I made a birthday cake from scratch that came out looking beautiful... until I found a toddler (who shall remain unnamed) picking away at the cake when my back was turned. Perhaps it was all for the best that the picture somehow deleted itself from my camera, so I don't post a mauled birthday cake for the world to see.
I don't use artificial flavorings or colorings (or msg) because doing so leaves me with a long lasting headache (in addition to whatever other long term health effects), so making a pretty birthday cake was a bit of a challenge.
I was inspired by this recipe as a way to add vibrancy to my frosting without the chemicals.
I ended up making a glaze, if only because my margarine (I needed non dairy- yes, I know, not exactly healthy) was not cooperating. (Next time I use butter.) I took a beet, boiled it, peeled it, and blended it in the food processor until it achieved a baby food like consistency. To it I added powdered sugar, lemon juice and oil. I drizzled it over my cake and it was so beautiful and magenta. Even my beet hating dad loved the cake and glaze- it did not even taste remotely of beets.
I used my mom's simply divine plain cake recipe and spiffied it up to make it marble cake. It earned rave reviews.
Plain Cake Recipe:
1.5 c sugar
.5 c oil
1 tsp vanilla
1.5 c orange juice (I used freshly squeeze orange juice that I made at home)
3 c flour
3 tsp baking powder
.5 tsp salt
Preheat your oven to 350.
Mix together the sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla, and orange juice. Dump in the rest of the ingredients. Mix together until you get a uniform consistency.
Lightly grease a cake pan. Pour in the batter. Put the cake pan in the oven. Let cook for 20-40 minutes. Depending on how deep the pan is, it will take either longer or shorter.
Take the cake out when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Variations: Mix 4 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon cocoa, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Cut this mixture into the cake in swirls to make a marble cake.
I used a silicon bundt pan like this. This made the cake so much more beautiful and made it have less need for decorations. I greased the pan with a very thin layer of coconut oil, though I'm sure any other oil would do the trick as well.
Tips to Keep Cakes Complete: I have always broken my cakes when trying to get them out of the cake pan. If I can help anyone else prevent making this same mistake as I always made, I would be thrilled.
Do not try to take the cake out of the pan immediately. Wait till the cake completely cools down before attempting to remove it. Sugar melts in the oven, so when the cake is hotter, it is less firm because of the melted sugar. When the sugar cools down and hardens, it'll be easier to remove the cake without breaking it.
Greasing the pan also helps.
Before trying to remove the cake, pull the silicon sides away from the cake gently. Do this bit by bit around the whole perimeter of the cake. Once you loosened all the sides, when you flip over the cake pan onto your desired surface, the cake should slip right out on to the pan.
Do you buy birthday cakes or make your own? If you avoid food colorings, how do you make your frosting pretty?