Whenever I make big cakes, I made the cake a day or two ahead of time, and then freeze them until the day of. My mom worked at a restaurant in college and learned this tip. It makes the cake super moist, allows half of the work to be done ahead of time, and makes frosting it much easier. As long as it has a few hours after frosting before you plan on eating it, it defrosts perfectly. The cake came out of the pans so easily, which is always nice. I've definitely had times in the past where I was gluing a cake together with frosting. :-/
I made buttercream frosting, which is as simple as it is delicious. Softened butter(1 cup)+powdered sugar(I used between 4 and 5 cups). A little vanilla, and splashes of milk until the consistency is how you like. I ended up making two batches for my 10x10, double layer cake, and around 40 mini cupcakes.
I'm a big fan of starting with a "crumb coat", aka an initial layer of frosting to smooth things out without worrying too much about appearances.
It's important to a certain extent that the final layer be smooth, but I try to keep in mind that when it goes into someones mouth, they're definitely not thinking about how smooth it is.
To make the cake pretty, I decided on lavender polka dots. I used a tiny bit of purple icing dye (an awesome gift from my best friend Diane) to tint some of my frosting the color I wanted.
I've never done a polka dot cake, but I figured I needed a frosting tip, so I bought two to try out.
When the cake was finished, I had yet another challenge. It needed to be transported an hour and a half to my Aunt Kathy's house, where the party was. Luckily Will and I hoard boxes from things we buy, so a printer box complete with Styrofoam stabilizers kept it perfectly still the whole drive there.
After a delicious lunch, we all gathered around to light the cake and sing happy birthday. I realized immediately what makes a birthday cake different than other baked goods.
What else do you bake that you get to put colorful candles into?
What else do you bake that that your family gathers around and cheers?
What else do you bake that requires everyone to stop, watch, and be reminded of just how special the guest of honor is?
What else looks just as good (if not better) all sliced up and enjoyed as it does fresh and new?
Happy birthday to an absolute inspiration. Looking forward to birthday cake number 98 :-)