Elora’s Spring Flowers Birthday Cake

Last December, we celebrated Elora’s 5th birthday in Los Angeles, so while this springtime cake may not seem like an obvious choice for a winter birthday, it was actually perfect. 😉

easter dessertsThis Jelly Belly Flower Cake from the always fabulous Glorious Treats has been in my mind since I saw it, and Elora loved it to too, so that’s what I planned. I ordered the Jewel Collection Jelly Bellies before we left for California, and also packed my trusty cake turntable, angled spatula, and Wilton gel colors (they add color without watering down the frosting, which regular food coloring tends to do). (Thank goodness for free checked bags!)

easter desserts

My secret to making very decorative cakes a do-able endeavor is to — gasp! — use a cake mix. Honestly, no one’s paying that much attention to the cake itself, and if they were, cake mixes are tasty, and if nothing else, predictable in terms of texture, etc.

easter desserts

easter dessertsI will say that slicing over half a pound of tiny Jelly Bellies was a labor of love. Dear helped, and when we ended up with more Jelly Belly flowers than absolutely necessary, I simply slapped more flowers on the cake. Why not, right?

easter desserts easter desserts easter desserts

We all enjoyed it, and, most importantly, my little birthday girl was celebrated with the cake she’d anticipated and talked about for so long.

easter desserts

easter desserts easter desserts

easter desserts easter desserts easter desserts

Hop on over to Glorious Treats for full instructions.

Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate. 

8 Gorgeous Cake Stands Under $40

cake stands We have certain family traditions, which happened unwittingly, involving cakes. I always make this one for Dear for our anniversary, and this one for @JHCre8tive for her birthday. The kids get special cakes for their birthdays, like this, this, and this one. Maybe making cakes is one of the love languages I speak. Anyway, I do have a cake stand, but I’m not… inspired by it. Here are some beautiful ones I’d love even more to put a cake atop.

1. Gracie China, Victorian Rose Collection, 8-Inch Skirted Cake Stand, White Fine Porcelain, $17.50.
2. Loire Glass Square Cake Stand – Blue, $22.22.
3. Antique Silver Beaded Small Cake Stand, $34.99.
4. Savoie Glass Round Cake Stand, Green, $27.78.
5. Flowerburst Green Glass Cake Stand 12-inch ~ Beautiful Footed Party Centerpiece Dessert Serving Dish, $19.99.
6. Cake Boss Novelty Serveware Cake Stand, 12-Inch “Icing”, $34.99.
7. White Scalloped Cake Plate, $11.96.
8. 10″FTD PLATE BOXED PINK, $13.18.

Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate.

Lego Birthday for Danny Boy

We celebrated Danny’s birthday (a couple months ago) with a lego birthday cake that featured two of his favorite things: legos… and something special hidden inside.

cake decorated with legos

I decorated with primary yellow, red, green, and blue to echo the colors of the legos and M&Ms. I’ve always wanted to make one of these garlands and it was so easy and I loved them!

Just use a paper cutter in the shape you desire and then get your sewing machine humming. Feed the paper shapes through, leaving some “empty” thread running in between the paper pieces. I found it easier to do several strands of garland, rather than one longer strand, which can get very tangled, very quickly.

The paper globes were also super quick and easy. You just cut strips, punch holes in the ends and secure with brads. Pull the strips apart and around and somehow you get these balls. I still cannot quite wrap my mind around how that works, but they sure are fun!

birthday decorations -- circle garland and paper globes

I used paper scraps left over from punching the circles under the plates, and they conveniently looked lego-y, yay!

lego birthday cake-5

lego birthday cake-6

For the cake, I used a box mix, cut two round cakes in half  for a total of four layers, and layered cake, raspberry jelly, cake, frosting, cake, frosting, cake. I used cream cheese frosting, which I smoothed out a bit by pressing gently with paper towels after the frosting had “crusted” a bit in the fridge.

When the cake was sufficiently chilled, I gently pressed the lego pieces into the cake and added a little tractor toy and a lego man.

lego birthday cake

The surprise of the cake (often called a pinata cake) was the avalanche of mini M&Ms that poured out when we cut into the cake! To make the hole in the center for the M&Ms (or whatever you’d want to put in there, you just cut a hole out of the three bottom cake layers before you stack them and then fill up the hole with the treats before you top with the final cake layer and frost. A lot less complicated than it seems.

pinata cake filled with m and m's

slice of pinata cake

lego birthday party birthday boyOhhh, look at his still-baby cherub cheeks and perky little nose… 

boy looking at pinata birthday cake

Three, as I suspected, is the perfect age for wonderment at such a spectacle. :)

lego birthday cake with familyAnd that made Mommy happy.

The Last Carrot Cake You’ll Ever Make

piece of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

I’ve made this carrot cake many times since the early days of our marriage. From the first time my father-in-law had it, he requested it for every family gathering for which he could reasonably offer input.

carrot cake ingredients

(I was somehow the designated dessert-bringer of family gatherings when we were first married, which was fine. But someone else always brought ice cream. Combithses have a serious predilection for ice cream, like it’s impossible to have a get-together — let alone dessert — without it. Once, I was going to bring a chocolate hazelnut mousse of some sort to a family function and I started to tear up when I heard the ice cream-bringers were excited about bringing key lime ice cream. I told Daniel, “Why do they ask me to bring dessert if they are just going to eat whatever ice cream on top of it? It doesn’t go together! What’s the point!??” Not my finest moment. I’m relieved to report that I have since gained some perspective. Having children probably helped. ;))

carrots in food processor

This carrot cake isn’t a beautiful one you’d make as a centerpiece for a special celebration. It’s homey, it’s comfortable, its the kind you plop on the center of the table and pass around and dig into while you enjoy the warmth of conversation with visiting loved ones (which we did twice this weekend, both around this carrot cake, which I made because Dear came home from the store with a five-pound bag of carrots “in case I needed them for something” and I love him and I took the hint). It’s soul food at its best.

carrot cake before oven and fresh out of the oven

Though the cake tastes like it must have some complex interplay of spices, it only calls for cinnamon. Using a food processor makes shredding the carrots a snap. You have no excuse but to throw it together. Right. Now. Here’s how:

Carrot Cake

Adapted from the Joy of Cooking

Ingredients and Directions

Mix the following:

1 cup flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

In a separate bowl, mix:

2/3 cup vegetable oil

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, beaten

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mixing just enough to incorporate.

Add:

1 1/2 cups grated carrots (you can’t go wrong with more)

1/2 cup pecans or walnuts

Pour into 8×8 pan or reasonable equivalent. Bake at 350 until toothpick poked in center comes out mostly clean; start checking at about half an hour. Let cool for as long as you can tolerate and slather with cream cheese frosting.

carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

 

Let me know how much you love it.