I love to decorate cakes, but I rarely have occasions or time, so I only really get to indulge when my kids' birthdays come around. And as evidenced by Lincoln's car cake and monster truck cake, I take full advantage. So it's no surprise that I've been brainstorming for my baby's 1st birthday cake for about 3 months prior to the actual event at the end of August. But it finally got here, and here's my story about Mason's first birthday cake.
For the first birthday my kids haven't really had a preference for a theme (obviously), so I had free reign across the board. I'm a huge fan of cupcakes for the first birthday, so that narrowed the scope considerably. I considered a fish, a simple number, or balloon cupcakes (which I did for Lincoln's first birthday), but in the end I went with the one that kind of made me gasp: The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
And I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. Due to several lessons learned, it didn't turn out the way I had been picturing, so it took me a little while to shift gears and admit that it wasn't actually a hot mess. Does anyone else do that?
The cake consists of green cupcakes (I used mini cupcakes), and a slightly bigger head that is red. I think you could do this really simply, but I wanted to experiment with some techniques.
Because of my 32 by Thirty-Two goal (#27 - try a new frosting recipe), I tried a new cream cheese frosting recipe rather than going with my tried-and-true buttercream recipe. It tasted delicious, but it definitely didn't hold the shape like buttercream would have (to be fair to the recipe, I may or may not have completely ignored her two big tips). This was my number one complaint with the cake and the source of the "hot mess" evaluation. But once I let go of the goal image of nice stiff frosting, I could admit that the softer result doesn't actually look all that bad.
I also tried to use several shades of green but with the cream cheese frosting they all blended together a lot more than I had intended.
The red head is covered with modeling chocolate. I used the directions provided here, and it worked like a charm. Though while I was kneading in all that red food coloring, I was wondering if I could have just added it when I melted the chocolate? I still don't know the answer to that question.
Alternative Baking Pans
The cake base for the head is just a white cake I baked in a (clean) canned chicken can. It was the perfect size (and free!). I lined it with parchment paper and used cooking spray for good measure, and it popped right out. This is a technique I learned at my mother's knee. She used to make teddy bear cakes for baby showers, and she would use different sizes of cans for the hands, feet, and ears.
Melting and Piping Chocolate
The green eyes, antennae, nose, and feet are all piped chocolate. The technique is actually pretty simple, and I'd been wanting to try it for a while now. I used white chocolate with green food coloring for the eyes. To get the yellow around the green in the eyes, I piped a circle of yellow frosting and then just pressed the green chocolate circles in until I had the desired amount of yellow showing. I used Dove dark chocolate for everything else. (side note: This is dangerous because after you've finished piping, you can literally just drink the rest of the chocolate. It took serious willpower not to do just that.)
It was a fun birthday cake to decorate, and I'll definitely be using
some of those techniques again. Thanks for reading!