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Birthday Cakes: From Start to Finish

Martha Stewart Baby, Volume 6 2002

Birthday celebrations call for sweetness and joy, and they usually appear in the form of a layer cake generous with frosting and blazing with candles. As a parent, you wouldn't dream of planning a party without a cake, but you might not imagine just how rewarding it is to make one yourself. Like shopping for gifts and wrapping them, making a birthday cake is happy work.

To keep it simple, mix and bake your cakes and prepare your frosting on the first day, and assemble and decorate on the second. If you're shy with a piping bag, practice your technique on parchment paper. The buttercream can be scraped off and used again. You can follow our designs or use your pastry tips and food colors to create your child's favorite images.

Two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans
8-inch cardboard round
Long serrated knife
Rotating turntable
Food colors (we like gel paste colors)
Small offset spatula
Large offset spatula
Bench scraper
Parchment paper
1 3/4-inch round cookie cutter
Plastic piping bags
Pastry tips and couplers

Ateco Pastry Tips
Yellow Cake: No. 48 basket-weave, No. 59 petal, No. 3 plain, No. 233 grass, No. 2 plain, No. 65 small-leaf, No. 30 or No. 35 small-star

Blue Cake: No. 2 plain, No. 100 ruffle, No. 13 star, No. 3 plain, No. 18 open star

Lemon Cake
One-Bowl Chocolate Cake
Swiss-Meringue Buttercream

Basic Cake Assembly
Decorating the Blue Cake

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