Sunday, July 10, 2011

Birthday Cake Tips - Kindergarten Crowns

Maybe the one question a professional baker hears more than any other is....

"Who baked your birthday cake?"

As many of you know, I went to Kansas City to watch Royals Baseball with my son Tydus for my birthday. It's kinda a Klecko tradition to spend his special day at a ball park.

It's a fair question though, receiving a birthday cake is the one-single-solitary food item that is designed exclusively for you.

You get to pick style...white, chocolate, marbled, red velvet etc.

Then there is the frosting....butter cream, mousse, fondant.

When the construction options are done, then you get to go Picasso.

Should I have my name written on it, do I want frosted clowns laying stretched out watching television, Or maybe I'll get a tacky picture of myself fused with a monkey body air brushed on LOL.

You can tell a lot about a person by the birthday cake they choose.

So to answer your question......

My birthday cake was a pink Dairy Queen ice cream cake that said "Happy Birthday Sue McGleno" and the piping had little plastic Barbie finger rings jammed into it.

I give my wife my birthday cake every year to remind her her how grateful I am that she has stuck with me,put up with me, and so forth.

We started our relationship with empty pockets and modest dreams, but deep down...I wanted to give her a castle, any real guy knows what I'm talking about.

Neither one of us had families that were equipped to help us out financially or lavish us with gifts or I think that's why I try to collect the few things that are all mine, and transfer them over to her.


Like most topics, this one has many different opinions.

Some cake geeks swear that the Greeks developed the birthday cake. These cakes from the antiquity period had a make up which was considerably different than what you'd find today, but none the less they held the same type of importance.

Most people will agree that the Greeks certainly were the first to make their cakes round. It was to depict the moon. That's why candles were employed...get it, so your cake would glow like the moon?

Then there are others who think the Germans made the first birthday cakes. What I heard was that the cakes kinda resembled Jesus and you were supposed to be grateful to Christ for giving you an opportunity to be you.

I like that story, and if you've ever read my Blog, you know that Klecko holds German bakers with the highest respect. If I had to vote, I'd say the Germans are the best technical bakers on Earth.

Then there is the belief that it was the Brits who coined the first "commercial" birthday cakes. Sometimes there would be small trinkets or jewelry inserted into them and whoever got that piece was "Finders-Keepers."

I remember in kindergarten, when it was your birthday, Mrs. Chili would pull out a tag board crown, and whoever the birthday kid was, they got to select a color for a cake, and a color for the candles and Mrs. Chili would draw them onto the crown, and that kid got to be a big shot all day long.

I was more than aloof in kindergarten. I didn't know how to tell time, I didn't know my months. Other than the fact the Gilligan's Isle was on after school, I had no concept of time.

Every week, or sometimes 2 days in a row, some lucky dolt got to have sit on the high stool (which also doubled as a platform to support your a** when you were forced to wear the DUNCE CONE)and orchestrate your crown options.

It seemed like my turn would never come and that really pissed my off because I wanted attention too.

When Klecko was young, he was so different though. He was quiet and shy, more often than not he simply sat in silence and waited for the world to approach him.

I know you might think I am trying to be self deprecating to frame this story, but you can check the District #281 school records. Klecko was so introverted that he was forced to talk to adults "schools shrinks?" to found out just how retarded he was.

EVERY DAY - EVERY DAY - EVERY DAY.......I waited for my name to be called. I went over every cake and candle - color combination that you can imagine, but it was always Sally, Bill or Johnny adorning the crown.

Klecko sat in the corner, on his nap mat, silent-frustrated.....and waiting.

When you are new to the world, isn't it funny how justice and fairness seems more than "entitlement?"

The course of fairness just seems natural.

So then on a hot/steamy morning I entered into the class room, Mrs. Chili was running like a chicken with its head cut off. Our globe, building blocks and chalk were all packed into boxes.

Then out of the blue I was alerted that this would be our last day of school. Honest to Pope John Paul......could I be the only kid spaced out enough to not know?

Our class had to sit in a large circle and Mrs. Chile began telling us what grown ups do when they get into the first grade, and that's when it happened......

For the first time that year, maybe my life.....little Klecko addressed his class for the first time, and he was pissed.......

"What do you mean the last day? How can this be. I never got a birthday crown!"

I almost (but not quite) started to cry. I can still see that look of sickness on Mrs. Chili's face, the look that verified to my under qualified mind that I had been forgotten.

She responded.....

"Oh, yes class, sometimes pupils have birthdays in the summer time as well. So the best thing to honor this is by giving them their crowns on the last day!"

But she was just covering her butt. There were no precut crowns like the other kids got. She had to bust tail to construct (get this) 5 of them.

So in addition to having to share my day of attention with 4 other savages, it was the last day kindergarten, and that was a 1/2 day.

As you can tell, I've almost forgot this "minor episode" which occurred 42-43 years ago, just not quite!

But I guess that's what you get for having a July 8th birthday. case you were wondering, I opted for a Red Cake with Brown Candles.

Tips for Birthday Cakes -

# If your oven temperature is questionable, invest in an oven thermometer. Many serious cake bakers take temps in all 4 corners of their oven.
# Before mixing the batter, prepare your pan(s) and turn the oven on, make sure the rack is placed in the center of the oven.
# Shiny pans reflect the heat, and are your best choice for cake baking. If you have "Black" lined pans the cake will bake quicker.
# Reduce the oven temperature by 25° when using glass pans.
# Substitute 8-inch square pans for round if you want, or use 2 to 3 8 X 4-inch loaf pans. The baking time will be less, so begin checking about 15 minutes before the time suggested.
# Have all ingredients at room temperature for best results.
# Grease pans with about 1 tablespoon of fat per layer pan, or use an aerosol spray that contains a flour base. This works really slick.
# Use cocoa instead of flour for dusting a greased pan when making a chocolate cake.
#If Most cakes taste best on day 2 or 3, so if you are going to top your "summer" cakes with a mousse, make sure you prebake your cake (and refrigerate) several days in advance.
#To add some BANG to your cake, use clear sodas like Sprite, 7-Up or Mountain Dew. But if you are going to try this, you might want to use DIET. Your recipe should have enough sugar in it by now!


  1. loved this Klecko! I printed your tips and put them in the inside jacket of my cookbook. :)
    hugs from Bruxelles!

  2. Moxie Mama, glad to be of service. I hope Africa is treating you well!