Birthday Cakes throughout the Years

I am NOT a cake decorator. Both my mother and my mother in law have studied cake decorating and made beautiful cakes over the years. My mil worked for a caterer for several years and is an extremely talented baker. She made our wedding cake – I should say cakes since there were NINE of them in all (each a different flavor, of course) – and did a fabulous (and delicious) job.

wedding cake

This picture doesn’t do the cakes justice as they were gorgeous. Mom E., I STILL like the dark green leaves!

With this much raw skill in the family, it’s a shame that I am such a poor cake decorator myself. One time my mother in law came and presented a cake decorating class for my Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group. Where was I? Working in the Moppets department. I missed the entire thing. Sigh.

david 1 year old

David’s one year old birthday cake. That year everyone got their own little, individual cakes.

messy eater 1

messy eater 2

A neat and tidy eater that made us all proud. “Somebody get me a washcloth and hurry!”

When it comes to birthday cakes I try to outsource this job as often as possible. With five children, however, this can get quite expensive. Thankfully my children’s grandmother is as kind and generous as she is talented and we’ve received some beautiful birthday cakes over the years. Last year she even made Tim’s birthday cake. I know some people would be upset that their mother in law made their husband’s cake (boundary issues and all of that) but I was more than thrilled. She makes the BEST Black Forest cake that is truly Tim’s favorite cake ever. What a great birthday present!

two year old david

Age 2 – David obviously remembers the chocolate cake fiasco from last year’s birthday party and is a bit wary. Where is that washcloth?

daniel helps david 2

Thankfully Daniel is right there to help.

There are times, however, when a girl needs to step up to the plate (so to speak) and make the birthday cake for her own child. Or at least find a decent cake at the grocery store – whatever it takes. Today was one of those days!

david is 3

I don’t know what to say here. Looks like a panCAKE to me. He’s one excited three year old.

blow it out 3

Whew, I wasn’t sure he’d be able to actually blow this one out. Good job, little guy.

Rachel, Daniel, Sarah and I set out for the store to buy the perfect cake for David. Hmmm. We came up with less than spectacular options. The cakes were either totally bland looking (not much to excite a 6 year old there) or expensive (you want HOW much for some flour, sugar and eggs?). There were some impressive cakes in the display book but, um, that doesn’t really work when you’re a ‘last minute’ kind of mother. You have to plan ahead if you’re going to get something fancy like that. Also, I’m sure those are way too expensive (boy, that is some NICE colored frosting there – how much did that cost me?).

david is four

David is four! Oreos and licorice cover a multitude of inadequacies in the cake decorating department.

daniel david 4

Notice Daniel is, once again, right there to “help” when needed.

In a fit of “I can DO IT Myself-itis” I rejected all the cakes behind the counter and led the children to the baking supplies aisle. There are certain people who should never say “I can do this better/just as cheaply/prettier/fill in blank” – at least not without a laugh track playing in the background. I am normally not this optimistic (or cheap) but something about those plastic looking cakes filled me with a renewed sense of baking confidence. No doubt it was all the high fructose corn syrup in the air – addles the brain.

race car cake

race car 2

David is 5!! He had a race car birthday party complete with a race track birthday cake. Note the excessive sprinkles and crumbled Oreos that cover most of the cake.

Armed with a cake mix, a can of frosting, a box of pudding, a tube of decorator icing, and a fancy candle (and this is home-made how??) we set out to make David a birthday cake worthy of his lofty six years.

A friend from my homeschooling e-mail loop shared a cake recipe from the Confessions of a Pioneer Woman website. The entry is called the best chocolate cake ever and she includes beautiful, crisp pictures of each step of the recipe. She is obviously a talented photographer as well as a witty writer. I haven’t tried out her recipe but it looks divine.

I was inspired by her descriptive blog and decided to copy her technique. [As if this blog wasn't long enough already.]

This is the creation of David’s birthday cake for 2007.

The humble ingredients.


The first cake, top cut off to create a level surface, ready for filling.

first cake

The chocolate pudding filling with a little cookie help to give it some added crunch (and up the chocolate factor).

pudding oncookiespudding

The top layer is on.

top layer is on

The frosting choice of the day.


And on it goes.

frosting on

Almost done – starting to look pretty.

getting pretty

Now for some real decorating – how easy can you get? No bags to mess with. Just change the frosting tip (included with the can) and off you go. Ah, this is the life.

blue icing

My attempt at “stars.”


Add a little writing and we’re almost there. Thank you, Betty Crocker.

david's cake top

Add some candles, a little bit of red, white and blue sprinkles and we are all set.

cake is done

Everyone gave this cake a big thumbs up rating. David left one bite on his plate and told us all he didn’t want to eat too much, as he was going to “try and be healthy.” Good job, Buddy! Way to be healthy. We won’t count the samples, the spoon from the cake batter, the ‘practice’ cookie with pudding, and the frosting spatula that found its way into your mouth.

Happy Birthday, David!

Being a true son of his mother, David has been more than happy to extend his birthday from Friday on through the weekend. He called it his birthday all day today; after all, we hadn’t had the cake yet and cake equals party in his mind. He even managed to finagle permission to sleep on the floor from his father (“since it’s my birthday, Daddy.”). He’s obviously learned from the best about stretching celebrations out. Lol!


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8 thoughts on “Birthday Cakes throughout the Years”

  1. Hmmmph. Only 25 pictures … you call that a blog? :)

    Happy Birthday, David. He is a well-loved boy, and has had some pretty good years so far. It is strange to notice (looking at furniture placement and doing some mental arithmetic) that we have lived in our current home now for three of his six birthdays … almost half his life, depending on how you count it.

    Born in a country hospital during a snowstorm, and only two weeks old at the time of the famous 6.8 Nisqually Earthquake, David’s life seemed off to a rocky start. I thought he would be a ‘Raised in the Duckabush’ kind of boy, but here he is, a sophisticated man of the suburbs, a skilled swimmer and bike rider and well-taught by the children’s BSF program.

    A true son of his mother indeed, I think he’ll keep trying to play the “Well, after all, it is my birthday … ” card for another week or so.

  2. Kathy,

    That was a hysterical entry!

    I think his cake was lovely and I bet he thought so too!

    And Tim, being ‘raised in the Duckabush’ sounds way better than being raised By a Dushabush. (Pardon?)


  3. LOL – great job. Frankly…my cakes well….they never look nearly as nice as David’s. I’m impressed.

  4. Yes, Dorothy, we wouldn’t want Duckabushes raising the children. They are a feisty and volatile breed (or half-breed) prone to trouble.

    I think Duckabush is just plain fun to say. It’s also great to tell someone over the phone. “How do you spell that, Ma’am?” “Well, just like it sounds – duck a bush.” “Yes, but how do you spell it?”

    The Duckabush is a small valley in Washington – barely makes it on the map but it does have a great name full of character!

  5. Yes, De’Etta, but you have the famous (or infamous) Birthday Pig Hat. Really who can top that??? My sister in law gave us a birthday hat (not as unique as yours but it’s up there) for my birthday this past summer and I KEEP forgetting to pull it out for our birthdays. I will need to remember for Daniel’s B-day in April. How do you create a tradition if you don’t ever start???

  6. We have a saying in our house: “Once is an event, twice is a tradition.” This is because my wife loves traditions of all shapes and kinds. I’ve lost of the times she has looked at me with an innocent, wistful look, and said: “But of course we are [doing that, going to that party, attending that event, celebrating that occasion] … it is a tradition!

    In Kathy’s book, if she can manage to organize our family to do something twice, it has become a full-fledged tradition, with an unassailable position in the Hall of Traditions (a rather crowded virtual Hall).

    While I hesitate to create an Orwellian Ministry of Truth monster, one rather devious way to create a tradition would be to stage photos of the supposed event and insert them into the blog, back-dating them so it appeared as though they had happened over the years. Our boys have looked enough alike as toddlers that you could almost pull it off without hiring actors or spending a lot of time in Photoshop.

    Great. Now that I’ve made this comment, I’ll have to spend part of every day scanning the blog archives for rogue and spurious traditions. :)

  7. I LOVED this blog entry! What a hoot! Hmmm… I think I need to start a Memory Lane category on my blog as I go through some of our old pictures while getting ready for our oldest dd’s graduation

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