Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Birthday cake and frosting tips

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

We always do homemade birthday cakes at our house. Growing up, we had homemade cakes and I learned how to make them at a young age. I love cake and frosting and it's so fun for me to get to make a special cake for the birthday person! I also like to be treated on my birthday. When Ruth was born, 12 days before my birthday, my mom made my favorite oatmeal spice cake for my birthday that year and brought it over. I like taking the day "off" when it's my birthday. ;)

Now that we have 5 kids of our own (!!), we get to do lots of birthday cakes every year. This week is our 11th wedding anniversary and Joshua and I just made our favorite two-layer chocolate cake for the special day! :)

Now, even though I make cakes, I am no expert. I don't do anything too fancy, and I've had my fair share of cake and frosting disasters. Here are a few things I've learned:

1. Make the cake a day ahead of time. This allows plenty of time for the cake to cool before frosting, and makes the special day much more relaxing when you don't have to get up early to start a cake, or rush around at the last minute getting it finished up! And of course for cheesecakes, they're really top notch at about 24 hours after coming out of the oven.

2. Make the frosting when you're ready to apply it. I have made frosting "ahead" and when I went to spread it, it was stiff and all the light fluffy airy bubbles "stirred down" and the frosting wasn't as good. For best results, I've found it's a good idea to put it on the cake as soon as it's made.

3. Find a good recipe and follow it. This is especially, especially important for the frosting part. Softened butter means softened butter, not half-melted butter or chopped up cold butter.

4. For a perfect frosting, use powdered sugar from the store (and a good recipe). I've tried making homemade powdered sugar for frosting, first in a regular blender (disaster!!) and then in our newly-purchased VitaMix blender. I really thought the powdered sugar from the VitaMix would be fine enough for frosting but still, it made a gritty frosting.

If any of you have made amazingly perfect frosting with homemade powdered sugar, tell me your secret! I can't stand even a hint of grittiness in my frostings...

5. For 2-layer cakes or cake rolls, line the pan(s) with parchment paper or waxed paper to make it easier to remove. I've been using parchment paper (purchased from Costco, of course!) and don't need to grease or flour it.

6. Make an easy 2-layer rectangular cake by using a half sheet pan (13"x18") and cutting the finished cake in half, stacking the halves. Since I don't have many (any) fancy cake pans, this method works great for me.

Any more cake tips? Share with me! :)

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Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Make the most of your frying pan (The Local Cook)
2. Perfectly shaped drop biscuits (Feel Good About Dinner)
3. Using up eggs (Recipes Happen)
4. Peeling garlic quickly (Anne Jisca's Healthy Pursuits)


Yum, those cakes look awesome!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE to bake. I have a weakness for cake pans, plain ones, round ones, molded ones, special shapes. My BEST tip for keeping them from sticking is to use Bakers Joy. I have never had a cake stick when I use it. It doesn't leave your pans sticky like other non stick sprays do and it doesn't leave anything on the cake. Works like magic every time.

Great tips! I have learned many of these things by trial and error, but I make so few cakes that I often forget and repeat my errors! Having it written out like this is helpful.

The tip I would like to share today is how to make drop biscuits look like rolled out biscuits without using a rolling pin. Thanks for sharing!

Thank you so much for share your tips!

Hey Tammy!

My tip this week is about using up eggs! :)


Hi Tammy!

Here's a link to my Kitchen Tip Tuesday post on peeling bulbs of garlic quickly. :)

Mmmm! I want to run my finger through that chocolate frosting!

My favorite way to greae pans is a quick mix I make. Works every time. Mix equal parts flour, oil and Crisco. I don't like using Crisco but I use it for this.

re: your comment about gritty frosting - my friend who makes cakes for a living said to stay away from store brand powdered sugar. Apparently it tends to have more corn starch in it, which leads to grittier frosting. I too have tried homemade powdered sugar. EPIC FAIL! :-) She uses C&W brand exclusively. After trial and error, I have to say she is right - I have tried cheaper (store) brands and C&W, and C&W makes for a much smoother frosting. I'm the queen of frugal, but in this case it's better to pay just a bit more.

When we lived in Ohio and shopped at Aldi, Joshua could always tell a difference between their store-brand powdered sugar and a higher-quality name brand, and strongly disliekd the cheap stuff. :) We have been buying C&H Pure Cane Sugar powdered sugar at Costco and I really like it! (Just another way in which shopping at Costco has spoiled me... I'm used to name-brand stuff now :P )

Joshua had the idea of chilling or freezing the sugar before blending it in the VitaMix to make powdered sugar, so that it could get to a finer texture before getting too hot to blend... I'm not sure if I'll ever try that though. :)

I think we go through about 2 large bags of powdered sugar per year... pretty much only for birthday cakes. I've decided it's much easier to just buy it and have successful frosting when needed! :)

Have you ever tried their all-purpose glue ~ I mean, flour?? TERRIBLE stuff! Although I like Aldi, there are a few things I don't like of theirs: applesauce, chicken, canned fruit (always find shards of pits!) Also, a friend told me their produce is heavily laden with preservatives to keep it fresher longer, more-so than other grocery stores.
How is your husband's health, Tammy? I haven't seen an update for quite a while. I pray all is well again for him.
By the way, I live in Ohio~ but not for long. We're getting transferred out of state. It can't come fast enough! We have lived in the Cincinnati area for three years now ~ filthy, crime-ridden place. I know that much of the middle of the state is gorgeous, though, just not the far north and south!

Oh you're right - C&H! I should have looked at the bag before I typed! :-)

Hi Tammy! Here's my tip:

Paula Deen says to tap your cake on the counter 4-5 times before baking. It does make a huge difference in texture. My Mom said her Mother always did that and she wondered why but never asked. Now we both tap our cake pans.

I had the same problem with powder sugar from the Vita-mix until I purchased their dry container. The dry container does a better job however a cheap coffee grinder does a great job.

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