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Need a simple birthday cake

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Hi all,
For his birthday, my 5-year-old and I will be making a cake together. :) I am in need of a simple recipe, or even recommendation of box mix, that will not be too difficult for us and still tastes good. (I don't bake cakes much.) He likes yellow cake. I am hoping that this will become an annual tradition for us--making cake as part of the celebration.

I would also like add icing. Is that difficult to make? At the store, I notice that they sell tubes of icing, and also icing mix. I bought the icing mix, but have no experience with it.

I would greatly appreciate your advice, tips, suggestions, etc.
Thanks!

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  1. here's an easy recipe for yellow cake from allrecipes.com

    Ingredients
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 cups white sugar
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    4 eggs
    1 cup vegetable oil
    3/4 cup orange juice
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract

    Directions
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.
    In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and baking powder. Make a well in the center and pour in the eggs, oil, orange juice and vanilla. Mix well and pour into prepared pans.
    Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.

    I've found that a stick of butter whipped with powered sugar a few dribbles of milk/cream and an extract for flavoring makes a really easy frosting too. Just start the mixer on low otherwise your whole kitchen will be covered in white

    1. If you want to stick with the reliability of a mix, but want to make it a little special, look up the Cake Mix Doctor. That will give you lots of ideas. Also, I've never done it, but I have heard of a way to make a cake with a box of mix and a pint of melted ice cream. It allows you to play with flavors a bit more. Perhaps Google that and see what you think.

      I've never heard of icing mix, so can't help there. But the frosting I make is just cream cheese, butter, confectioner's sugar and flavoring (zest or extracts), which is really quite simple.

      1. If you want to go the scratch route, you can't beat Restaurant Eve's Just Because cake and the frosting:

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...

        There are a lot of ways a five year old could help with the whole thing. If you would consider a chocolate frosting, you could just melt a bag of chocolate chips and mix it w/ a container of sour cream--it makes a really easy, super fudge-y frosting (use some milk chocolate in place of the chocolate chips for a sweeter frosting).

        If you want to go the cake mix route, I've read that Betty Crocker makes the best yellow cake recipe and it makes a big difference to use milk instead of water and add real vanilla. Tubes of icing and sprinkles are really fun for kids to help decorate. Have a variety and it's often the best part of the whole thing, other than eating.;-)

        1. I am not much of a cake baker either, but I made a lemon poppy seed cake with this incredible vanilla frosting a few months back. Seriously, you've gotta try this stuff -- blows any icing outta the water!

          http://thepioneerwoman.com/tasty-kitc...

          1. I would recommend a boxed mix since you don't bake often and your 5 yo wants to help. Easy and foolproof and you probably have eggs, oil, and water at home. The best tasting brand is Duncan Hines.

            When I think of icing, I think of thin piped words or a hard thin layer on a cookie. Do you mean frosting? Maybe try a simple buttercream recipe- you can make it vanilla, chocolate, or peanut butter. Then buy a few of the icing tubes and have a blast decorating.

            2 Replies
            1. re: cheesecake17

              Oh, right, I meant frosting. :) Shows you how little I know.
              Thanks!

              1. re: leesquare

                There's always time to learn!! Honestly, I would just put your effort into a simple frosting and the decorating. You guys will have a ball decorating! If you live near a cake decorating shop or a craft store (like Michael's) they usually have a baking/cake decorating section. You can get a cool shaped pan (like a train or buzz lightyear) and lots of interesting shapes of sprinkles and beautiful colored sugars.

                Are you having a party for your son's friends? A great birthday activity would be to pre-bake and frost the cupcakes and let the kids go crazy decorating. Stick a candle in your son's cupcake and let everyone enjoy their own creation.

            2. I'm not a box mix person, but when I have to use them in a pinch (kid needs cupcakes for track team dinner, etc.), then I find that simply making the mix as directed and adding a tsp of vanilla greatly improves the flavor and cuts the bitterness.

              For frosting, the easiest thing is to soften two sticks of butter, then beat in enough powdered sugar to make it spreadable, and flavor with vanilla and, most importantly, grated lemon peel. The lemon peel offsets the sweetness and gives a more balanced flavor. If lemon isn't your thing or it will clash with your cake, using a 3 oz pkg of cream cheese in place of some of the butter should do the same thing.

              Definitely buy some cute little decorations (or even just M&Ms) to put on your cake. Your 5 yo will love that!