Looking to surprise a family member or loved one with their very own homemade birthday cake this year? Well you’ve come to the right place!
No matter what age you’ll be turning this year, you’re never too old to take some serious joy from having a loved one prepare a birthday cake for you right from scratch. Despite being one of life’s most timeless treats, however, setting out to bake a homemade birthday cake can be a pretty ambitious endeavor.
There’s a myriad of things that you’ll need to consider, ranging from the size and shape of the cake, to its flavors, and of course, the decorations that will adorn your finished product.
If you’re a little uncertain of exactly where to start in order to bake the perfect birthday cake, then feel free to follow the little overview we’ve provided below.
Identify your ideal flavor palette
Well before you pull out your stand mixer, you should have a good think about exactly what flavors you’d like your cake to be. Are you looking for a vanilla base with coconut frosting? What about a classic red velvet cake with a subversive twist: some lightly colored cream cheese frosting? Answering these questions may also help you identify any special ingredients that you’ll need to source in order to do your final cake concept justice once you’re all done with your baking process.
For instance, a growing trend amongst avid bakers has been to craft lavender-flavored baked goods, like lavender macarons. Despite being a highly distinguishable scent, lavender as a taste presents itself to be an elusive and delicate flavor palette. Whilst this flavor can be achieved using lavender extract, it will absolutely need a little extra something to make your cake look and taste extra dynamic.
Through much experimentation, bakers have been able to ascertain that the delicate flavor of lavender cake bases is enhanced by the use of zesty cream fillings. Think of flavors like citrus or passionfruit for creating your cream or icing. Achieving this will naturally mean purchasing or preparing some lemon juice beforehand, just to ensure that you’ll have everything that you may need in order to prepare the cream and icing for your cake.
You could also decorate your finished lavender creation using some candied violets to create a cake that’s tinged with pastel purples, lilacs, and adorned with the vibrant royal purple hues of your preserved violet blooms.
Whilst sugared violets can be readily sourced at any dedicated baking good store, you’ll absolutely want to secure these vital ingredients well before you start baking, just to ensure that there are minimal bumps in the road during your baking process.
Mix your batter and prep your cake pans
Once you’ve fully outlined your cake’s intended flavor palette, it’s high time to preheat your oven and get to work on preparing your cake batter. This process won’t be anything out of the ordinary for many seasoned bakers, but it’s what directly proceeds to this phase that you’ll need to look out for: selecting your cake pan.
Your batter should ideally only fill up about half of your cake pan, as your batter will be likely to expand to double its current height during the baking process. If you’ve found that you have a bit too much batter for a single cake pan, it may be worth revisiting your cake’s design plans and preparing a multi-layer cake instead, or perhaps even opt to make multiple cakes rather than a singular birthday cake.
Prep your icing
While your cake is busily baking in the oven, you can get a head start on preparing all the cream and icing that you’ll need to decorate your happy, little creation once it’s finally out of the oven. Give your stand mixer a wash and pat it dry to prepare for all the powdered sugar that you’re about to fill it with.
As we stated earlier, you can choose to be a little playful with your icing or cream filling by adding a little food coloring. If you’re not a fan of artificial food coloring or you’re baking a cake that accommodates individuals with allergies or sensitivities to food additives like artificial colors, then all-natural food colors like concentrated beet juice, turmeric blends, or spinach extracts can work just as well.
Be sure to wait until your cake has cooled down completely before applying any cream or icing. You don’t want your icing to melt or get so sticky that it’s impossible to work with.
Decorate and add final details to your baked creation
Now that your cakes have baked, and your icing and cream fillings are all ready and waiting, it’s finally time to put your cake together. This is perhaps the most exciting part of your whole baking process, but it can be the most nerve-wracking too, simply because one wrong move may result in your cake being mishandled and procuring some unfortunate damage.
You can use a rotating cake stand or ‘cake turntable’ to ensure that your icing is evenly spread, that there are no bumps, and that your cake doesn’t appear lop-sided if you’re working with multiple layers.
If you were able to follow this general overview from start to finish, then chances are you’ve got yourself a fairly perfect cake on your hands! And if you don’t feel that it’s perfect, then never fear because it’s highly likely that your cake’s recipient has never seen a more perfect creation in their life!
Most importantly, at the end of this process, you’ll realize just how heartfelt presenting somebody with their very own homemade birthday cake can be. Any birthday accompanied by a homemade cake made with love is guaranteed to be a birthday that they will never forget.