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Have your cake and ice it too!

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Will's 2nd Birthday Cake I helped my mom make

Baking in my family is a tradition. My granny was an awesome baker (and cook) and she always had something yummy waiting to be devoured by anyone who had the pleasure of walking through their front door. Her “front” door opened right into the kitchen, so there was no way to visit without enjoying a treat or two.

My mom's first birthday cake, made by Granny

Birthdays have always been a fun opportunity to create sweet confections. A few weeks before our birthday, my mom would ask us what we wanted to have on our cake. As our birthday drew near, we would brainstorm what the cake would be like and then create! Our whole family had fun putting it together, and while we didn’t have the cake mastery of Buddy the Cake Boss or Ace of Cakes, each cake was memorable.

Singer Sewing Machine Cake

Do you know what keeps us coming back to the decorating table every time? Homemade icing. It is so easy to make and a million times better than frosting from plastic tubs. All you need is a good mixer (Ideally a Kitchen Aid – but any stand mixer would be perfect)some simple ingredients, and a little creativity.

Will's 1st birthday cake made by me

White Icing Recipe:

  • 1 cup vegetable shortening (for butter cream icing use 1/2 cup shortening + 1/2 cup butter)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Cream shortening with electric mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use. Wait for your cake to cool before icing. This icing is so yummy and easy. There are a million icing recipes online now, and once you start making your own icing you will never want to go back to the store bought again. You can get fancy by adding color and using a decorating bag and cake tips or just spread your icing on your cake as is. I love using this icing recipe to make coconut cake. I just ice my cake with white icing and then press coconut flakes all over the cake. Delicious! If you would like more tips for cake decorating Wilton is a great online resource. You can also adapt this recipe for cookies:

  • 1 cup of shortening
  • 2lb bag of powder sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbs milk or whatever it takes to get the icing the right thickness
  • dash of salt
Do you have any favorite icing recipes or tips? or did you make this recipe, how did it turn out?

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About Jamie

Jamie is a creative-techie mom, raising three boys under three (twins!) with her husband in Pennsylvania. Jamie now writes at The Red Robinson,