While balloons and streamers scream happy birthday, the cake is definitely the star of the party. Your cake options are as numerous as the cakes in your imagination -- everything from a traditional sheet cake to something special like a castle.
We've put together our list of five cool ideas for birthday cakes for kids of all ages. Whether you try to save a little money by making your own cake or you order one from a local bakery, it's bound to be nothing but yummy.
The traditional sheet cake is one layer of frosted cake and probably one of the most popular cakes at birthday parties and other celebrations. Why? Because it easily feeds a crowd.
Decorating the sheet cake is what makes it special. Customize your kids' cake with a simple one-color frosting or an elaborate jungle scene, game of checkers or favorite cartoon character. With the right equipment (such as a printer and some rice paper), you can transfer a photo to the top of the cake. What's most cool about the sheet cake is that once it's cooled and frosted, the decorations can be left to the hands of the kids.
And if you don't want to make it yourself, sheet cakes are usually ready to go at the local supermarket for less than $1 per kid, depending on the size of the party.
Take the Train
Sure, you could buy a sheet cake and frost it with a picture of a train. But what about building a train out of cake? That's what we're talking about here. Creating a train cake will take time, patience and probably some baking pans you might not already own (depending on the recipe you decide to use -- do an online search for a variety of train cake recipes).
Be creative with the kinds of train cars you make -- this doesn't have to be Thomas the Tank Engine (unless that's what your child would like). Add a coal car, a caboose, whatever you imagine. Consider using candy to decorate the train after it's been frosted -- and don't forget to put down some licorice train tracks!
Doll It Up!
What would really knock the tiara off your birthday princess? Surprise her with a princess doll or Barbie cake.
It may sound a bit intimidating to try this one at home but essentially what you're making is the skirt -- the more elaborate like a fluffy ball gown the better. To construct this, you'll need two round cakes and one dome cake (or purchase a specialty baking pan in the shape of a doll dress), frosting and a doll (or specialty cake doll), and whatever candy or other goodies you want to use for skirt decoration.
Not only does she get her cake, but she gets to eat it with her new doll, too.
A hamburger cake is as decadent, if not more, than the real burger you fashion it after. It combines yellow cake (as the bun) and brownies (as the burger, although you could also choose to use chocolate cake) with a variety of fruits or candies as the toppings.
Bake two yellow cakes as well as the brownie layer in round cake pans. Use a mix of confectioners sugar and water as a paste to adhere the brownie layer to the bottom bun and the condiments to the brownie. Choose strawberries and kiwis as tomatoes and lettuce, and dye whipped topping yellow and red for your mustard and ketchup.
Here's the tricky part -- the top bun. Be gentle, and consider placing the bun on top just before serving!
All the cool kids have iPods and now they can have it as their cake, too.
The trick to the iPod cake is in the details. The snazziest iPod cakes (or iCake?) are two layer sheet cakes that are stacked and covered with fondant (marshmallow fondant makes a good white iPod). For a simple iPod cake, bake a sheet cake and frost it with white frosting (or dye to the color or your birthday boy or girl's iPod). Looking for something even quicker? Pick up a plainly decorated sheet cake at your local supermarket and decorate.
Screens, menus and click wheels can be drawn on with decorating gels and piped frosting. Headphones sold separately.