After some discussion, I decided to make my own birthday cake because, really, I just wanted a lovely pink cake on a pretty cake stand for my twenty-sixth birthday and I was going to get over the fact that my mom wasn’t around to make it for me!
I took the suggestions from Liz and Phoebe in the comments and asked Eric to buy the supplies and then assist me in the kitchen.
Here is how we made it!
One box of Betty Crocker yellow cake mix
OK, the cookbook has a real recipe, but quite often, I look at cake projects and think, “OK…am I going to focus on the cake or the frosting here?” I feel like most of the time, the frosting is the star of the show and I’d rather put my efforts into that and just use a boxed cake mix. And honestly, I find that more often than not, I prefer the light, spongy texture of a Duncan Hines or Betty Croker cake to the dense, made-from-scratch cakes/cupcakes from bakeries anyway.
OK, so onto the real recipe…
Pink Buttercream Frosting Ingredients
7 and ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 and ¾ cups unsalted butter, slightly softened
¾ cup poured fondant (Eric actually found this at Hobby Lobby; we used powder that you combine with water to make that sticky-sweet candy filling)
¼ cup whole milk
1 tablespoon plus ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
⅛ teaspoon salt
1 to 2 drops rose food coloring
“This is what makes Amy’s Bread Pink Cake pink. It’s essentially the same frosting recipe that’s found on the confectioners’ sugar boxes from the grocery store, but we add a pinch of salt to mellow out the intense sweetness of the sugar and a dab of poured fondant to give it a smoother texture and make it easier to spread on the cake. To get the pink tint, we use Baker’s Rose liquid food coloring. But 1 or 2 drops of any red food coloring will be fine. This is a very sweet, heavy, stiff frosting, but you can adjust the spreading consistency by holding back a little of the sugar or adding a few extra drops of milk. Be careful not to make it too soft, or the weight of the frosting will cause it to slip down the sides of the cake and pool around the bottom.” — Amy Scherber, The Sweeter Side of Amy’s Bread
This Is How We Do It
Bake two 9-inch cakes according to box directions. Let cool completely — I made mine a day ahead so I didn’t get impatient waiting for them to cool before frosting.
Use an electric mixer and beat 5 and ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, the butter, fondant, milk, vanilla, and salt in the bowl until they are smooth and creamy, about 2 to 3 minutes. (Start with a low speed and increase the speed to medium when the powdery sugar has been absorbed slightly unless you want a kitchen that looks like a coke den.)
Gradually add the remaining sugar 1 cup at a time until the frosting is of good spreading consistency, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl often. I didn’t use much extra sugar. The frosting should be stiff enough to hold is shape but not so stiff that you’ll be unable to spread it easily on the cake. Add 1 or 2 small drops of rose food coloring (use a light hand! mine got too bright!) and continue beating the frosting on medium-low speed until you have a uniform pale pink color. This frosting is heavy but it should have a fluffy quality.
Grab a cake leveler. I bought the Wilton one just for this cake, because I wanted the second layer to sit nicely on top of the first. (You can also get them at Michael’s, JoAnn’s, or Hobby Lobby; wait for their next “50 percent off one item” coupon and then strike! It’s good to have around if you ever want to make a rainbow cake.) The cake leveler was really cool and pretty easy to use; I was nervous about doing it wrong or cutting off my finger, but it went just fine. Once I had a nice flat cake, I spread a thin layer of frosting onto it.
My frosting was a bit on the stiff side; I probably should have thinned it out a tiny bit so it spread better. If it’s too thick, it will tear at your cake.
From there, I just frosted the cake! I used a medium-sized frosting spreader to glop it on and sort of spread it into the peaked formation that Amy’s Bread uses in their bakery. I just love the retro feel of it!
About the cake stand: I had wanted a cake stand for a long time, but I wanted one with a dome so that it was actually functional. I thought about looking for one at Target while I was there the weekend before my birthday, but I figured Target wouldn’t have any pretty cake stands. It seemed like a specialty item, you know? The Anchor cake stand I chose was perfect — fabulously retro, doubles as a punch bowl (which is extra retro!), and it was a reasonable price. I had it shipped and managed to lug the huge box into my apartment without breaking it.
The day after my birthday, I found the same one at Target for $15. $15!!! I’ve never found something in a store that much cheaper than I found on Amazon! I was speechless. And annoyed!
Anyway…the frosting (and the cake!) was so good. Mmmmm…and with Neapolitan ice cream!? Dreamy! I’m not a huge frosting person, but it was just…perfect. I actually didn’t want to waste any of the cake so Eric and I bought a special storage container for it so I could take it on vacation with us to share with his family. Once I unpacked it, it looked like it had been stored after being used as a weapon in a food fight, but everyone still ate it. It’s what’s inside that counts, right?