Children's birthday parties can oftentimes be a zoo; lessen the stress a little by making a relatively easy birthday cake. Easy does not imply inferior quality. Children prefer basic tastes coupled with bright presentation. For any style or design of children's birthday cake, three principles universally apply: chocolate, vanilla and colours. From these three, anything is possible. Whether completely homemade, or partially homemade, children's birthday cakes can be conquered.
Stick to the basics. Choose a cake flavour that is universally accepted by children. Your choices are vanilla or chocolate. While carrot, rum and coffee infused cake batter may be much more enjoyable for you, remember the cake is for children who often have picky pallets. Boxed cake mixes available at most supermarkets work well for children's birthday cakes, however if you desire a homemade cake, the following cake recipe can be used for either vanilla or chocolate cake, replace and add when indicated for preferred flavour.
Cream the butter in an electric mixer until smooth, add the sugar and mix until fluffy. Add eggs and incorporate well.
In a separate bowl combine dry ingredients (and cocoa powder if making chocolate). Add to the butter mixture alternatively with the milk and vanilla.
Divide batter among greased or lined cake tins (two or three) and bake at 177 degrees Cor 20 to 25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool.
Make the frosting. Children eat first with their eyes and second with their tongues. Therefore, a visually pleasing cake that "pops!" is going to be the biggest hit. Colour is mandatory for a child's cake, either in the frosting or in the decorations. If you choose a white or brown frosting, colour can be incorporated by frosting designs or sprinkles. The following recipe is a classic butter cream (from Martha Stewart) and can be coloured with any powder or liquid food dye (powder is preferable).
In a stand mixer, beat butter at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Beat until incorporated. Add dye (if using) in 1/4 tsp increments until desired colour is reached.
Flavourings such as lemon or raspberry extract can be substituted for the vanilla extract to accompany the colour of the frosting if desired.
Assemble the cake (layered) with the frosting and add sprinkles.The more colours, the bigger their eyes will grow. Rainbow sprinkles are most popular, in either round, heart, or jimmy shapes. The more sprinkles the better.
Add something a little extra to the top of the cake. Personalise the cake to fit the child of celebration: add a small storm trooper figure, or dragons, clowns, dolls, legos, Dora, Strawberry Shortcake or whatever particularly pleases the birthday kid.
Make edible toppers. If you would rather make edible toppers instead of using plastic ones, marzipan, gum paste or fondant can be used to sculpt figures.
Create designs. Designs such as swirls, ribbons, polka dots or flowers can be used instead of cake toppers.
Be creative, but you don't need to be gourmet. Children require basic tastes and vibrant visuals. There are many ways to make birthday cakes for children of various skill levels and ingredients. Though whatever you make for your child, they will love you for it no matter what.