This past weekend we celebrated my niece's second birthday. Continuing the tradition we started on her first birthday, Mom and I go over to my sister's a few hours early to help decorate the house and work on the cake. Because of my ankle, I didn't help with the house decorating, but when it comes to the cake it's a group effort: my sister baked the cakes, whipped up the frosting, and tinted it to her heart's content, I did the piping on the two large character cakes, and Mom did some piping (her first time!) on some small character cakes and kept the baby quiet and content (most important job of all). My sister also frosted and piped a small round cake with one of Mom's even smaller character cakes on it, specifically for the birthday girl to get into as deeply and messily as she wanted. The big character cakes took a bit of time as most of the surface area was covered with a star tip; I need to work on my speed, because I think I caused my poor sister a little bit of stress! The birthday girl has recently discovered a deep love of SpongeBob Squarepants, so that was the theme. Here is one of the two large character cakes that I did:
Here is the small round for our birthday girl, frosted and piped by my sister, with a small character cake on top by Mom.
There was also a 3 1/2 year old at the party, my niece's cousin, and he was entranced by the sight of these cakes. He insisted on being able to smell them! "I'm not gonna touch Mommy, wanna smell! [SNIFF] Mmmm." Both he and my niece were prepared to eat cake the moment the party started, and it was with some difficulty we persuaded them to wait a little while and participate in activities other than staring at cake.
It was a great party, everything turned out really well, and eventually we all got some cake. Can you ask for a better day than that?
Simple Vanilla Buttercream
This is the recipe we used for our frosting. It is stiff enough to hold intricate piping designs, but will eventually soften in your hands as you work the bag, so plan accordingly. It's not too sweet, and has great vanilla flavor thanks to the bean paste. I'm posting it in its most simplistic state, and it really couldn't be easier to scale up for bigger projects like this one was.
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 C confectioners' sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
a sprinkle of salt
Whip together with electric beaters or a stand mixer in whatever multiple amount you need!