Creative Birthday Cakes


“Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you! Happy birthday, dear …” The familiar song signals another happy day for someone you care for. One way to make that birthday special is to make a creative, colorful cake for the occasion!

Whether you’re honoring a family member, friend, sweetheart, or boss, these creative cakes can add to the fun:

Balloon Cake. A cake decorated with colorful candy balloons will brighten a birthday for adults and children alike. Use 15 to 20 flat fruit gumdrops and red and black string licorice to decorate your frosted birthday cake. Cut the sugary tops off the gumdrops to show the color more vividly. Place the bottom part of the gumdrops randomly on the frosted top and sides of the cake. Arrange a short strand of licorice as a “string” for each candy balloon. Add a little pizzazz to the cake by attaching strings of helium-filled balloons around the cake. You may want to bake a bundt-shaped or angel food cake and anchor strings of balloons in the center hole of the cake.

Cupcake Birthday Numbers. Cupcakes are a convenient way to celebrate a birthday at school or work. Make them more festive by placing them side by side on a tray or a table to form the number of the honored person’s age. Place a candle on each cupcake; then light them. Candleholder hint: Lifesavers make handy holders for birthday candles on cakes and cupcakes. They cost less money and catch wax drippings better than plastic holders do. They also add a touch of color to the cake, and guests can peel the wax off and eat the Lifesavers when the celebration has ended.

Flower Pot Ice Cream “Cake.” Use this tasty flower pot “cake” to celebrate a spring birthday or add a touch of spring to a winter party. You will need a large flower pot, chocolate ice cream to fill the pot, crushed chocolate wafer cookies, a dowel, foil, poster board, and marking pens to create this cake.

Line the flower pot with a large piece of foil to keep the ice cream clean and to keep it from running out the bottom of the pot. Spoon softened ice cream into the pot. Sprinkle crushed cookies over the top of the ice cream. Freeze until hard.

Draw a large flower on the poster board; then cut it out. After writing an appropriate birthday message on the flower with marking pens, attach the flower to the dowel and insert the dowel upright into the ice cream when you are ready to serve.

Stencil Cake Decorating. Personalize a birthday cake by drawing something appropriate on the cake—a football, car, ballerina, or musical note, for instance. Use a stencil to trace the object onto the cake. To make the stencil, draw a silhouette of the object on a piece of waxed cardboard (from a frozen dinner carton, for instance). Cut the shape from the cardboard with scissors. Frost the cake and let it stand until the frosting sets (one to two hours). Lay the stencil, waxed side down, on the frosted cake. Spread frosting of a contrasting color over the edges of the stencil and the cake, starting at the top of the stencil, then working to the bottom. Lift the stencil from the cake. The contrasting layer of frosting will form a silhouette on top of the cake. You may also want to pipe on features and details.

Snowball Centipede. This sweet centipede communicates birthday greetings on a handy, easy-to-make birthday “cake.” Arrange snowball cupcakes to form a long, snaky body. Attach bent two-inch pipe cleaners to both sides of each body piece to form legs. Add gumdrop eyes and shoestring licorice mouth and antennae to complete your centipede.

Low-calorie variations: Use tomatoes or small cream puffs stuffed with meat sandwich filling as the body. Then add olive slice eyes, pimiento mouth, and pipe cleaner legs and antennae.

Instant Doughnut Cake. When you don’t have time to bake a cake, doughnuts can provide an instant, tasty alternative. You will need 18 doughnuts, six tapered candles and a plate. Stack doughnuts in groups of three and put one stack in the center of the plate. Arrange additional stacks around the center stack. Place a long tapered candle in the center of each stack. You may want to use this doughnut cake for your centerpiece and let the candles burn during your special dinner.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Bryan Lee Shaw