glad, for I wasn’t really relishing the chance to make my 87th butterfly cake, despite how pretty they may be. I try to make something new each time, and I was coming to the end of butterfly options.

    I call this The Three-Hour Cake because that is how long it took me–along with my husband–to decorate this cake.

    The Tutorial

    I didn’t actually read directions for this cake, but instead tried to duplicate what I saw in the original photo. The cake underneath is a sourdough chocolate cake that came out a little heavy. Oh well. It is three layers. As a general rule, I choose the number of layers in a cake based upon how many guests we’re expecting rather than what the cake ends up looking like.

    I made a triple batch of frosting. While it was still white, I stacked the cakes {using frosting as the fill} and also did a crumb coat {which you can see a bit and for the record I am not a perfectionist, therefore I don’t care}. There were seven colors: pale pink, bold pink, purple, green, blue, yellow, and orange. I divided the frosting evenly into seven bowls and tinted all the colors. Then, I put star tips onto bags and filled the bags with the frosting.

    Do not try to make this cake without seven separate bags of frosting with their own tips.

    You may lose your mind if you try to do that. I skimp on bags and tips as a general rule, but this cake makes that impossible.

    I took four colors and my husband took three and we just started putting stars on, trying not to touch colors. As the night wore on, I cared less and less {Type-B} while my husband began to feel challenged to make sure no color ever touched {Type-A}. I accidentally touched two stars of the same color and he took it off and fixed it.

    He was very passionate about it, even though when we started he thought cake decorating was a pretty lame way for us to spend a Friday evening.

    I’m just saying.

    Three hours later: pretty cake. It is really easy to make; it just takes a. lot. of. time.

    But it was fun and, more importantly, the birthday girl was completely thrilled. There was a lot of oohing and ahhing and jumping up and down cheering, which was very satisfying for the two tired parents hosting the party.

    I keep joking to my husband that when they are big I’m not going to make fancy cakes anymore; I will retire. But actually, I can see myself calling my thirty-year-old and telling her to look at all the cakes I pinned on Pinterest–which one does she want?

    What can I say? It is a fun tradition.

    And see? I made it through the entire post without freaking out that my littlest daughter turned six.

    Oh. my. gosh. Is she six?

    I keep telling them to stop growing up, but they are all four disobedient.

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  • Reply Karen G. January 29, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Your mileage may vary, but…

    I’ve always done the fun-cake-for-birthdays tradition, too. I’ve made castle cake, camo cake, Redwall cake, and snake cake…to name a few. Then this thing happened. They became teenagers, and I started getting: “I want that raspberry-filled cheesecake for my birthday” or “I want homemade Danish for my birthday.” What??? No more kid cakes? No. Grown-up cake/dessert. I’ve got one little one left, and I figure only a few years of special cakes in my future. I’m thinking Angry Birds this year… πŸ˜€

    • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts January 29, 2013 at 6:39 pm

      Karen, you are probably right! My oldest actually asked for PIES last year. I am trying to collect some recipes for special desserts, just in case. He is my first cake casualty. πŸ™‚

      I am sure I’ll figure out a way to make it take all evening, either way. πŸ˜‰

      I would love to see photos of your past cakes!

    • Reply Karen G. January 31, 2013 at 11:45 am

      My kids (and I) are so old…some of those old cakes are only recorded on real film–not digital! I’m remembering dinosaur cake…airplane cake…hedgehog cake…chicken pox cake… (Okay, that was just spotty frosting in honor of Elizabeth’s first birthday. She was recovering from chicken pox and still had scabs. On her birthday this year she will be 20!!!! How did that happen?)

    • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts January 31, 2013 at 5:12 pm

      Chicken pox cake?? That is hilarious!

      We joke that our youngest is the only one who gets animal cakes not because they are animals he likes, but because they are animals of which he reminds us. So far he’s been a frog and a monkey. It is possible a bear is forthcoming. πŸ™

  • Reply Lady M January 28, 2013 at 7:06 pm


  • Reply Rahime January 27, 2013 at 7:05 am

    Bah! My comment didn’t appear again. Oh well. I LOVE this cake, it’s gorgeous. I was a little bummed this year because someone else insisted on making Eleanor’s b’day cake. I let her and it turned out fine, but I don’t think I’ll be doing that again–she put 5 candles on it???–I’m too much of a control freak. I had originally planned to try a rainbow cake, so I’ll probably do that next year if I still have the guts to try a tough one.

    Oh, and please share if you find a good white or yellow cake recipe. I have a chocolate one that I adore, but can’t seem to get the yellow…my favorite…quite right.

  • Reply Phyllis January 26, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Your daughter has good taste. I would have gone for the 87th butterfly cake. My baby would have, too. We’re a little obsessed with butterflies around here. But the one you came up with looks gorgeous!

    • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts January 26, 2013 at 6:29 pm

      Well, I have a daughter turning 8 in a few weeks, so you never know. I might end up with the 87th butterfly cake in spite of all this! πŸ™‚

  • Reply Mandie L. January 26, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    My daughter (age 3.5) looked over my shoulder while I was reading today. “Mommy! That’s my cake! That’s my birthday cake for my tea party when I turn 4! Please Mommy?”

    I can’t imagine my DH helping with cake decorating. Maybe I could get away with a smaller one (fewer layers). πŸ™‚

    • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts January 26, 2013 at 6:29 pm

      Looking at cakes online in front of children is always a danger. They imagine we are way more talented than we really are, or at least my children do!

      With that said, I saw one very similar yesterday that might work for you. Instead of just a crumb coat, this gal did a nice smooth white frosting all over. It was the same exact idea, but she only did the top, the edge of the top, and then the very bottom as a border, leaving the sides a pretty white. I thought it looked lovely, and waaaay less time consuming. Doing the sides was the hardest part.

  • Reply amy in peru January 26, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    are you amazed at all the comments you’ve gotten already?!
    so, i wanted to come over and say, that the cake is amazing. you know, like what everyone else says.
    AND i wanted to say that this post makes me smile and think it would be fun to be with you.
    EVEN if i might be a mite more like your husband… and would prefer to be with you while doing something entirely else.


    • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts January 26, 2013 at 6:26 pm

      I figure all the comments mean everyone else is also ready to stop talking about guns. πŸ™‚

      You can come watch me decorate cakes any time. Except that I only do it four times a year {usually} but you know what I mean…

  • Reply EJN January 26, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    That looks great, fun, exhausting. So impressed. Happy Birthday to your little one.

  • Reply Kansas Mom January 26, 2013 at 2:54 pm


    I cannot imagine Kansas Dad ever willingly helping me to decorate a cake like this.

    My only hope for amazingly decorated cakes is to ask my friends to make them for my kids (which I have done and they have made). I try to stick to angel food cake myself – delicious and undecorated.

    Have you looked in The Cake Bible? I only make non-angel-food-cake-cake once or twice a year (if that), but I’ve had good luck with these recipes, particularly the butter cakes.

    • Reply dawn February 1, 2013 at 4:58 pm

      I like the Cake Bible, too. The All-American chocolate cake is soooo good.

  • Reply Anonymous January 26, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    Beautiful Cake!!! My daughter turned 6 this month also though my cake was a lot less time intensive…simple icing and cut paper decor on top πŸ™‚

  • Reply walking January 26, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Impressed!!!! That would have been a three-year cake for me!

  • Reply Hayley January 26, 2013 at 4:56 am

    Well done, friend, well done!

    We have a cake tradition too. Sometimes I wonder what I’ve got myself into. Other times I am ready for the challenge! I suppose it depends on what cake the child chooses. I was so into the baking cake thing that I used to make a cake for Randy and my birthday too. Yeah, that got nixed after the first year or two.

    I have two (Australian) cake books if you’re ever interested to take a peek. My girls *love* to sit and look at them weeks before their birthday.

    Oh dear, it seems I am writing a blog post on your comments section. So sorry.

    • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts January 26, 2013 at 6:32 am

      I would love to look at your cake books! I am still looking for that perfect cake recipe to go with my frosting. I have a chocolate that is fine {not this one though}, but a basic white or yellow cake? Still nothing after ten years of trying…HELP! πŸ™‚

    • Reply Hayley January 26, 2013 at 7:39 am

      Oooh… maybe in my cake books you will find your wish. πŸ™‚

    • Reply Jeanne January 26, 2013 at 12:35 pm

      Are they Women’s Weekly ones, Haley? πŸ™‚

  • Reply Jeanne January 26, 2013 at 12:45 am

    Wow. Just wow.

  • Reply sara January 26, 2013 at 12:30 am

    This is so pretty! You and Si must be very patient people. πŸ™‚

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