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LET'S COOK: Cakes for Celebrations

March 15, 2019
Chuck Repnow , Pierce County Tribune

There were five boys in my family, and we all grew up having special cakes made for our birthdays. My mom was the type to plough ahead with a cake plan and her cake-patching ability, when needed, turned out many wonderful cakes. The cake may have been lopsided, frosting too thin, but in the end they all turned out looking amazing thus creating a happy golden day. Over the years, there were trains, sailboats, lions, balloons, and many other shaped cakes. This opened wide the door of creativity for me to start baking and making cakes at the age of 10. Many of the first cakes needed the remodeling hand of my mother, but that is part of learning.

I have come to realize that there is no one, young or old, who doesn't love to celebrate a special occasion with a wonderful, fanciful cake one that you almost hate to cut into. I once made a cake that looked like a vintage '50s diner all trimmed with red and pink. It was near Valentine's Day so the shutters were heart shaped, window boxes had red flowers and you know if you stared long enough at that front door, it would open and waiters would dance out to serve you coffee and bow if you asked for a cookie. That cake ended up at the Wolford School bake sale and brought a wonderful price for their fundraising.

This cake story continues with my dating, engagement, and marriage to Jan. Her family, too, was into creating cakes. I recall with much fondness the very first cake she baked when I came to visit. It was called Sunshine Layer Cake and was a favorite of the Thompson family for years. The flavor, texture, filling and frosting did bring much sunshine to the table. Each year we continue to make special cakes for each other's birthdays in various shapes such a typewriters, garden parks, boxes with ribbons and flowers, plus many more!

Article Photos

Lydia’s Favorite Butter Cream Frosting
This is our traditional “red-velvet cake frosting.” This frosting is tasty and great for textured effects.
Cook until thick; cool.
- 5 T. flour
- 1 cup whole milk
Cream:
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup butter
- 1 tsp. vanilla
Add cooled mixture of flour/milk to creamed mixture and beat with mixer.

Pink Camellia Cream
- 1 cup soft vegetable shortening
- About 2 ½ cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 egg white, unbeaten
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- Red food coloring
In a bowl, with mixer at low speed, mix shortening just until smooth. Add half of confectioners’ sugar, salt, and cornstarch; continue to mix at low speed just until smooth.
Next add egg whites, extracts and rest of the confectioners’ sugar or enough to make mixture stiff that a knife drawn through it leaves a clean-cut path; mix again at low speed until smooth. Then tint frosting with pink with a small amount of red food coloring. Other food coloring can be used as well.

Another chapter to our cake baking and decorating has been written with the birth of our daughter, Lydia. Her first year birthday bake was beautifully created by Karen Miller of Rugby, and we still smile how Lydia responded upon seeing it and she said "so pretty." Her birthday celebrations have included several doll cakes created with fully fashioned cake skirts that Lydia loved. Next came cut out cakes in various shape such as cats, figure skates and so forth.

Lydia recently celebrated her 14th birthday. She is a music and science lover and her cake this year was in the stars. In fact, it was a star. So with stars come planets and they appeared as decorations around her cake. She is currently and actively participating in Science Olympiad with fellow teammates for Ramstad School.

Much of our cake baking orbits around the frosting we will be using. Sometimes it needs to be smooth, other times with texture, and many times needs strength to hold added ingredients such as coconut, sprinkles and even candy. So here are couple recipes that are tried and true for cake decorating. We are novice cake bakers and decorators but have launched a pattern of making special cakes for birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine's Day, Easter and other holidays. It is a pattern that brings smiles to those seated at the dessert table.

 
 

 

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