When I was a little girl, all of my Birthday Cakes were vanilla ice cream cakes with chocolate crunchies in the middle. This was fine with me, because I loved those cakes and they were always a treat. But when I was in college and my parents visited on my mother's birthday, I actually baked a chocolate birthday cake. And then my friend Michael said we had to decorate it. He then proceeded to mix up numerous tiny bowls of colored frosting. Next he rolled miniature cones of waxed paper and filled them with the frosting. I watched in amazement as he wrote Happy Birthday in lovely script and covered the cake with flowers and vines as he skillfully wielded his little wax paper cones. I was enchanted. Of course I married this clever man. And since then, for over twenty years, we've had countless homemade birthday and every other occasion cakes.
Now, don't get me wrong. Our cakes don't look like they came from Wilton graduates, because they don't. But they are delicious, made with real butter and eggs, and taste wonderfully homemade, because they are. We have a giant 11x15 cake pan that we use for all special occasions. For chocolate cake we just double the recipe on the back of the Hershey Cocoa can. For white cake we use the following recipe, absolutely delicious alongside Turkey Hill Vanilla Ice Cream. (Guess we're partial to local brands.)
As written, I think this recipe makes three 8 or 9" rounds, though I've never tried it that way. We double this recipe to make a large 11x15 cake. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour your cake pan.
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 4 eggs, separated
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 3 cups flour
- 3 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 cup milk
Beat the egg whites until stiff. In a large mixing bowl cream butter and sugar, add yolks and vanilla. Gradually mix in dry ingredients and milk. Fold in egg whites. Spread into prepared pan and bake until cake tests done. Start checking it after 25 minutes, but it usually needs at least another 10-20 minutes more. Top will be a lovely golden color. Cool for a while then turn out onto a rack to finish cooling before frosting.
Frost with Buttercream Frosting:
For a large cake we use 2 sticks softened butter, 10 cups powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon vanilla, and sufficient milk. Beat together into frosting. :-)
The children are now most often the ones to make each other's birthday cakes. Most recently we had a Narnian dwarf atop Josiah's birthday cake, made by Jonathan. And here is the cake Jonathan made us for our 20th Anniversary last August:
Here is a cake Jonathan made for our Monsignor T. on the occasion of his 94th birthday. It has the diocesan coat of arms, as he is the oldest priest in our diocese.
Narnia fans can't just go out and get a chocolate Wardrobe cake at a bakery, like this one Lydia made for Mary Rose. Or a cake with a lily and a rose like this one I actually made for Kateri Therese's baptism:
And here is the aircraft carrier made for Josiah by Jonathan, with frosting
fingerprints texturizing by Eliza.
So there you have almost a year's worth of our Family Style Birthday Cakes. The children have a great time making these for each other, creating memories and traditions as well as yummy cakes. And for all of us, it's downright Lovely.