Choosing a Cake for Her Big Day

My daughter is turning four this week. Four. One part of me is thrilled and other part of me is in disbelief. I also celebrate my journey of motherhood each spring so I think that adds a little extra sentiment to it all. See how darling and little she was on her first birthday (picture, above)? Sigh. As much as I love to bake her first two birthday cakes were purchased so last year was the first year I baked cakes for her party (yes, plural). One was a castle and the second was a princess cake where you put a doll in the center and the dress is made of cake. They turned out well and it was a lot of fun to make, but it was a little stressful trying to tackle two involved cakes on top of all the rest of the party planning.

This year we are getting ready to move in June and with our house on the market an involved cake is not a realistic choice for me. The way things seem to work it will be right when I have the kitchen covered in a film of flour and powdered sugar that I will get the call that someone would like to do a walk through in an hour. I am really torn whether to order a cake or bake it from scratch so I have been getting inspiration for sheet cake recipes. I am going to ditch the intricate, layered 3-D creations this year and find something simple, but delicious. Besides, no one will really cake what the cake looks like or how long it took to bake it as long as it tastes fabulous and has generous icing on top.

In lieu of purchasing a sheet cake I am considering this simple, yet mouth-watering vanilla cake recipe from the McCormick Website. I know I can totally knock two of these out the night before and save a substantial amount of money compared to ordering one and I will feel that satisfaction you lack when you feel like you have “settled” for something. I am all about taking shortcuts to make my life easier, but I hate to do it when I know I could make it for so much less and control the ingredients while I’m at it.

Do you bake your families birthday cakes or put your time and effort into making other aspects of their big day special?


Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Makes 24 servings.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract
4 eggs
3/4 cup milk

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 tablespoon McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract
1 box (16 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons milk

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.

2. Beat butter in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed 30 seconds or until softened. Add granulated sugar and vanilla; beat until light and fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl frequently. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Alternately beat in flour mixture and milk on medium-low speed just until mixed. Pour into greased and floured 13×9-inch baking pan.

3. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack.

4. For the Frosting, beat butter and vanilla in large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating well after each addition and scraping sides and bottom of bowl frequently. Add milk; beat until light and fluffy. Frost top of cake with frosting.

Looking for more spring baking and cooking inspiration? Check out the featured spring recipes on McCormick’s website or take a peek at their Pinterest boards for cooking and crafting inspiration.

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for McCormick. I received product samples and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

{If you enjoyed reading Choosing a Cake for Her Big Day I would be tickled pink if you left a comment. To read more about my green(er) parenting aspirations, advice and adventures be sure to subscribe to my RSS feed or get updates via email.}


By Emi Stapler. I am a cloth diaper advocate, green parenting blogger, mother of three and a military wife who enjoys sharing my motherhood adventures and advice. Follow me at The Cloth Diaper Report on Facebook, Twitter @TheCDReport , Google +, Pinterest and Instagram.

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  1. The recipe you listed sounds delicious. I’m not very good at baking so I’ve always bought them or had my mother make them.

    • Mine may or may not turn out like the professional photo, but as long as it tastes good I’ll be happy!

  2. You know Emi,

    I’ve done both and am just fine that way ( : The only bakery cakes I actually like are Costco cakes, and we have bought from them on occasion, with special requests from the birthday child. They’re also reasonably priced. I usually make one from scratch, but you know the decorations are never really pinterest worthy, although I try! We just have fun with it- I particularly enjoy when the kids can help with the decorating. In your situation sheet cakes sounds like the perfect idea!


    • What a great idea Susie! I should get the kids in on the decorating or let the birthday girl choose what she wants to put on top. As for Costco, I will finally live near one in a couple of months– pretty excited for that. Hope you and your family are well 😀

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