Under Construction Cake

Do you remember counting down the days til your birthday? Yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve done that too. But every year I try to put myself back in that childhood mode when the countdown started the day after your last birthday. Turned 4 last week? You are TOTALLY almost 5. In my opinion, a kid’s birthday should be the most amazing day of their entire year. I get a little crazy at birthday time. My son’s big day just happens to be smack in between Thanksgiving and Christmas. A most inconvenient time to add a big birthday bash to our calendars. However, I recognize that this is not his fault, and so every year I attempt to make his day truly special in the midst of all the holiday bustle.

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The vacant lot next door to my son’s preschool has been under construction since the summer and he’s obsessed with what he calls tractors. I call them CAT’s. What do you call the big yellow construction equipment? Whatever you name it, my son adores it. During my daughter’s VBS in August, we stood at the chain link fence for an hour every day just watching the construction site. We saw holes being dug, a giant pile of dirt (I mean HUUUUUGE), a “tractor” push down a 70 foot tall tree and all kinds of comings and goings. The Donosaur loved it. For those of you wondering…yes, he’s wearing a rain jacket in this picture. Yes, it was taken in August. I live in Seattle. It’s how we roll.

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With the daily dose of construction, Donovan decided he absolutely HAD to do a “tractor” birthday party. So I set about to create the perfect cake for him. This is not it. No, the perfect cake would have been much more elaborate. However, the day I’d set aside to create this masterpiece of a cake was hijacked by my mortgage lender. Who, after 6 months decided to finally finish up our refinance and require me to run all over town getting cashiers checks, signatures and faxes. I had to improvise and throw together this cake, which took almost no time at all, but looked pretty cool regardless. I then spent his entire birthday beating myself up about how I didn’t make it from scratch. I know. I’m a sick person. I’m working on it. The point is, absolutely anyone can make this cake. It takes virtually zero skill.

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First, I got my friendly local grocery store to whip together a plain chocolate sheet cake with chocolate frosting. No borders, no rosettes, no nothing. Just plain chocolate frosted. And, ordered a container of chocolate frosting to go with it. I had a five pack of construction vehicles all ready to go at home as well as some sugar paper for the road. You could do the road with fondant, but that would have required me to make fondant – which I didn’t have time for. I traced two curved pieces of the road using some of my boy’s Thomas Train tracks as a guide, cut the ends ragged, then plopped them on each side of the cake. I carved out a hole with a fork and dumped the pile of frosting at the back where the two pieces of road didn’t really match up (a genius way to cover my shoddy work…if I do say so myself). Then I crumbled up some Oreos and spread them on top of the pile of frosting to look like dirt.

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To finish it off, I drew some road lines with yellow frosting, put all the construction vehicles on top and made the worst flag in the history of the world out of a square of sugar paper and a skewer. Thankfully, my little guy had no clue that Mommy felt terrible about throwing together the cake — and loved every messy morsel of it!

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Oh, and there’s this. Saw it on Pinterest and couldn’t resist adding it to the table. So fun!

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14 thoughts on “Under Construction Cake

  1. Don’t beat yourself up. It doesn’t matter how you got to the outcome it turn out wonderful! Something to be proud of and I am sure you more than made your sons birthday.

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you for such a great idea! My sons 4th is coming up and he is absolutely crazy about the diggers, tractors, trucks…anything! So this is perfect and I’ve got a whole theme a can easily “wrap a party around” ;)
    Perfect for me because I was already getting headaches thinking of how to bake a digger-shaped cake…. I prefer things quick and easy, busy enough with 3 kids :)

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