April 19, 2011

Naptime Baking for Birthday Celebrations {Naptime Simple Tips}

Country Cake

Strawberry Nutella Country Cake

Today I am kicking off a new series called Naptime Simple Tips. It will cover a whole range of simple cooking and food tips for all of your naptime cooking needs. This week I am all about birthdays since my husband is celebrating one shortly. In light of our impending festivities I thought it would be a great time to review naptime baking tips for birthday celebrations!

Tip #1: How to be a Naptime Celebration Baker – I am a big proponent of baking cakes, cookies, and muffins during naptime. By working while the kids are asleep, at school, or generally not around, you can concentrate on measuring ingredients precisely and don’t have to worry about little hands near a hot oven. Baking during the day also means the goods have a chance to cool completely before being iced, glazed or dusted. There is nothing worse than frosting melting off a cake because it hasn’t cooled properly! When planning your birthday baking try to carve out a little bit of time when you can concentrate on the task at hand. Ask the kids to join in the fun once you’ve decided on your baking schedule. It is important to start out with a little bit of organization so that it all will go smoothly.

Tip #2: Don’t Let Your Dust Show! – By that I mean, when greasing a baking pan butter the inside thoroughly and dust it with white flour for vanilla or yellow cakes, and use cocoa powder for chocolate cakes. Never dust the inside of a tin with white flour when baking a chocolate cake or else your cake will look dusty once it is been released from the pan! When making cupcakes use basic paper liners or parchment paper to ensure easy release from the pan. Paper liners and parchment paper do not need to be buttered or dusted.

Tip #3: Cool Those CakesIt takes a while for a cake to cool completely. When a cake pan is removed from the oven allow it to cool for at least 10 minutes in the pan before inverting it onto a wire rack. During this initial cooling period the cake will contract a little bit and pull away from the sides of the pan making it much easier to get out. Immediately prior to inverting the pan run a dull knife around the edges of the cake to make sure the sides are not attached. Then turn it carefully onto a wire rack, rap the top of the pan a few times and release the cake onto the rack. Let the cake rest for at least another hour or more before testing it with your finger to make sure it is no longer warm.

Chocolate Chip Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

Tip #4: Make Cookie Dough Ahead – Cookies can be great to serve alongside large cakes or cupcakes, especially at a large party where not everyone will be in the mood for cake. To make the cookie baking easier on yourself make the cookie dough up to three days ahead of time (during naptime!) and keep it in the fridge. Bake the cookies at least two hours before the party. Having the dough made ahead of time will be such a time saver the day of the party.

 

The Crumbs Bakery Cupcake made at home

Tip #5: Little Food for Little Mouths – It can be fun to make a towering three layer cake for a child’s birthday party, but be realistic about what they can eat. For my daughter’s very first birthday I made mini-vanilla cupcakes. The soft cupcakes were just the right size for her little little hands. For her second birthday I made a loaf of Chocolate Chip Banana Bread and served warm slices to everyone in attendance. Banana bread is one of her favorite foods so she was thrilled to have a whole loaf presented to her with a special candle in it!

Tip #6: Pies Welcome! – I learned this valuable lesson last summer when I was debating what cake to bake for my dear friend’s August birthday. After floating out several ideas she gently suggested a fresh fruit pie. It was the height of fruit season after all. Of course, I realized, pies are perfectly wonderful for birthday celebrations, especially when fresh, local fruit is in season. A big peach pie with fresh whipped cream turned out to be just the ticket for her party, everyone loved it and not a crumb was left! Last year I even went so far as to can Blueberry Pie Filling for the winter so we could enjoy fresh fruit pies all year long.

Strawberry Parfait Pie

Strawberry Parfait Pie

Some Great Naptime Birthday Baking Recipes:

Cakes:

Cupcakes:

Cookies & Bars:

Pies:

Breads: