Streamer Cake

streamer cakeMy mom, Genny, just turned 70. I intended to make a butterscotch cake for her party this weekend, but it turned out to be a disaster: burnt on the edges and gooey in the middle. I blame the recipe, of course, so I’ll go in search of another one. In the meantime, I baked this yellow cake and paired it with vanilla almond buttercream for a classic, birthday-cake type of cake.

Frosting-wise, I took inspiration from the Better Homes & Gardens Baking book, which featured a similar cake with different colors of icing as “streamers.” I’ve been practicing my piping skills for the past few months, though to make this cake you need very basic ones. A ribbon tip is helpful for the bottom piping, but you could use a plain one and make a bead design if you preferred. Color-wise, you can choose whatever you like to match your party theme; I went with colors that remind me of my mom and her love of the outdoors: yellow for sunshine, green for grass, and blue for the sky.

Yellow Cake


  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 2/3 tablespoons butter, slightly softened
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups milk


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, then line with parchment and grease the parchment. Lightly dust with flour.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter on medium speed for one minute.

Add sugar and vanilla and beat until well combined.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each.

Add flour mixture and milk alternatively, beating until combined.

Divide batter evenly between pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pans for about 5 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely before frosting.

Vanilla Almond Buttercream


  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons almond extract
  • Yellow, green, and blue food coloring


In a mixing bowl, beat butter for about 1 minute.

Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until all of the sugar is fully incorporated into the butter; this will take a few minutes.

Add vanilla extract and almond extract, beating well to combine. Taste; add more extract if desired.

Reserve about 3/4 cup of frosting for tinting; leave the remainder of the frosting white.

Place the bottom layer of cake on platter and frost the top, then place the second layer on top and frost the top and sides, creating as even a surface as you can.

Fit a piping bag with a ribbon tip and pipe a ribbon around the bottom edge of the cake.

Divide reserved frosting into three bowls and tint to your desired shade. Fit three piping bags with small plain tips and place one color in each bag.

Pipe colors, one at a time, to resemble birthday streamers.

Store cake at room temperature for up to three days.


Roman’s Birthday Cake

Roman's Birthday Cake 2Our nephew Roman turned six yesterday. Mike and I moved back to Pittsburgh right after he was born, so we’ve had front-row seats to watch him grow up. It seems like just last week he was swaddled and drinking from a bottle. Now, he plays Angry Birds on my brother’s iPad and runs around the house with a light sabre telling me that “Jedi knights only need to sleep once a year, Auntie,” when I attempt to put him to bed.

Roman is a funny, intelligent lad who requested a chocolate cake with chocolate icing for his birthday. It’s an easy recipe, yielding a single layer cake that is good for smaller parties (we hosted Roman’s family party, with seven people in attendance, at it worked out very well). To complement our outer space theme, I also baked Planet Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting and used some of the vanilla buttercream to decorate this cake.

For the Chocolate Cake (originally posted on 12/29/12)


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare the pan one of two ways: grease the bottom, line it with a circle of waxed paper, then grease the paper and the sides of the pan and flour well, or use Wilton Bake Easy! Nonstick spray. This time, I used the Wilton spray and it worked very well.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Add milk, shortening, and vanilla, beating on medium speed for two minutes.

Add egg and beat on medium speed for another two minutes.

Pour batter into prepared pan; it will be a light brown color and very fluffy in texture.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool cake on a wire rack in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan (if you desire) to cool completely.

For the Chocolate Almond Buttercream Frosting


  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened to a texture like ice cream (not too soft)
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk


In a mixing bowl, beat butter for about 30 seconds.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Cover your mixer with a kitchen towel to prevent a powdered sugar/cocoa storm and set your mixer on low, beating until all the sugar and powder is incorporated into the butter; this takes a few minutes.

Add vanilla and beat for one to two minutes, then add the almond and beat for a few minutes, and finally the milk, beating for a few minutes. You want a very smooth, easily-spreadable texture.

Frost the cake according to your preferred frosting thickness; decorate as you like.