And It Was All Yellow

My youngest daughter turned four on April 3rd and when I asked her what she wanted for her birthday she said she wanted to be there, and have a yellow cake. I assured her she would certainly be invited to her own birthday and I would happily make her a yellow cake!

I know Grey’s Anatomy fans love the idea of me being a baker like my character Izzie Stevens, but it’s never really been my forte. I’ve struggled to get the consistency of my batters right, my cakes baked to a nice golden brown, or my breads to rise, and all that struggle was at sea level in Los Angeles. Once I moved to Utah, the altitude proved too hard for me to conquer! I gave up completely after making a birthday cake for Josh that came out as dense and heavy as a rock! So though I assured my baby girl I’d make her a cake, I couldn’t help but think I better purchase a back up from the store just in case!

Adalaide’s birthday dawned sunny and warm, a nice break from the snow and hail we’d recently had, and my hopes were high that I would finally conquer a birthday cake! I sat in the kitchen for an hour debating weather or not to make the batter from scratch and finally decided to let myself off the hook with that one. Though I thought about buying a back up cake, I didn’t out of a foolish sense of cake confidence, so I really didn’t have any room or time to fail. I used two boxes of Betty Crocker lemon cake mix and once I had the batter all mixed up, divided between three 8 inch cake pans and in the oven, I set about making the frosting.

Katherine Heigl Frosting Daughter Adalaide's Birthday Cake

I started out with just a few tiny blossoms
Naleigh & Adalaide Watch Mom Katherine Heigl Frosting A Birthday Cake

Then added a few more

Last fall I started playing around with my Williams-Sonoma Mechanical Pastry Bag (which sadly is no longer available) and had so much fun decorating cupcakes (again I used Betty Crocker for the actual cupcakes, I cannot tell a lie) that I decided to break it out for Adalaide’s cake. Having experimented with different frosting consistencies with cupcakes I had learned the thicker the better when it comes to piping anything out of a pastry bag.

I chose a Swiss Meringue Butter Cream Frosting I found on the Food Network and though it looked simple at first it was a little bit tricky. As I was whisking the crap out of the egg whites and sugar over a simmering pot of water hoping the egg whites wouldn’t curdle I kept putting out "perfect frosting" intentions into the universe and it worked! The frosting turned out better than I imagined and was so insanely good I couldn’t stop tasting it. I added ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract for a hint of flavor and about 30 drops of yellow food coloring gel to achieve a pale yellow hue for the base of the cake. After I got the right color down, I put the mixing bowl of frosting in the fridge to chill while I dealt with the cake.

Once I pulled the cakes out of the oven I let them cool in their pans and then cool some more on a wire rack. I then had Josh help me level the tops of them with a large serrated knife. I didn’t trust myself not to ruin them at the leveling stage! I then wrapped the cakes individually in two layers of plastic wrap and stuck them in the freezer for an hour to cool them off completely. When the hour was up I pulled the cakes and frosting out and did a quick crumb layer. I then put everything back in the refrigerator for another hour. Once that hour was up the cakes and I were ready to start decorating!

Katherine Heigl Frosting Daughter Adalaide's Birthday Cake

And some more

I don’t have all the right tools to achieve a perfectly smooth frosting finish but I did my best with the flat metal frosting spatula I do have. It took a while and my OCD was raging but I finally got it to a point where I was happy with it.

I decided to pipe tiny flowers on the cake and wanted them to be several shades darker than the frosting base so I added the rest of the food coloring gel to the remaining frosting and got lovely bright canary yellow. I had planned to just do a smattering of flowers across the top and down one side of the cake but I got carried away! I kept thinking the cake needed more, and then more, and then more until finally the whole thing was pretty much covered in tiny yellow blossoms.

Katherine Heigl Frosting Daughter Adalaide's Birthday Cake

When is enough, enough?

I was running out of frosting by this point and still had a couple blank spaces on the top and sides so I threw in a couple of big roses and used Williams-Sonoma Luster Pearl candies to fill in the rest. Yes, I was crazy enough to put each pearl on individually with tweezers, insane, I know. It turned out pretty cool if I do say so myself, though next time I’ll try to keep it a bit simpler!

The best part about the cake was that Adalaide loved it so much she ate a piece for breakfast the next day and even wanted a piece for dessert the following night. Finally! Cake success! Maybe there’s a little Izzie in me after all!

Adalaide Enjoying Her Very Yellow Birthday Cake

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  • christina Crispell Welch

    Katherine I love your blog! I thought I would share our family favorite Chocolate Cake Recipe!! Once you try it will become your family favorite. I also am an author of Creating Family Traditions Cookbook Christina Crispell.
    Dark Chocolate Decadent Cake Recipe: 2 C. sugar, 1 C. milk, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 C. oil, 1 3/4 C. flour, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tsp. almond extract, 3/4 C. dark chocolate hershey cocoa, 2 eggs, 1 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 C. boiling water (for a richer chocolate taste subsitute the boiling water for 1 c. of fresh brewed coffee).

    1. Combine sugar, flour, cocoa, bakig soda, baking powder, and salt.
    2. Add in the eggs, milk, oil, vanilla and almond extract and beat for 2 minutes.
    3. Add in the boiling water.
    4. It will look like there is way too much water that it won’t turn out right. Stop stressing it is supposed to look like this. It makes the cake super delicious!
    4. Pour the batter evenly into two round cake pans.

    Bake 350 for 35 minutes. Insert a toothpick to make sure it is cooked. You will need to increase the temperature for higher elevations.

    April 11, 2016 at 1:20 pm Reply
  • Janet

    Love how real you are. Thanks for your blog! Love it!

    April 11, 2016 at 2:12 pm Reply
  • Brittany

    You are a great baker though! The cake is beautiful and I love ur hair ❤️

    April 11, 2016 at 2:24 pm Reply
  • Laura W

    The fact that she wanted to be there at her own birthday is the cutest thing ever!!! The cake is beautiful! I think that if you’re going to go fancy with the decorating, it’s totes ok to use a pack for the cake part and I have done that many times. My mother might argue that nothing beats a homemade cake though. Ha ha. I don’t love cake, but I’d eat a slice of that lemony looking goodness in a heartbeat. Great job, Mama. xo Ps: I miss Izzie Stevens.

    April 11, 2016 at 4:20 pm Reply
  • Rose

    I’m glad Adalaide loved her cake!! I love how real you are with your blog , because you could have just told us that you made it from scratch and we would ave never known that it was out of the box.

    I’m with you on not being a baker, I’ve never been a fan of it. My problem is that there no leeway in backing you have to make it exactly right or else it doesn’t come out right. Unlike cooking where you can put in of taking things out according to your mood or taste and still have it come out perfect unlike backing. I do love to decorate already baked goods though.

    April 11, 2016 at 4:50 pm Reply
  • Beverly vonderstuck

    Aww that was so nice of you. I loved reading this you are my favorite actor and i just love reading about things you do. Thanks for sharing.

    April 11, 2016 at 5:55 pm Reply
  • Janis

    What a fun post and fun way to celebrate your daughter’s birthday! My son has a peanut allergy so getting bakery cakes is not an option for us. I’ve tried making his last two cakes (he’s 3 years old) and it is much harder than one would think! So I am impressed by your baking and decorating skills! Well done.

    April 11, 2016 at 7:47 pm Reply
  • Juan Mauricio Contreras

    Que maravilloso compartir con nuestros niños, que sin ser costosas nos servirán para reforzar vínculos, entretenerlos y compartir agradables momentos que marcarán su desarrollo de manera positiva.

    April 11, 2016 at 8:11 pm Reply
  • Chris Mott

    Great cake. She loves that you took the time to make the cake for her. Clearly a success. Love your short hair do! Love your blog too. You are so down to earth and love the new video that you did with Josh. You all are an awesome couple!

    April 11, 2016 at 9:17 pm Reply
  • Melinda Diaz

    As a cake decorator myself,I have to say I think you did a fantastic job. Your cake is beautiful and it’s even more special cause it was made with that special ingredient…Love.

    April 11, 2016 at 10:29 pm Reply
  • Riane

    This is such a beautiful cake, and it looks so delicious.
    You were also a baker in “Life as we know it”, I love this movie so much.
    I love your blog, Katherine.

    April 11, 2016 at 11:41 pm Reply

    You rock!!!
    what you are planting now investing this beautiful and sweet time with your family, will echo in eternity. You will see the fruits of your acts of love. May God bless and prosper your family and your way.

    Rebeca Kessler
    Brazil/ Rio de Janeiro

    April 12, 2016 at 5:10 am Reply
  • Maria

    As a cake decorator, there is nothing more awesome than a mommy making her babies their cake. The cake came out lovely, but if OCD is looming, frost the cake, put it in the fridge for 30 minutes uncovered, take it out, and put more frosting on top and smooth everywhere using a spatula dipped in hot water. Colder icing is a little easier to work with. I love the colors you used! Maria Moyers, Houston TX Crave In A BoxHappy Birthday Adelaide!

    April 12, 2016 at 5:33 am Reply
  • Yeshmin Jugdiswar

    Hi Katherine

    Absolute fan of yours all the way from South Africa, love your movies, and simply love your blog. You are such an inspiration not only to me but my daughter as well. We love your energy and always in such high sprites.

    April 12, 2016 at 6:45 am Reply
  • Vicki B

    Beautiful cake for a beautiful little girl! She’ll remember you making this for her all her life. Ya wanna learn to bake by the best cake and bread lady? A bunch of us have baked through her Heavenly Cakes book and now onto her Baking Bible with a few working through The Bread Bible, but we only bake one recipe a month out of that. One of the gals lives at a high altitude in Colorado and adjusts the recipes. We all are linked together on a master blog Working our way through these books has been like going to culinary baking school.

    April 12, 2016 at 6:19 pm Reply
  • Syuzanna

    I truly enjoy your down to Earth, beautiful pure soul! Your devotion, love, positive energy is inspiring and that’s why I decided to follow your blog and enjoy wisdom shared!

    April 12, 2016 at 8:14 pm Reply
  • Sharon

    Before you posted the picture of this beautiful cake, I thought you might do cup cakes. I am not a big cake fan, pie for my BD. But, I would sure enjoy this with a cup of coffee.

    April 12, 2016 at 10:38 pm Reply
  • Géraldine Bodart

    Thanks for sharing. Your birthday’s cake is awesome. You’re an inspiration because you’re real and human. You try and make mistakes like everyone else and you don’t be discouraged by the difficulty.
    I love your blog.

    Géraldine, France

    April 14, 2016 at 9:46 am Reply
  • Jodie Cooper

    Katherine, I love your blog! I have been following your Instagram as well and I have to say that your life is truly #lifegoals. You recently inspired to make a lifestyle blog of my own, and I’m having so much fun with it so far. If it turns out half as good as yours, I know it was a success! Thanks for this!
    Love, an everlasting Grey’s Anatomy fan

    April 15, 2016 at 1:47 am Reply
  • Kelly Clark

    My partner and I would love to adopt children one day soon. You are an inspiration. I love how your daughter said that along with a yellow cake she: “wanted to be there.” What a beautiful, innocent soul. Beautiful cake too!

    April 16, 2016 at 1:58 am Reply
  • Tiffany

    The cake turned out beautiful! Love all the flowers. Also, I love your hair. I love to bake, but last year I told myself that if I have to buy a cake.. It’s ok. Sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves. I’ve started to realize this as I get older.

    April 21, 2016 at 5:15 pm Reply
  • Denise

    Amazing! You did a great Job with your cake. Your daughters smile is the proof.

    April 22, 2016 at 4:00 am Reply
  • Rachel

    Absolutely gorgeous! It looks like it came from a bakery. Nice job mom!

    June 24, 2016 at 1:18 am Reply
  • Kimberly Swindle

    I absolutely LOVE your blog! Thank you for giving us a little peek into your life. You are so crafty and talented!

    January 19, 2017 at 3:42 pm Reply
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