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BIRTHDAYS, Cakes & Confetti

By Jackie Burrell
Thursday, February 26th, 2009 at 4:17 pm in Cuisine.

Birthday Cake (Bob Fila, Chicago Tribune, MCT Direct) Ahhh, birthdays! Sure, the party hats and games are splendid, but there’s nothing better or more iconic than a birthday cake, swirled in frosting and sprinkles, and topped with candles. We’ve done them in every shape and theme – or so we thought, until we ran across these splendid examples of the birthday cake genre. A shark bursting from the water? An outback jeep? A Cat in the Hat hat? A cake crafted entirely from Rice Krispie treats? Heavens.

We thought we’d done pretty well with the King Tut cake for an Indiana Jones themed party (cut a 9×13 sheet cake into a sarcophagus shape, then let your imagination run wild with richly tinted icing), wildly colored fish (purple icing, topped by ring-shaped gummy candies, cut in half for scales), castles, teddy bears and swimming pools. But these? These are awesome. Read on for a round-up of the 10 most spectacular and do-able birthday cake ideas around, including a blow by blow guide to that hilarious shark cake!

FABULOUS CAKE #1: Hosting a pool party? Check out this snorkeler cake from Family Fun Magazine. It’s a cake even a novice cake decorator can handle – a simple 9-inch round cake, hair made from Hersheys’ kisses or small dollops of frosting, the eyeballs a pair of lifesaver candies topped by 2 M&MS, the mouth a snippet of licorice whip, and the snorkle? That part’s real. Easy and spectacular.

FABULOUS CAKE #2: Looking for a Dr. Seuss salute? A Cat in the Hat cake is simple to make – it just takes a lot of batter. Check out the photo here for inspiration. Bake four or more 8- or 9-inch round cakes, using the recipe or cake mix of your choice. Whip up your favorite buttercream frosting and tint half of it bright red using paste food coloring, not the liquid stuff. Now stack the cakes, using icing as the glue to hold it together. You may want to run a chopstick or two down through the middle for added stability, particularly if you’re going to transport the cake. Ice the exterior with alternating stripes of red and white. The woman who made the cake in the picture also used black tinted icing to outline the stripes and make little wrinkles – very cute, but we’ve also seen it done without those embellishments.

FABULOUS CAKE #3: Feeding a crowd? Check out Martha Stewart’s cupcake gallery for ideas, then zero in on this chocolate dipped wonder. The easiest way to decorate cupcakes is by using a pastry bag or even a plastic ziplock bag with a corner snipped off and a large star-shaped frosting tip inserted. Fill the bag with frosting, then pipe a big swirl atop each cupcake. For the chocolate dipped version, Stewart used an almond-flavored icing, chilled it well, then dipped the tops in molten chocolate and chilled it again to harden. It reminds me of those wonderful chocolate dipped soft serve ice creams on the boardwalk.

Yum. Check back tomorrow for birthday cakes #4-6…

These posts are part of the “All About Parenting Birthday Blog Carnival.” Starting this Sunday, that link will take you to a full round-up of amazing birthday party ideas for every age and circumstance, from bloggers all over the Internet.

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