Rainbow Birthday Cake


*Note:  I started this post back in June, but then decided to take the summer off, so I will now finish this post and will start posting more regularly again.

I really wish I had a better picture of this cake, but we were so busy with all the birthday party preps that I really didn’t get a chance to do too much photography!  I didn’t know how the stars on top were going to hold up, so I just added them a few minutes before the party started (I literally put the last one in moments before the first guest arrived).  As it turns out I could have easily done them first thing in the morning and they would have been just fine.

This is the inside of our beautiful rainbow cake.

I also didn’t take any photos of the process, so I don’t have a great tutorial, but I will share my recipes and a few tips I learned along the way.

I’m fairly new to fondant covered cakes (this one is my third), and I found out the hard way that not all cakes are a good choice for covering with fondant.  My first one ended up being a little saggy around the middle… So, when I went to make my second one, I looked for a more dense cake.  I was doing a lady bug cake for my daughter, so I also needed something that was going to hold up as a dome and could possibly be sculpted.  I turned to google and came up with this recipe:  http://allrecipes.com/recipe/whipping-cream-pound-cake-2/

Not only is it sturdy and forgiving to work with, it is also delicious!

I didn’t really think out my plan before I dove into making this cake.  I knew that I had three round 8″ pans, so I knew I would have to do two rounds to make the 6 coloured layers that I wanted.  I mixed up the cake recipe (just a single recipe, which proved to be a mistake) and greased and floured my three pans.  With the idea to save myself a few dirty dishes, I decided to pour half the batter evenly between my three pans and then colour the batter once they were in the pans (mistake #2).  The problem is that once the batter was in the pans I realized I couldn’t really mix very well because I didn’t want to mess up my grease/flouring job…  These were my red, orange and yellow cakes.  As you can see from the picture they actually turned out alright, but I still wouldn’t recommend this method.  Too stressful!  So for my next three cakes I poured the remaining half of my batter evenly into three bowls.  I then added the blue green and purple colouring.  This is where I started to run out of batter.  No matter how good you are with a spatula,  you’re going to leave some batter in the bowls and some on the spatula.  This is why my top three layers are considerably more thin than my bottom three.  Oh well, none of the five year olds at the party complained 😉

I baked the cakes three at a time for about 10 minutes (first batch a little longer, second batch a little shorter).  I let them cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning them out onto my wire cooling rack.  I let the pans cool completely before re-greasing and flouring for round two.

I’m not going to go through all the details of assembling and decorating the cake.  There are tons of other tutorials that are great and have lots of pictures or good videos.

I will say that I wasn’t sure how well the fondant stars and the fondant 5 would hold up, but they did just fine.  I rolled the fondant quite thick for cutting those shapes.  I then inserted florist’s wire into each of the cutouts.  I let them harden over night and then inserted them into the cake.  I wrapped the ends in aluminum foil, as the wire I used wasn’t food grade and I didn’t know if it had some coating on it that might leach into my cake.

All in all I was very pleased with how the cake turned out.  Danny helped me with every stage (including decorating) and we had a really great time with this project.

Army of Goodness – more or less

I love to bake and I much prefer to feed my kids homemade snacks than anything store bought and stuffed with preservatives, so I’m always on the look out for muffin and cookie recipes that have redeeming ingredients like oatmeal, wheat germ, fruits and veggies.  This recipe is one that I pulled from a Canadian Living magazine about 10 years ago and has been a staple in my household ever since.  It has several redeeming ingredients including whole wheat flour, oatmeal, banana and berries.  I call them my “left-over” muffins because I vary the yogourt flavour and fruit depending on what I have left over in my fridge and freezer.   I used to always make full sized muffins, but I find with kids its great to have mini muffins on hand.  Often they will eat 2 or 3, which is the equivalent of a full sized muffin, but for the rest of the time is saves half the muffing going straight into the compost bucket.

Canadian Living has a good website with a ton of great recipes, but I haven’t found this one on-line, so I will provide it here.

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup french vanilla yogourt
  • 1/2 cup mashed banana
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  1. in bowl, whisk together sugar, yogourt, banana, oil and egg; stir in rolled oats.  Let stand for 10 minutes
  2. In large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.  Pour yogourt mixture overtop; sprinkle with blueberries and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.
  3. Spoon into paper-lined muffin cups.
  4. Bake in centre of 375°F oven until tops are firm to touch, 20-25 minutes for full-sized muffins, 15-18 for mini-muffins.
  5. Remove from pan; let cool on rack.

Tunnel of Fudge Cake

If you have a chocolate lover in your house (as I do!) this cake is a must try.  I stumbled across it in a Best of the Bake-Off Pillsbury cookbook a few years ago.  I made it for my husband’s birthday and he has requested it for every birthday since.  You can find the recipe on the Pillsbury website.  Here is how mine turned out this year:

I also found a cupcake version of this recipe on the net a few years ago.  I can’t find the original site anymore, so I’ll post the recipe here.

Chocolate Fudge Walnut Cupcakes

Preparation:
* 4 (1 ounce) squares semisweet chocolate, chopped
* 1 cup butter
* 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
* 1 3/4 cups white sugar
* 4 eggs
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 2 cups chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners. In the top of a double boiler, combine chocolate and butter. Heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture is melted and smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool to lukewarm.
2. Sift flour and sugar together into a large bowl. With mixer on low speed, beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in chocolate mixture, vanilla and pecans. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.
3. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. Do not overbake. Tops should be shiny but give slightly when touched.

Easter Cookies

Okay, so here I go with my first real post.  I will warn you right now that this particular activity is not for the faint of heart.  There are several different parts to this that are each fairly time consuming, but the kiddos can help with all of it and it can be lots of fun to do this over a few days.  Also, I did this a few days ago without this blog in mind, so I didn’t take as many pictures of the process as I should have.  Sorry!  Here is a preview of the finished product: Butterly Cookie

Step 1:  Make the cookie dough.  To make the cookies you can use any recipe you like for rolled and cut cookies.  My kids love the one from the Family Fun web site. If you use that recipe, omit the food colouring.  I used a fun set of spring cookie cutters including bunnies, a butterfly, a chick, an Easter egg and a cute umbrella.  The kids and I made the batter on Friday and left it in the fridge overnight.  On Saturday the dough was too stiff to work, so I had to leave it on the counter for about an hour to soften up.

Buttercream Icing

Buttercream Icing

Step 2:  Make the icing.  Again, you can use any icing that your family likes.  This time I used the Wilton buttercream recipe, but I think a nice cream cheese icing would taste really great as well.  We made the icing while we waited for the cookie dough to soften.  The kids helped me make one batch of icing and separate it into five smaller portions.  Then we used Wilton colours to make five different colours of icing.  The kids found this part particularly fun 🙂  All the colours turned out well except for Delphinium Blue, which is the grey mush up in the top right corner.  Maybe if I had added more colouring it would have come out more blue, but as it stands it looks pretty yucky!

cookie decorations

cookie decorations

Step 3:  Decorate!  My kids are 2 and 4, so I spread the icing for them.  My 4 year old tried to do his first one by himself, but ended up breaking the cookie.  I took over to save some frustration.  Then they added on the decorations of their choosing.  I gave them each four small bowls of different decorations that I had purchased at the bulk barn.

Step 4:  Enjoy 🙂  The best part is eating the cookies.  I was amazed that my 4 year old diligently decorated six cookies before sampling, but was not surprised that my 2 year old was sampling the candy before she got any onto her first cookie.  All in all a tasty and fun activity that uses up a lot of time for kids who are excited that Easter is coming.