To Bake or to Buy? Should You Make or Buy the Birthday Cake?

For my son’s second birthday I struggled with whether or not to make the cake myself. Last year it was an easy decision: You need something special for the first birthday. I need to make the cake, I thought. Months before the event, I took a cake decorating class. Not knowing that I had to bake and frost a cake every week for a month, I endured the class and learned the basics of how to frost a decorative cake.

The night before my son’s first birthday I was up past midnight, with yellow icing up to my elbows. It was worth it. (The wine helped.) The cake turned out so cute and I was very proud.

This year, I wanted to do that same thing. We matured from a duck cake to a car cake. He loves cars so how could I not make a cake in the shape of a car? If you’ve never made a specialty cake before, it takes a lot of work. And I mean a lot of work. And, it’s not that it’s cheaper than a store-bought cake. Even though I had all the supplies and I’d already purchased the cake mold a few months ago, I was still dreading the baking and icing of the cake. Shouldn’t I just call Publix and order the Disney Cars cake?

I was about to make the call, but finally decided that I wasn’t going to let myself fail. I want to make this cake and have him point to it and say his favorite word, “car.” So, I forged ahead; made a plan, baked and frosted that cake. Even as I was making it, I made mental notes to think twice about doing it for birthday number three.

Finally, it is complete. The little blue car cake is sitting on the table in all it’s splendor. It is adorable. The kids love it, the adults are impressed and Mommy feels great for doing something special for her son’s second birthday.


  • Take a class at your nearby craft store. It really helps to learn the techniques to make the perfect cake.
  • Make all your frosting several days before you are ready to decorate. Store in air tight containers.
  • Make extra, white frosting. You might need to dye it for a color you didn’t plan on needing.
  • Buy the specialty gel coloring dyes; regular food dyes only make pastel icing.
  • Bake the cake a day before you want to frost it.
  • Keep a bowl of water on the table to clean the icing tips and to use on your frosting spatula to smooth the surface of the cake.
  • Frost a layer of “flat” icing before you pipe the star shapes.
  • Leave plenty of time to frost the cake. Do it the night before or early, early in the morning, depending on the time of your party.


car birthday cake for kids

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{ 6 comments… add one }

  • Tinkerbellkim November 27, 2007, 11:26 pm

    That cake is so adorable!!! I can’t wait to make cakes for baby!

  • Symonds December 19, 2007, 6:01 am

    Nice cake,To cook a perfect cake you need to learn how to prepare cake.Preparing cake is not enough it is also very important to decorate your cake.cake decorating tips can help you to decorate you cake.

  • Sharon Ott Nagashima December 31, 2007, 10:41 pm

    Wow – nice cake Alicia – I’m so impressed. I bought mine – shame on me…you inspire me!

  • Mary Kate Ferry June 10, 2008, 4:42 pm

    I’m soooo impressed with your cake. I can make good cakes, but not nearly as good as yours.

  • Alicia at June 11, 2008, 7:58 am

    Thanks MKF! I really tried last year with the car cake. I need to do a post about his first birthday — I made a cake in the shape of a duck. Probably too hard for my first attempt, but worth it. I like the car better though!

  • Bherzen January 1, 2013, 8:25 am

    Darlene, It is remarkable how you have stregglud all your life and have reached so Far, I truely admire you for what you are today. Congratulations Darlene! I wish you all the best for your future endeavours! You deserve the best.Thanks for all your support and friendship.

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