The Birthday Party

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This month, my little baby turned 4!  How can this be?  Despite her amazing vocabulary and her wide range of skills, I still have a hard time believing that she’s 4 years old now (and ready for school – hoping that September might come this weekend).

This is the first year she has had her own ideas of how she wanted the party to go.  I will blame it on Dora, but apparently birthday parties have pinatas.  So, I spent the week leading up to her party making a dinosaur pinata.  Thank goodness for this blogger who made one a few years ago!  The instructions are super easy to follow (if you’ve done papier mache before) and the result is amazing. I did two layers of paper and it took the 4 little girls forever to break it apart!  It might have been the fact that we were using a tennis racket instead of a baseball bat, but still.

dinosaur pinata

Along with a dinosaur pinata, we also had to make a dinosaur cake.  I had seen a dinosaur cake pan at Bulk Barn, but then a friend from work suggested just making a cut-out cake.  Despite my mom’s protestations on how difficult that can be, I forged ahead and made a 9×13 yellow cake (from scratch!), chilled it, cut it, placed it on a cutting board (because nothing else was big enough) and iced it.  It turned out to be a little easier than I thought!  And I got so many rave reviews that I just have to share it here.

cake shape

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Yellow cake (from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook)

You could definitely just make a boxed cake and cut it into this shape.  However, I am a bit of a cake snob and have widely announced that fact, so I had to make a cake from scratch.  This is an amazing yellow cake!

What you need:
   2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    1/4 cup corn starch
    1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    12 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    3 large eggs, at room temperature
    1 1/2 cups buttermilk, well-shaken

What to do:
Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 9×13 pan.  I also put parchment paper in the bottom of the pan and greased that, because I was planning on taking the cake out to cut it, but if you’re just doing a sheet cake that you’ll leave in the pan, this step is not necessary.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, corn starch, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixture at medium speed until the mixture is pale and fluffy.  Then beat in the vanilla.  Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  At low speed, beat in the buttermilk until just combined.  Add the flour mixture in three batches and stir just until combined.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake about 30-40 minutes – until golden and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean (it took me about 45 minutes).  Cool the cake in the pan for a few minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert it onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Leave it in the cake pan to cool if you’re going to serve it that way.

To ice the cake, find your favourite icing recipe (I used a buttercream icing that I would definitely change before making again) and start by putting a thin layer of icing over the whole cake.  This is called the crumb coat and ensures you don’t have crumbs ending up in your pretty top icing.  Then mix the colours you want, break out a piping bag, and decorate!

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4 thoughts on “The Birthday Party

  1. My oldest son used to love everything dinosaur and all Jurassic Park merchandise. I made him a dinosaur cake for his 5 birthday. He’s now a grown man…I hope your daughter had a wonderful birthday. I am sure the four little girls had fun breaking the piñata apart. My last two kids are 13 and 15 and I still wish they could grow quickly and go to college. I bet I’ll be very lonely then. Who knows! I wish you a happy weekend. Kiss the birthday girl for me!

      • Ha ha who is gonna make one? you or the mum? I love little girls they are always such a pleasure to be with. Have a wonderful day! We’re getting some snow today…sigh!

      • I’m pretty sure the mum will be making it – it’s my sister and she’s pretty creative herself! There’s no way I’d make one for someone else. I mean, it’s fun and all, but a TON of work.

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