Making Your Own Birthday Cake

Have you ever made your own birthday cake before? How stressful it can be…

Happy birthday to me. Happy birthday to me. What? We all deserve to celebrate our own birthdays and treat ourselves, right? What better way to do that than to make your own birthday cakes, especially if you like baking like I do. I’ve been baking and cooking since I was 9 and always enjoyed baking the most as well as decorating and making art out of food. I always found joy out of it and even did a term in Baking & Pastry in college because I thought I wanted to be a pastry chef. So, I have been making my own birthday cakes and cakes for other birthdays and holidays for many years now. Making a cake is nothing new to me.

Now, with food sensitivities, I pretty much have to make my own cake so I can eat it. I make it with the ingredients I know I can eat instead of going to a bakery and wondering if it’ll be safe or not. I use applesauce instead of oil, 1) because I can’t eat canola oil and 2) because it makes it slightly healthier, yet just as delicious. This year for my birthday, I wanted to make a two-tiered cake for the first time. I wanted to stack cake on top of cake and make one cake for both my dad and I instead of making two seperate cakes and having two cakes all in the same week. I was very excited to make and decorate the cake, yet slightly nervous as I never stacked cake before and had no idea what I was doing. I watched a lot of YouTube videos to prepare and only prayed and hoped that it came out well.

The problem with making your own cake, especially when you’re not an expert, don’t do it on a daily basis, and have no idea what you’re doing, is that you don’t know how the cake will turn out. You don’t know how it will taste, you don’t know if it will bake right and come out “perfect”, you don’t know if it’ll stack okay or if it will tumble over, you don’t know if you’ll be able to finish it on time and have it looking as perfect as you hoped. You just don’t know what the outcome will be and what the final product will come out as. The good thing, however about making your own cake is that it is for yourself, your family, and close friends instead of being for complete strangers and you wouldn’t know if they enjoy it or not. So, if it ends up not looking the best or not tasting as delicious, who cares, you and your family/friends are the only one’s eating and looking at it.

Making cake can be so stressful, especially when you’re not sure what you’re doing. Boy, was I stressed out. Baking the cake was a complete disaster, but luckily it all worked out in the end. The first cake I made was half vanilla half chocolate all cooked in the same pan. Well, the vanilla was done before the chocolate, so the vanilla came out a little dry and the chocolate was crumbly and seperating from the vanilla. The chocolate was in pieces and I stuck it together, piece by piece, with the frosting, but I wasn’t quite happy with how it turned out. I wanted to make another cake, but just one flavor. So, I made a double batch of chocolate, but ended up pouring too much in one of the pans and the cake started overflowing, batter touching the bottom of the oven and burning. I turned the oven off and took the cakes out. One cake looked like it was fully baked, but the other pan was nice and soupy so I threw it away. I went to level the other cake, which had good height, but found out the the middle was still gooey and not baked all the way through so I threw that out too. I’m now on cake attempt number 3. Had to run to the store late at night because I ran out of flour. I didn’t double the batter this time and made sure not to over pour the batter into the cake pans. The cakes came out good, but they were too thin and not high enough. I then decided to put those new cakes on top of the other crumbly cake that I already frosted to make a bigger, higher cake. I then frosted it the best I could and ended up finishing for the night around midnight, the day of the party.

I now had my two cakes all frosted for the next morning, but I still had to get up early to stack and decorate the cakes. I’m now putting buttercream on the cake that I left in the fridge overnight, which was too cold to frost. So, I decided to microwave it to soften it, which made it a lot easier to frost, but then while eating the cake, I found out that it left a butter taste and less of a sugary, buttercream taste. Oops. Luckily that was only on part of the cake, on the top, as I was rushing to finish on time. I ended up finishing the cake around 9 in the morning the day of the party. It didn’t look as nice as I really hoped it would, but I’m happy with how it came out in the end. Luckily I made the fondant characters a couple days before and just had to put them on, although I did struggle a little bit keeping them together.

In the end, the cake looked nice and tasted great besides the little butter flavor on the buttercream on top. I loved how it looked when you cut into it. It had half chocolate on top and half vanilla on the bottom on one side and half chocolate on top with chocolate on the bottom on the other side. The chocolate was a lot more moist than the vanilla, but the vanilla had great flavor. The bottom half had more buttercream in the layers as I layered it and also tasted great, although I wish people got to taste the cherry buttercream in the layers. And the buttercream on the bottom cake didn’t have a butter flavor, but people still enjoyed the flavor and said it tasted good, so I was happy about that.

The cake still came out great both look and taste after the big mess I had and I love how it turned out. I’m now ready and more prepared to make better cakes and keep practicing and improving. It’s funny because I’ve never had a problem with cake before and I felt like I was on “Cake Wars” as everything went wrong the one day it matters and the one day I wanted it to be perfect. I also was running out of time, but felt good about the end product. I had a great birthday, enjoyed my cake and the leftovers, and had so much fun with family and close friends. I’m ready to take what I’ve learned, practice more and make better cakes, with less of a struggle for the next holidays. Even with a mess, I’m ready to try again and improve. The good thing about making my own cakes is that I’m able to eat them with my sensitivities, a little messy or not.