Plain to Pretty in 10 Minutes: A Cake Story
Thursday, January 31, 2008
I like to think I'm a spontaneous kind of Mama. Planning is nice, but I'm also usually game to throw caution to the wind and take an opportunity for fun when I can.

Last weekend we celebrated Miss E's birthday. That Friday, we decided to visit Grandpa at the beach after church on Sunday, and I planned to bring a cake for her. I'd make it Saturday.

Saturday was the Boy Scout Pinewood Derby. Which went on. And on. And on. We got their around noon, and left after 5 pm. Husband dear had to work, so I had the kids on my own (the stars aligned and ALL of them were so well behaved!). Mr. R was the Bear champion and took second place overall, and we celebrated by going to Ryan's buffet for dinner. Also, Mama did not start the crockpot, thinking the whole ordeal would last 2 hours, tops. Not to mention, I was going to take full advantage of the fact that all seven munchkins had finally figured out how to use their manners. No way was I going to waste that calm, happy mood on scrambled eggs or some other throw together dinner at home!

Saturday was shot. I baked her cake at 10 pm. I also made up a batch of frosting (so easy to make yourself, and so worth it!)

Super Easy Homemade Buttercream Frosting
(This is quite a heavy, rich frosting and holds its shape well for decorating.)

Whip two sticks of softened butter until very creamy.

Add in at least 3 cups of powdered sugar, more if you like it really sweet, until it is crumbly and dry looking.

Then add in milk 1 tablespoon at a time until the frosting is smooth.

Add vanilla, cocoa powder, or both.

Add in more milk if you need to thin it. Store in the fridge - it's better the day after you make it.

I tried a new cake recipe, so I made the cake in a pan and two cupcakes so I could try it before serving it to everyone.

Miss E mentioned she wanted a Mermaid cake, and we looked at various Mermaid designs on the Internet on Friday, but really, at that point I didn't think it was going to happen. But how could I let the little girl's birthday fall victim to spontaneity?

I knew I wouldn't have time to decorate on Sunday - we leave for Mass at 9:15 and don't get home until just before 1 pm (CCD is before Mass, and we live 30 minutes from the church). It takes 45 minutes to drive to Grandpa's house, and we were scheduled to visit at 2:30-3 pm (it gets dark around 5 pm, and he doesn't have room for us in his house, so we visit in their amazing garden.) Add in making lunch for the hungry mob, and that left me with 20 minutes to decorate the cake while everyone changed out of their church clothes.

So. I had a 9x13" yellow cake still in the pan, 1 cupcake, and a little girl with Mermaid dreams. A quick stop at the dollar store on the way home from Mass produced vanilla wafers, Swedish fish, and a generic Barbie doll. We're ready to go!

First, I whipped the frosting (it hardens when refrigerated, so we had to get the butter smooth again.) I divided it in half, and tinted half blue. The other half I added a bit of cocoa powder to, so it was brownish tan. (Mr R can't have food dyes, which is why I was making everything from scratch to begin with.)

I had a vague thought of frosting Barbie's legs like a Mermaid tail, briefly lamented the fact that I don't buy fruit rollups, because that would have been easy, and then remembered that I had green plastic wrap (also from the dollar store) leftover from Christmas baking.

Take two pieces of green plastic wrap, about the size of the cake pan. Fold one in half, and one in thirds. This will become the Mermaid tail to top the cake with.

The one folded in thirds, fold up in triangles like you are folding a flag. This is your flipper.

Wrap the long piece around the dolls legs, adding the flipper at the end.

Instant Mermaid!

Now put some vanilla wafers in a bag. Make husband dear crush them using brute strength and a rolling pin. It should look like sand.

Put the cupcake in the middle of the cake for "interest", and to become a rock for the Mermaid. Frost half the cake with brown frosting, and sprinkle with cookie crumbs. Frost the other half with blur frosting. Use the back of a spoon to make waves.

Decorate with fruit gummies, and add in the Mermaid.

This picture was taken after Miss E had repositioned the Mermaid about 1400 times, so she's a little ...askew. But you get the idea! And, Miss E loved it!

UPDATED: I've linked this to Shereen's Sew Crafty Friday. Also, please note the Mermaid's clothes. I didn't give her a clam shell bra on purpose - if I wouldn't let my daughter dress like that, why would I put such a thing on her cake? Although, I'm not planning on coloring her hair purple, either...well, anyway, modesty begins at home.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 1/31/2008 08:35:00 AM | Permalink | |