First, they knew Mommy could make a cake in any flavor and it always comes out moist. Secondly, they figured out that mommy can find a way to make any image on a cake, unlike the limited selection at the store. They also think homemade frosting is superior. My son with his Link cake refuses to eat cake when it is bought from a store, he just does not like it. However, when I make a cake at home, he goes back for more.
This last weekend we had birthday parties for two of our sons. One wanted a "Link" cake from Legend of Zelda. The other wanted his usual Lightning McQueen. Wilton makes a cute Disney Cars shaped pan, but I could not find Link anywhere apart from an intricate wedding cake online. So I took an image of Young Link from one of my son's games and tried to create it on the cake via my high tech drawing implement...the toothpick, followed up with an outline by number 3 tip filled with black tinted icing.
While I cannot teach you how to decorate a cake, I can share my recipes with you for making a yummy cake!
Per each cake mix, I add 3 eggs, 1/2 c. oil, 1/2 c. milk (or so), 1 small box of instant pudding (flavor is dependent on the flavor of the cake mix), and about 1 cup of sour cream (you do NOT taste the sour cream, it simply makes it moist). I beat until well blended and pour into a pan that has been brushed (using a pastry brush) with shortening and floured. I bake at 350 degrees until the cake springs back in the center when lightly pressed (longer than the time stated on the box because of the additional ingredients).
I then take dental floss or an instrument designed for cutting the cake and slide it over the top of the pan to take off the excess, so that when I flip the cake over onto its platter...it will lay even. If I want to add a filling, I either measure 1/2 way up the cake with a ruler and place toothpicks every few inches around the cake and then use dental floss to cut the cake with the toothpicks as my guides or again use the designated instrument. You can make so many different fillings, from puddings, jams, or icing. I have to admit that fillings are not necessary when you follow my above cake recipe, as the cake is so flavorful and moist all on its own.
For my decorative frosting recipe I use 1/2 cup of real butter, 1/2 cup of shortening, 1 lb of confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar), 1 Tablespoon of Meringue powder (Wilton makes this), 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1/2 tsp almond extract. Blend well. Then I add some milk until I get the right consistency. Then I beat it on high for several minutes until it becomes light and fluffy! Using some butter gives it better flavor and also using the shortening keeps it from turning the frosting yellow. It still has a nice white color when finished. I love the combination of vanilla and almond extract flavors, much better than just vanilla or lemon flavors in my opinion. The meringue powder makes it fluffier, but also helps the frosting to hold its shape in decorating.
“My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today, I have finished 2 bags of M&M's and a chocolate cake. I feel better already.” Dave Barry