The Beaner's birthday isn't until next Sunday, but as that is Thanksgiving weekend, we had his birthday party today. It was a joint party with a classmate whose birthday is on Thanksgiving Day; we figured that since both kids wanted to have their parties at the same place, and they'd invite all the same classmates plus maybe one or two out-of-school friends, we might as well kill two birds with one stone.
We did two separate cakes so that each kid would get to blow out his and her own candles (and so there would be an artificial flavor/artificial color/preservative-free option for the Beaner), but otherwise there was no duplication.
I ended up making the Beaner's cake because he didn't want chocolate cake (the bakery we'd planned to use has awesome "safe" chocolate cakes, but I'm not sure about their yellow cakes), and because it just seemed like the easiest way to guarantee no artificial crap. He made it a bit harder by also requesting no frosting; he says it "tastes funny." I think it's probably just too sweet, but it's hard to know for sure.
At first I thought I'd just dust his cake with powdered sugar, but once I got the thing assembled (I made two boxes of Dr. Oertner's—or whatever the organic cake mix brand that Whole Foods carries is—vanilla in 9x13 pans and spread Trader Joe's low-sugar organic strawberry preserves between the layers), I didn't think the powdered sugar idea would work.
I consulted Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook for ideas, trying to come up with something that was whipped cream-like, but more stable. (The Beaner loves whipped cream.) I finally hit on a Mascarpone frosting recipe that involved a pound of Mascarpone cheese, 1.25 cups of heavy cream, and only 1/2 cup of confectioner's sugar. I figured it would do.
Before I iced the cake last night, I had to put the Beaner to bed. I read him three stories and told him he needed to go to sleep quickly so I could get downstairs and finish his cake. "I want a car-shaped cake!" he said enthusiastically. I started and thought, "crap, why didn't I think to get a car-shaped cake mold?", and then, "how the heck would I shape what I've got into a car?" I finally said, "oh, Boo, I'm not sure I can do that."
"Oh," he said, not uncheerfully. "Then can you make the cake in my favorite shape?" I bought time with an "ummm," praying he wouldn't say his favorite shape was a circle. "My favorite shape is....A RECTANGLE!" he shouted. I smiled and said, "that I can do."
Long story short, the Mascarpone frosting was perfect, the cake as a whole tasted great, the Beaner had no complaints, and I'd totally make the same cake again, perhaps with raspberry filling next time. Oh, and the party was a huge success. Woo!