Number & Alphabet Cakes...So Very Fun to Make!

Finally after 6 months of updating Cafe’ Hoffy, I can now start adding new posts. This post has been so much fun to write. Now on to Birthday number cakes…As I've written on my "about page", I was a cake decorator in a previous life. Now, I only do special cakes for my grandchildren. My granddaughter turned 9 this June. She's a pink girl and especially loves cupcakes. This year I decided to try making something other than cupcakes and decided on a number cake. This was so much fun to do. I checked out number cakes and desserts on Pinterest and decided to invest in a "Number"/"Alphabet Pan" made by Wilton. I also checked out some youtube videos on using the number/alphabet pan. 

Now it was time to decide what sugary confections I could place on top of the cake. That was definitely the fun part. This cake was loaded with all edible confections. From fondant hearts to pink meringue vanilla wafers. I also added fondant daisies and pretzel M&M daisies. I had plenty of dipping wafers left over to dip a lot of pretzels and place them on top of the cake also. There were also rainbow cake decorations I purchased in the birthday cake isle at Walmart and pink and gold chocolate coins that I added as an afterthought. It gave some sparkle to the already filled cake top. This was definitely a fun project.
When I first started looking for some inspiration on Pinterest, they also had cookie number cakes. The picture above shows a cookie number cake. I couldn't decide at first if I wanted to go with cake or a large cookie. In the end I decided the cake would be much better. Last year I made her a cookie cake with donut shapes on it. She also loves donuts.  So a number cake it was!
Making the cake is pretty simple. I used one boxed cake mix for making this cake. Follow the instructions on the cake box. I purchased the Number/Alphabet Pan from Amazon. You can also find it at Craft stores or online at Wilton.com. It's a great pan with many ideas...letters, numbers, and other kid friendly ideas for making birthday cakes.
Note: After I bake my cakes, I turn it out on a waxed covered cookie sheet and cover it with plastic wrap and store in the freezer until I'm ready to decorate. That's it for the cake for the time being.
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Let's start with the Fondant...
Making fondant is really pretty easy. I have used this recipe forever. This recipe is from "Make Fabulous Cakes" website. She also has a video that shows you exactly how to make it. I will include her video below the recipe.
Marshmallow Fondant
Ingredients:
1 (1 lb. or 454 gm) bag of mini marshmallows (I use the big ones...just remember to weigh them if 
     using the big ones.
2 T. water
5-6 cups of powdered sugar
1 tsp. of lemon, orange, almond or vanilla extract (optional)...I use the almond extract

Directions:
  1. Place the marshmallows in a big bowl.
  2. Add water.
  3. Microwave it for a minute. Let it rest in microwave for a minute, then microwave it again for 1 minutes.
  4. In the meantime grease a wooden spoon with shortening.
  5. Mix marshmallows until all melted and smooth. Add flavors and color if using. (I just make my fondant white and add the color I need mixing it by kneading the color into the fondant).
  6. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and mix.
  7. Add another 2 cups of powdered sugar and mix again. It will be harder to mix with a spoon at this stage. Use a scraper to get to the bits at the bottom of the bowl. Use your hands to knead the dough. (I grease my hands at this point to keep the dough from sticking to my hands). 
  8. The dough will still be sticky at this point. Add 1 to 2 more cups of powdered sugar. The amount varies depending on how sticky the dough is.
  9. I mix it in a bowl and then place it on my pie mat to knead. It's totally up to you how you want to do it. Just keep in mind you might need to grease your hands a few times.
  10. Make it into a ball shape and cover with plastic wrap and it inside a tight sealed container or baggie. Don't forget to squeeze the air out.
This recipe is enough to cover up to a 12" round cake 4" high. I have never used it on a cake. I use my fondant for making shapes, flowers and other decorations for cakes or cupcakes. Thanks "Make Fabulous Cakes" for a great recipe for fondant...and it's a lot cheaper than buying it pre-made.
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Next up is Meringue Cookies. I found this recipe also on Pinterest. The recipe comes from "That Skinny Chick Can Bake". It's a simple recipe and the meringue cookies turn out perfect. You will need a cake decorating bag with a star tip to make the cookies. This recipe makes 24 meringue cookies which is great...some leftovers for the baker to munch on...
Simple Meringue Cookies
Ingredients:
2 egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
A pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar, superfine preferred, but not necessary (I used regular sugar and they turned out great!)

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees F. Line a baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper.
  2. Place egg whites into a mixing bowl and beat until frothy. Add the cream of tartar, the pinch of salt, and beat until soft peaks form. With mixer running, slowly add sugar, one tablespoon at a time until sugar is dissolved and stiff peaks form.
  3. Pipe or scoop tablespoons of the meringue onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing approximately 2 inches apart.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes, then turn oven off. Without opening the door, et stand in oven for 1 hour (so the total time in the oven is 1 hour and 45 minutes but it's only turned on for the first 45 minutes)
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Making daisy pretzel bites are super easy to do. The one thing that is tuff. I made Brooke's cake in June. M&M pastels are only available around Easter. So if you are thinking about making these daisy bites, buy a package of them in the spring. I checked on the M&M website and M&M's can be frozen for long term storage. However they must be in an air tight container. I did find them online, however the cost was a little pricey. I now have the remainder of the bag in an airtight container in the freezer to be used at a later date. These are so fun to make. The best part is eating them. You get the sweet and salty taste in every bite.
Daisy Pretzel Bites
Ingredients:
1 bag square pretzels (Snyders of Hanover thins)- I tried using regular mini pretzels, but the M&M's 
   didn't stay on very good. The Snyder's Pretzels work the best)
1 bag plain chocolate M&Ms in springtime colors***see note above on when to buy
1 package of white candy melts

Directions:
  1. Place pretzels on a cookie sheet covered in parchment or aluminum foil.
  2. Put one candy melt on top of each pretzel
  3. Place cookie sheet in oven at 225 degrees for 2-3 minutes
  4. Place M&M's on top of melted candy melts...easy peasy!
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Once you're done making the daisy bites, you will have left over candy melts. So I decided to make coated pretzels and vanilla wafers to also put on the top of the cake. I used sprinkles (jimmys) on the vanilla wafers and colored sugar on the pretzels. I also found a variety pack of sprinkles in pink with different shapes and used them on the wafers. There's really no recipe for these, just spread the melted candy melts on the wafers and sprinkle with colorful sprinkles. As for the pretzels, just dip them and lay then on a lined cookie sheet to dry. 
I have been having issues with melting the candy melts for awhile. I finally went on youtube and found a great video on how to melt these little babies without burning or scorching them. If the heat is too high they don't coat the candies evenly and it gets really thick. Using a  microwave works much better. There is also a thinning agent called Paramount Crystals or Wilton EZ Thin Dipping Aid that helps the thinning process. Below is a video that I used to get those melts right.
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I also added small candy rainbow decorations that you can purchase from Walmart. I found them in the cake decorating section of the store. It added more color to already very colorful cake.
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Now it's time to frost that number cake. Below is my favorite recipe for buttercream frosting. I've used the same recipe, in variations, for years. It creamy and not so terribly sweet. You can even change a few ingredients around and make dozens of different flavors of buttercream.
Buttercream Frosting...the Best!
Ingredients:
1/2 c. shortening
1/2 c. margarine or butter
4 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla (I use clear vanilla to keep the frosting as white
               as it can be)
1/2 tsp. almond extract
milk   (add a little at a time to the consistency that you want

Directions:
  1. Beat shortening and margarine until the color is almost white.  This will take a few minutes
  2. Add powdered sugar slowly, vanilla, almond extract and about a scant 1/4 cup milk and beat until blended.  Add more milk to get to your consistency. Remember a little milk goes a long way.  Add milk by tablespoons.
I used this frosting on my watermelon cookies, which I wrote about in another post, 
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Well, now it's time to place all the goodies on your frosted decorated cake. My buttercream frosting is a wonderful recipe. So simple and yet so good. The directions below will give you a flawless frosted cake. Just follow the instructions.  You're number cake is just about done...
  1. After removing your cake from the freezer, remove plastic wrap and let sit on counter for about 15 minutes. The moisture from the cake being frozen will rise to the top. Wipe the cake down gently with a paper towel.
  2. Put a thin crumb layer of frosting on the cake. This will set all those pesky crumbs in place.
  3. Put your cake in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to set that crumb frosting layer
  4. Start applying the second layer of frosting. There should be no crumbs showing through because you got them in the first layer.
  5. Frost the top first. Use a cake spatula to spread the frosting.
  6. Frost all sides of your cake and use a bench scrapper to smooth out any frosting.
  7. Using your spatula take remaining frosting from sides at the top and spread evenly on the top.
  8. For the number or letter cakes make small dollops of frosting using a large #2A piping tip on the whole top to give it a look of small marbles.  See cookie cake above.
  9. Start adding all the edible goodies to the top of the cake. There is no wrong way of doing this. I placed the large items first and then the smaller ones all around the big ones.
Not that your cake will look like mine, but I think I've given a lot of people some ideas for their own number/letter cake. It's truly easy and the smiles you will get from that son, grandson, daughter or granddaughter is priceless.  I'm so glad that I have the time to make memories for the little ones now....
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I love the way it turned out. In Hindsight, I think I should have done the sides of the cake in pink rather than white. I think it would have stood out more. If I have the opportunity to make another one, I will definitely color the sides and then put the white piping around the base.
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If you enjoyed this post, I hope you will stop by and see more Cafe' Hoffy posts. If interested, just click on the "More Recipes" or "More Crafts" for more great ideas and recipes that you might enjoy.
Here are a few samples of other Cafe' Hoffy posts to enjoy!

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Pinterest is the place for DIY's, instruction, applications, patterns, recipes, clothing...you name it, and Pinterest has it. Last night I was with my daughter for dinner and she was telling me that her husband has great Pinterest boards! Pinterest is for everyone. The largest magazine ever created. If you liked this post on number/alphabet cakes visit my "Cake Board" or my "Decorated Cake Board" for everyday  and celebration cakes.

The key to great boards on Pinterest is to categorize them in a way that works for you. I recently recategorized all my boards and now am able to find that one particular pin very quickly. If you would like to check out my "Other Boards" and how they are categorized, just click on my picture below and you will be redirected to my "Saved Boards"...
Here are a few Pinterest Pins that I think relate to my post on number/alphabet cakes. They are so beautiful and might give you some inspiration for a special cake for someone in your family.
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Beautiful, whimsical, yummy cakes for special people in your family. I do hope you enjoyed this post. I truly enjoyed making my granddaughter's 9th Birthday Cake. It turned out great. The best part...you could eat everything that was on the cake along with the cake itself...until next time...
Always remember..."Life's short, eat dessert first!"...words to live by!