Growing up, my family all had birthdays in June, except for me, marooned alone in January. That changed two years ago, when not one, but two granddaughters arrived to share the sign of Capricorn and the garnet birthstone with me. Suddenly, a January birthday seems more exciting and fun!
I’m making cakes for each girl’s birthday this year. Now, I’m not a fancy cake baker, much as I’d like to be. But it is possible to make a pretty cake without too much fuss. The key is to keep it simple, so that overly ambitious plans don’t overtake the pleasure of making a cake that a child will find enchanting.
For Little Miss M’s birthday last week, I used my simple vanilla cupcake recipe, dividing the batter among three six-inch pans and baking for 25 minutes. Each layer was only about an inch tall after I trimmed off the rounded tops, making a charming diminutive cake for just the birthday girl and her family to enjoy.
For the simple frosting, I blended a half cup of softened unsalted butter with two cups of confectioners sugar, and added a half teaspoon of almond extract and about a quarter cup of raspberry purée. This frosting added beautiful natural colour and flavour.
I opted for a rustic frosted look, with some of the cake showing through on the sides, and using a large round tip to add some “candy kiss” embellishments on the top. A finishing sprinkle of sparkling sugar added just the right touch of magic.
This cake was in no way perfect — in fact, it was even lopsided, but I like to say that’s because there was so much love in it. Seeing my granddaughter’s face light up when she saw it, I knew it was perfectly perfect to her.