Baby’s first birthday cake

Pictures of a football, baseball, soccer ball and basketball bordered the invitation to the baby’s first birthday party. My daughter told me she planned to frost cupcakes and decorate them to look balls. She planned a simple party with family, the older couple next door who enjoy the baby and a couple friends.

Then, at a yard sale, I saw a Wilton cake pan shaped like a little boy holding a baseball bat. I had to have it … long enough to hand it to my daughter and say, “you don’t have to make this  cake, I just could not resist this pan when I saw it. Isn’t it cute? … but really, you don’t have to do it. If you want, we can take it home and decorate it for you …Well your dad can, he is the one with the artistic bent in the family.”

“No, no. It is cute. I will do it,” she bravely took the pan. “This will only take about half a cake mix, right?”
“Oh, no, I think it takes a whole cake mix. You would not have to do the dots of frosting, you could probably just spread colored icing over the different sections. And then use that colored frosting in a squeeze can to finish outlining them,” I said as I went out the door.

Two days before the party she made cupcakes and then mixed up a box of cake mix, baked it in the cake pan and eased it out of the mold onto a board to decorate before she realized she needed to cut off the bubble of cake in the middle to make it lay flat.

“I turned it back into the pan and it broke. I was so angry,” she told me. “It had already been a long day. I saw how stressful it would be to decorate the cake. I exploded in anger and chopped it up with a knife, opened the back door and threw it bit by bit outside. I threw the pan out and then I cooled down. Jacob (her husband) watched with horror. He could not believe I would do that to the cake  that I had just baked.”

The next day she tried it again with two cakes mixes and put it in the oven to bake. The cake rose and overflowed the pan. She put a pan under it to catch the falling batter. Other than the mess in the oven the second attempt went without a hitch. She cut the top flat, turned it upside down onto the board, let the cake cool overnight and began decorating it the morning of the party.

First, she outlined the cake pan imprints. “I had it mostly finished when I realized it would not taste good, so I carefully wiped off the jell and put on a layer frosting that I planned to outline with the jell pens,” she told me.
That worked fine until the heat in the kitchen made the frosting sag out of place.

“I used my handy-dandy five digit icing spreader,” she said and assured me, “I had washed my hands – and smoothed it out. I let it cool a bit in the refrigerator and decorated it a bit more until it started to run again. I let it cool and finally outlined the blue shirt with darker blue jell frosting, outlined the mouth on the pink frosted face with red, the eyes with blue and the chocolate covered bat.”

I was there and decorating cupcakes to look like basketballs when she shook up coconut with green food coloring to finish the cake by make a playing field around it.

Everyone said it looked and tasted good. Some people thought it looked like a football player, some said it looked like a baseball player. At least everyone knew it was a little boy playing ball – and it only cost her the price of three cakes mixes, four tubs of frosting, two packages of jell frosting pens and two days of baking bliss to prepare the cake for the child’s simple first birthday party.