Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Jesus Cake

I've made a birthday cake for our Savior, Jesus Christ every Christmas for the past 5 years. It's a tradition I hope to have every matter what. I make sure to keep it simple; if for some reason I was incapacitated, David could make problem. I'm sure my poor kitchen would be unrecognizable afterwards, but oh well. He did make a cake for me once. We had just started dating, and he made me dinner, start to finish, including a 2 layer cake. Talk about impressing a girl!

This recipe calls for a store-bought cake mix, but if you have a special cake you'd like to make from scratch, please go ahead. And be sure to let me know...I would love to hear all about it! Now, I do make cake frosting from scratch. Homemade frosting spreads SO much better than the canned stuff. Trust me...please...just make it, you'll be so glad you did.

Happy Birthday Jesus Cake


1 box cake mix
Oil, eggs, and water for the cake mix
Vegetable shortening and flour for greasing cake pans


4 cups powdered sugar (about 1 pound)
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk


Graham cracker crumbs
Miniature nativity set
Gel food coloring of choice

Bake the cake in two cake pans according to the box instructions. Make sure to grease the cake pans with shortening and flour, even if your cake pans are non-stick. You will save yourself one big headache if you do. Leave the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes after baking,

then turn them out onto a rack to cool completely.

Now for the a stand mixer bowl, beat the butter and shortening together on medium speed. Add the vanilla extract. Then add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating well after each addition. You will need to scrape down the bowl several times to make sure all the sugar is well incorporated. It will appear dry, but don't worry! Add the milk, one tablespoon at a time, beating well, and scraping the bowl as necessary. The frosting should look light and fluffy.

Reserve 1/3 cup of frosting for the lettering. Place one cake layer on a pedestal or serving plate. Tuck 4 strips of wax paper under the cake so you won't get frosting all over the place.

Plop a nice big dollop of frosting on top of the cake, and spread it around the top. You don't have to make it perfect, just try to make it level so the next layer of cake sits nice and flat.

Place the second cake layer on top...

and then use the rest of the frosting to cover the top and sides. Don't worry about making it look professional...I just use my offset spatula, and make it as smooth as possible. If there's a spot here and there, I don't obsess over it. After all, my kids don't care...all I have to say is, "Chocolate cake" and they come running :-).

Take a couple of spoonfuls of graham cracker crumbs and spread them in a circle on the top of the cake. This will keep your nativity set from sinking too deeply into the frosting.

At this point, grab whoever happens to be running through the kitchen (this time, it was Christina), and offer the leftover frosting in the bowl.

Then send that child off to inform the rest of the kids...which she promptly did. Everyone got their own spoon to lick, including Gabriel, lol.

Okay, back to the cake! Tint the reserved 1/3 cup frosting whatever color you like (we did ours in blue), and pipe, "Happy Birthday Jesus" around the edge of the cake. (You can see how I used a zip-top bag for piping decorations on my Gingerbread Cookies).

Set the miniature nativity set in the middle of the graham cracker crumbs. Ours is simply a little craft kit that came from Oriental Trading Company. Wait a couple of hours for the frosting to set, then remove the waxed paper strips.

We sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus after dinner last night. The kids all happily consumed a piece of cake.

This is a simple, special cake to make for Christmas...I hope you make one for your family.

God bless your table tonight!

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