Simple Cakewalk Ideas

It’s that time of year again! It’s cakewalk season at many schools! I will admit it – when I see the cakewalk memo in my daughter’s school bag I let out a big ol’ sigh. It’s not because I am opposed to cake walks, but because I am not a talented cake decorator and I hate the idea of disappointing the hundreds of little faces who walk from cake-to-cake trying to decide where to put their tickets. 

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If you’re not familiar with a cakewalk, it’s a school fundraiser where a bunch of cakes and cupcakes (typically bought or baked by parents) are lined up on tables typically in a gymnasium. The kids walk around looking at all of the cakes and cupcakes, and then pay for tickets to deposit in the bags or boxes belonging to the cakes they hope to win. Once all of the kids have done this, tickets are drawn and kids win cakes! Usually it’s one cake/package of cupcakes per kid.

The pressure is on to get the cake with the most tickets!  

Or is it?  

I have learned over the years that most kids don’t really care what the cakes or cupcakes look like – especially the younger kids. What they do care about is the amount of chocolate, candy and sugar the cake has! The more the merrier! 

Having said this, it doesn’t alleviate the pressure as much as it should for me. I would love to be a talented cake decorator, but I am anything but! Every time I see a cake walk memo my mind spins with ideas of what I should create versus what I CAN create. I would love to be that mom who can create a life size minion cake that looks so realistic that you expect it to talk (this cake actually existed at one of my daughter’s cake walks – that mom is one heck of a cake decorator let me tell you!). 

I know some parents purchase baked goods and I believe that is great if that works for them because for me, it’s all about participating. I, however, like to bake (it’s the decorating part I loathe). So, I try and bake something “attractive” for each cake walk. The first couple of years I would bake a cake similar to what you see below from the blog of Mrs Rachel Brady. A simple chocolate cake with chocolate icing and Smarties as polka dots. Perfect.

Easy chocolate birthday cake via  Mrs Rachel Brady

Easy chocolate birthday cake via Mrs Rachel Brady

Then my daughter mentioned that many parents make cupcakes and break them into four containers with six cupcakes each or six containers with four cupcakes each. Genius! This means there are more “cakes” for the kids to win and covers off any parents who may not have contributed. So, now I make cupcakes. 

My standby, “Oh crap, I forgot the cakewalk is tomorrow!” cupcake is ‘worms and dirt.’ It’s the chocolate cupcakes and chocolate icing or crumbled up cookie topping with gummy worms. Quick and simple to make and a hit with the younger kids (so I hear anyway).

This year I wanted to venture out of my comfort zone. I asked on Twitter if anyone had thoughts and made it clear that cake decorating it not my forté. It was recommended that I check out Pinterest, but the only cakes I ever saw on there were way out of my talent-league. But then someone sent me a link to cakewalk cake ideas on Pinterest and right away I spotted something I could do! It was simple, fun and cute!

The little piggies cupcakes were so easy to make and when I dropped them off the students collecting the cakes thought they were adorable! I can see myself making these again for the next cakewalk. 

Simple Cake Walk Ideas - Little Piggie Cupcakes

Suffice to say, I have learned to accept that I will never be the minion cake-making parent. Instead I am proud of myself for contributing something to every cakewalk my daughter has been a part of and that I made something that hopefully made a kid smile. Albeit, sometimes that kid is my own because she notices there are no tickets for my contribution and chooses to put her tickets in to win it. ;)

Are you a talented cake decorator? What are your favourite cake walk ideas?

Easy Birthday Cupcakes - A Mom's Lifesaver

by Isabelle I recently resuscitated an old trick of my mom's for those times where you're busy and you're expecting a bunch of kids to your house: ice cream cone cupcakes. I made them a few weeks ago for my little guy's fourth birthday, and they were a HUGE hit, with both kids and grownups.

Step 1: Prepare your favorite cake batter (or use a mix if you're short on time and ingredients)

Step 2: Pour the batter into flat-bottomed ice cream cones placed in muffin tins.

Step 3: Bake according to cupcake recipe directions (nothing special needed for the cones).

Step 4: Decorate and enjoy!

This is what my quickie cupcakes looked like:

For slightly older kids, an easy birthday party activity would be to frost the cupcakes themselves. With the 3- and 4-year old crowd, though, I picked a different activity and just let them enjoy the pre-decorated cupcakes :)

Isabelle is the mom of 3.5 year old Jay and two-month old Rosie. You can also find her at Dr. Peach’s Blog.

Lemon cupcakes

by Brie I love cupcakes. They make me think of birthday parties.  Presents. Walking the streets of New York with a vanilla cupcake and mile high blue buttercream icing from Magnolia Bakery. Yum.

My kids like cupcakes too. Really, what isn't there to like. Cupcakes are kid sized cakes.

Baking cupcakes, and sometimes muffins that I call cupcakes, are a favorite thing to do around here. I find baking is the perfect way to fill a rainy or snowy afternoon. Especially if you get strategic about it.

I like to get the kids to do their baking in the dining room. This means we spend at least ten minutes carrying all the ingredients and tools that we need to make the cupcakes from the kitchen to the dining room. I give them one thing at a time. Maybe two spoons on one trip, but that is pushing it!

I sit my kids beside each other at the dining room table. My three-year old daughter is in charge of the bowl of wet ingredients. I even let her break the eggs. Sure I sometimes have to pick out some egg-shell, but she really enjoys it. She also really enjoys transferring ingredients like milk and oil from the measuring cup to the bowl with a teaspoon. That can take forever! My eighteen month old son gets the bowl of dry ingredients. He can spend a long time stirring and stirring the flour with a large wooden spoon.

Sometimes I make cupcakes from a box, but more often I pull out my copy of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Despite the fact that all the recipes are vegan, which are great for anyone with daily allergies, I usually use milk because I have it in the house more often than soy milk. The cupcakes from this cookbook all come up light and fluffy. And since the recipes make twelve small cupcakes I don't feel too bad eating two in one day!

Here is my modified recipe for lemon cupcakes:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

2. Whisk one cup milk with 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar and set aside to curdle.

3. Beat together milk mixture, 1/3 cup oil, 3/4 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons lemon extract.

4. Mix together 1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 3/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon salt and mix together.

5. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet. (This is where the kids could start fighting so have a distraction ready. Icing works)

6. Fix a muffin pan with batter using an ice cream scoop.

7. Bake for 20 - 22 minutes. Let cool before frosting.

If I am feeling extravagant I will also whip up some icing. Just beat 2 tablespoons softened butter, 1 cup icing sugar, 1 tablespoon milk and 1/2 vanilla (or lemon extract) until smooth with an electric mixer.

The icing is easy to make and the girl will happily spend ten minutes icing all the cupcakes with a spoon.

 

Meanwhile, her brother will happily lick a beater.

Baking may be all about the recipe, but it is also about being creative! Creative use of time that is.

Brie is the mom of a 3.5 year old daughter "the girl" and eighteen month old son "the boy". You can read her blog at Capital Mom.