Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Birthday cakes on a budget

Some how I forgot to post about birthday cakes during our mad week of birthdays last month. Better late than never right?!

Got a birthday for someone coming up? How much do you normally spend on a birthday cake? I've been to some pretty crazy parties (full of goodie bags, huge spreads of food, elaborate store bought cakes, ect) But I find a birthday cake is one place I can cut my budget back on. I don't buy overprices cakes from the grocery store or have them specially made. I make the good old homemade kind.

Every year my kids 'request' a type of cake. This year for Bacon Jr's birthday after much debate he decided on wanting a shark cake. So we got researching. Now I'm no where close to being a baker, but I do like to try to be creative. The first thing we do is head over to our favorite search engine and type in "shark cake' and hit images. Bacon Jr scrolled through several pages of pictures until he found one that we both agreed wouldn't be too hard to make or break the bank. Thankfully the one he picked even came with directions on how to make it! The night before his birthday I got busy baking and decorating his cake. He was excited because he even got to stay up and help out a bit. Here's how it turned out!

Not too bad I think! And what really mattered is what HE thought of it and Bacon Jr couldn't have been happier with his cake. I have to say I didn't go full homemade here. I used a box mix (Shhhh.. I know but it wasn't that expensive at .88 a box!) I did however make my own frosting. The finishing touches were marshmallows, a cookie, grape lifesavers and a red fruit roll-up that we had left over in the house.
If you'd like to make your own shark cake the directions can be found HERE

Homemade white frosting:
1 cup shortening (like crisco)
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond, lemon or orange extract
4.5 cups powdered sugar
3-4 TBSP milk

Mix shortening and extracts in bowl with mixer. Mix in 1/2 of the sugar and 2 tbsp milk. Add in rest of sugar and enough milk to desired consistency.

*This will make quite a bit of frosting. You can make your own colors by adding food coloring drops or paste to the mix.*

For Little boy Bacon's birthday cake he wanted Nemo. He's obsessed with fish right now. So once again we hit the computer to take a look at fish cakes. He found one that I thought I could pull off. It wasn't too bad, a plain 9x13 cake and we used recess's pieces & marshmallows to make nemo. Again I used a box mix and this time a tub of frosting I had in the pantry too. And we splurged on the candy for the top, but even with all that, it was still considerably cheaper than buying a store bought cake. Here's our finished cake.

Ok so no matter what I tried I can get the picture to turn the right way, but you get the point!

Are you not so creative with cakes? It's Ok! Making a homemade cake (even from a mix!) is easy and even a few sprinkles can make it look and taste yummy. Another fun thing to do is have your little one help decorate the cake. They can pick out some fun sprinkles or frosting and help decorate it. Take a picture and each year you have a great snap at your child's creative skills with cake decorating and I'm sure they'll remember how much they loved helping make their special cake. So what are your thoughts? Did I get your creative juices running on how to keep some of that cash in your pockets at the next birthday?

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