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How You've Grown! Cake

What could be more appropriate than a growth chart to mark the milestone of a first birthday? Remember: Remove all decorations before serving to babies.

Lemon-butter cake

12 egg yolks
1 tsp. lemon extract
½ cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1 lemon, zested
6 cups cake or pastry flour
3 cups sugar
2 tbsp. and 2 tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. salt
3 sticks butter, softened
1½ cup whole milk

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9" x 13" x 2"pan with nonstick cooking spray and line the bottom withparchment paper. In medium bowl, combine yolks, lemon extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Set aside.

2. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into large mixing bowl. Add butter and milk; mix on low speed until batter is moist. Increase speed to medium and beat 1 minute. Add reserved yolk mixture in three batches, beating until well-combined.

3. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake about 1 hour and 30minutes, until cake is golden-brown and toothpick inserted in middle of cake comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

Yield: one 9" x 13" x 2" cake (serves 24)

Lemon filling

1 box lemon pudding mix

Make pudding according to package directions. Allow to setovernight before you use to fill the cake.

Quick lemon frosting

Tip: This frosting is best when used immediately but can be stored in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, for up to two days. Stir frosting until smooth before using.

2 sticks and 2 tbsp. butter
9 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
5 tbsp. milk
¼ tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. lemon extract
½ cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)

1. In a double boiler, melt butter. Remove from heat and stir in confectioners' sugar, milk, salt, lemon extract, and lemon juice. Return to heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes. Do not melt the sugar.

2. Remove from heat; beat until cool and thick.

Yield: 5 cups, enough to frost and decorate 9" x 13" x 2" cake

Cake assembly and decoration

Green, yellow, brown, and blue food coloring

1. Trim the top and sides of the cake so you have a flat, even rectangle. Slice the cake horizontally into two layers. Place the bottom half on a serving tray. Spread pudding filling on top. Place second layer of cake on top of that. Frost cake and then chill until icing is hard.

2. Divide remaining icing into four small bowls; add one color of food coloring to each until icing is tinted to your liking. Using a pastry bag and a plain, round tip, pipe on growth chart increments with brown icing (3, 6, and 9 months, and 1 year). Then pipe green vines winding up and around the edges of the cake. Use a leaf tip to add leaves to the vines. Then, using a petal tip, drop flower tip, and/or star tip, add flowers to the vines using the blue and yellow frosting.

Tip: If you don't have the time or tools to pipe an intricate design on your cake, try one of these shortcuts. Just remember to remove the small candies or berries, which can be a choking hazard, before serving to the kids. Pipe vines and leaves on the cake; then add fresh berries (if strawberries are too large, slice them in half). Or, use candy to create flowers. Gummy raspberries and blackberries work well, and mini jelly beans can look like flower petals. You can also cut flower shapes out of Fruit Roll-Ups or use colored nonpareils and starbursts cut into triangles to make beautiful flowers.

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