Your grandmother may have learned how to make a birthday cake from scratch, but today we have the convenience of the boxed cake mix. Cake mixes come in a variety of flavors that will satisfy anyone and they taste good. Decorating the cake is easy simply by using candy and sprinkles.
Lightly grease the bottoms and sides of the pan with shortening, oil or butter. Use a pastry brush, piece of wax paper or clean fingers to get in the crease of the pan. After greasing, place about 2 tablespoons of flour in the pan and swish it around the bottom and up the side and discard extra flour left in the bottom of the pan. This will give the cake ultimate protection from sticking. Tip: Use cocoa powder instead of flour for chocolate cakes.
Preheat the oven to the proper temperature before putting the cake in the oven to ensure constant heat all through the baking process. Place pans in the center of the oven and set the timer for the required minutes. When the timer goes off, check the cake to see if it is done. If a sharp knife or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, the cake is done. If it comes out gooey, the cake needs more time.
Remove the cake from the oven to a wire rack and cool. Round cakes should be removed from the pan by inverting onto a wire rack. Go around the edge of the cake pan with a knife before inverting after it has cooled about 10 minutes. Cool the cake completely before frosting.
Frost the top of a rectangular cake right in the pan. If using rounds, place one round on a cake dish and use about ½ cup of frosting on top. This will be the layer filling. Use a flat metal spatula to spread frosting and then put the other layer on top. Frost the sides of the cake next and finally do the top. If the frosting seems a little rough, dip the spatula in a glass of water, shake off the excess and continue to frost. This will smooth the frosting out.
Use M & M candies to decorate the cake. They push into the frosting and stay in place. Licorice whips are perfect for outlining a shape. Place a cookie cutter on the surface of the cake and sprinkle colored sugar or sprinkles inside. Lift off and you have a decoration. Gumdrops make excellent decoration as do individual candy bars. Sprinkles and edible glitter make for great decorations. Purchase royal icing decorations that work like stickers. They are hard, yet edible, and are peeled off and placed on the cake. Don’t forget candles.
Now that you know how to make a birthday cake the easy way, you will rarely go to a bakery for a cake again. It is very rewarding knowing that you made your loved one’s birthday cake and they will appreciate it too.