This past Saturday, my third son celebrated his fourth birthday.  We usually only do birthday parties with invitations and friends at age 5, and we’ve decided that they can have a party again at age 10, starting with Aidan who will be 10 in July.  On the years with no parties, we celebrate with the grandparents and maybe invite another family over or do a fun outing with another family.

Owen said that he wanted a LEGO® birthday, and last week I saw the perfect cake on Pinterest!

Lego Cake Fail

This awesome LEGO® cake uses marshmallows cut in half for the LEGO® brick dots.  It looked fairly easy, and with this tutorial on Betty Crocker’s website, I was pretty sure that I could pull it off!

Now first let me say that I probably shouldn’t have been so confident because I have a history of ruining birthday cakes.  On Aidan’s first birthday, I forgot to put icing between the layers.  I’ve also had layer cakes that slid apart and turned into a mess.  So I’ve pretty much given up on cute cakes, and I usually just bake a cake in a 9 x 13 pan and then ice it right there in the pan.  The only cake that has turned out “cool” was Aidan’s skateboard cake, and that was because my husband took over and did the decorating after I ruined the initial idea, which was just a basic layer cake.  (The skateboard cake was fairly foolproof, and I would actually recommend trying that one, especially if you don’t usually do “cute”).

Anyway, for the LEGO® cake, the first step was to bake a 9 x 13 cake, take it out of the pan, and then cut it into bricks when completely cool.

Here is mine coming out of the pan:

Lego Cake Fail

Yes, I DID grease the pan.  I used a good coat of butter.  But apparently, I should have floured it too.

I baked a second 9 x 13 cake with parchment paper under it.  While that one was baking, I tried to salvage some of the broken cake to make some Lego bricks.

Lego Cake Fail

Cutting the cake into bricks was easy enough, but then came the icing step.  (Feel free to laugh at this photo.  It’s okay.)

Lego Cake Fail

I was planning to do a crumb coat and then refrigerate the cake before adding another coat of icing.  But I’m pretty sure this is not what Betty Crocker meant by a crumb coat!  Chunks of the cake kept falling off, despite my careful work with my Pampered Chef spreader!

Be sure to note the ugly color of the icing.  I had already added a TON of green food coloring and was afraid of adding more because I hate my kids ingesting that much dye.

I was ready to scrap the whole project and head to the grocery store for a cake, but the second cake had come out of the oven and slid right out of the pan, and my husband didn’t think we should give up yet!  So he offered to see what he could do with the second cake.  Here’s what he came up with.  (He even froze the cake for 15 min. first (not enough, we learned) and microwaved the icing for a few seconds to soften it up!)

Lego Cake Fail

Appetizing, huh?  I think we’re ready to start a home-based bakery business!

With just a couple of hours to go until our guests would arrive, my husband ran out to the store and bought some cupcakes.  We had some LEGO® candles that I bought at Target, and Owen was completely happy with that!

Lego Cake Fail!

I think that Pinterest has really raised the bar as far as providing an image of what kids’ parties should be.  There are pins of beautiful LEGO® birthday parties all over the place, like this Lego party.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a fun themed party with decorations, but that isn’t every mom’s strong point!  Cake decorating is clearly not my gift, and we don’t have the money to do a party as elaborate as many of the ones on Pinterest, and that is totally okay!

Owen’s party consisted of hot dogs with his grandparents and some friends of our family, gifts, and cupcakes from the store.  Then the kids went out in the backyard and spent over an hour squirting each other with water guns.  We had no decorations, not even balloons (which I usually do) because we spent so much time on that silly cake, and yet Owen had a blast!  And so did his brothers and our friends!  My experience has been that kids don’t care that much about decorations.  Themed games are fun, but it’s just as fun to just get out a bucket of LEGO®’s and let the kids build!

If you’re tired of feeling inadequate because of all the beautiful things on Pinterest, you might want to check out this hilarious blog – Pinterest Fail!   Pinstrosity is another great blog.  This burning dandelion fail is a great one – have you seen the burning dandelion pin floating around?  I almost did that one with my kids!  I’m glad I didn’t!

What has been your child’s favorite simple birthday celebration?  Or the best low-key party you have attended?

LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO® group of companies which does not sponsor, authorize, or endorse this site. 



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  1. jackie May 21, 2013

    Ohhh, Sarah, I love it! I was laughing out loud by the time I got to "here is mine coming out of the pan". Thank you for sharing this very honest and hilarious story with us! Moms everywhere are going to feel the pressure let up a little when they read this!

  2. lisa May 21, 2013

    Put the cake in the freezer 15 min before decorating I had a pirate cake disaster since then I have figured out a few tricks. All the things we do for our boys...LOL!!!

  3. rebecca at thisfineday May 21, 2013

    LOL LOL LOL- I'm sorry- LOL, it's just that I TOTALLY know what you are talking about. See my 4 year old's last birthday. This year we are taking her to Disneyland and skipping the entire party! Thanks for sharing. It's nice to know I'm not alone!

    1. Sarah May 22, 2013

      Oh, wow! What a story! From the cake to the cookies and the forgotten hot dogs and sick toddler! I'm glad you can laugh about it now. Disneyland instead of a party sounds like a great plan!

  4. Teri May 21, 2013

    Great post Sarah. It made me chuckle. A few months ago, I helped organize a birthday party for a 2year old and I used Pinterest for a lot of inspiration for decorations. The theme I chose was Sesame Street, her favourite at the time and I was able to get a bunch of free ideas from the site for decorations/games.. I made a lot of the decorations by hand, while she was napping since I really enjoy crafty things like that..the baking on the other hand, would have turned out worse then yours Sarah while I enjoyed the hand-made decorations, I appreciate that not everyone has the time/willingness/talent/patience to do it and store-bought decorations are sometimes a good substitute (though some of the princess one's especially are nauseating), but like you said, it was still a great party sans balloons etc.. it's about celebrating and having fun and the people who are there with you. ox

  5. Kim B May 21, 2013

    This made me feel good because I have had my share of baking failures! I love the Pinterest fail blog! That made me laugh so hard that tears were streaming down my face!

  6. Anna - the Measured Mom May 22, 2013

    Ha! I'm a failure at decorating cakes, too - in fact I don't even try. It's my husband's job! But we never go real fancy. I'm in awe of people who will spend hours making a cake gorgeous when it's just going to be eaten! Only worth it if decorating is truly your passion, my in my opinion. We like small parties too. Thanks for a day brightener :)

  7. jc May 22, 2013

    LOL. Love it! I never decorate but did 1 themed party one year (very basic). Then the next year I just went and bought a cake. I think this year we're skipping all of that and just going out for ice cream!

  8. Julie R. May 22, 2013

    Thank you for posting this! I'm not a party planner, or a cake decorator either and I have never done themed elaborate parties for my boys. I often feel like a dumb mom because I can't do those things. Thanks for the gentle reminder that we have strengths and it's okay if we have weaknesses as well. Thanks!

  9. Sheri May 22, 2013

    Thank you for the laugh! I feel so normal now!! I totally had a similar problem w/ my 16 yr old cake (ugh) that was on the 3rd, and survived a bit better for my 5 yr olds party on the 14th. They just do.not.turn.out.well.....but still taste good, lol. Fun pics, thanks for sharing!

  10. Joy May 22, 2013

    Great story--i love Pinterest, but I don't follow any of those super-party boards--too much work when there is fun to be had instead ;) My kids had the greatest time at our Mud birthday party two years ago: my husband had to re-trench some plumbing in the front of hte house, so we carted the extra dirt to the backyard and dumped it on our grass-less dirt patch, watered well with sprinklers, and had our very own mud pit. The kids came in their grubbiest clothes, ate dino-nuggets and other kiddie finger foods in the backyard, played joyfully in the mud, and ate pudding "dirt" cake that my mom made in little tiny metal pails from Target. Best party ever.

    1. Sarah May 22, 2013

      That mud party is a great idea! Love the idea of dirt cake in little pails. SO fun - and exactly what kids would want!

  11. Donna Amis Davis Jun 6, 2013

    I love this post, as cake decorating is not my gift either. Which was a bummer living in the jungle, with no fall-backs for sad cakes. But somehow my daughter survived that and she's the one who can really make a creatively awesome cake. Yay!

  12. Leona Morales Jun 30, 2013

    I cannot thank you enough for this post. My daughter's birthday is rolling around on July 6th and I have been in a panic trying tfo come up with the "perfect" everything. Reading this post maxe me realize that it really is the simple things that make them happy. So thank you for that reminder, a birthday celebration should be to celebrate life, not our skills or the size of our wallet. :-)

  13. Cakes Brighton Jul 1, 2013

    I'm so sorry that your lego cake wasn't ideal ;) the article definitely made my day :)

    1. Sarah Jul 1, 2013

      "Not ideal" is a very kind and gracious way to describe that cake! I've learned that no one can do everything, and cakes are definitely not my thing! Ha!

  14. Helen Town Aug 17, 2013

    Awesome photos! I laughed so hard. My cakes/projects/whatever never turn out Pinterest-Perfect, but it's always worth a try for fun! Yes, Lego cakes are not as easy as they might seem. I tried that last year for my son's 5th birthday.

  15. Lora Sep 1, 2013

    I LOVED your honesty about this cake. I just came upon your site from - PINTEREST - and you are promoting PINTROSITY - I love the page because it does make us all more real.
    That cake was mostly an instructional failure. I've made about 100 cakes in about 12 months and I've learned so much. 2 things that would have helped you -
    1. a good cake recipe for cutting up and then frosting:
    2. freeze your cake a bit before frosting.

    Your colors are kinda light too - likely you were using food coloring when you kinda need to use color gel to get good colors.

    Your cupcakes were adorable and perfect. You survived but don't give up on cakes - use this recipe and you can cut ANYTHING out of a cake.

    Your blog is super inspiring. I can't wait to use your ideas to change our life!

  16. Danielle Mar 28, 2014

    I made that same cake for my son's 6th birthday. Our cake also broke coming out of the pan. I "glued" it back together with icing. I had trouble icing it too and I cried. My son said, "Don't worry Mom, it still looks good." He was happy with it. It looked nothing like the original photo.

    1. Sarah Mar 30, 2014

      Thanks for your comment! I'm so glad to know I'm not the only one! My son asked the other day, "Mom, can you try that Lego cake again sometime?" I'm thinking I'll pay someone to make it for his next birthday... I have some connections! :-)

  17. Kathleen McKayk Jun 27, 2014

    This is as good as my cake baking skills stretch too Sarah :) Thanks for an excellent share.

  18. Isabelle Jul 8, 2014

    You could try rectangle muffin tins - no cutting involved! When I do one of these cakes, I use a bread knife (serrated edge) to cut the shapes and gently remove any loose crumbs. I thin the icing with a little water and PRESS a thin layer onto the cut edges. Then I put it in the freezer for about 1/2 an hour before I do the final coat. This seems to minimize the crumb issue. Thanks for posting your "failed" results. Love the website.

  19. tove maren Mar 20, 2015

    I am in tears - this is the best cake ever. I am so sorry for your struggles, but I love that Owen was none the wiser - store bought cup cakes are delicious and can totally save the day! I applaud you for trying in the first place... and especially keeping at it for round two! Impressive.

  20. Alicia Mar 23, 2015

    Thanks for this post. It makes me feel more normal....I like creating but I have stayed away from cakes as I just know it aint as easy as it looks:?

    Thanks for about the awesome Keva/ popsticks/ chain reaction idea. I tried it with my 2 girls and even I 'failed' at that. But, I remember 'falling dominoes' from my youth and used blocks to replicate it and the girls loved that and we just improvised away and added popsticks!! Thanks

    Congrats on your new baby! Am sure she will be blessed addition to your family

  21. wedding cake toppers letters black May 8, 2015

    And of course, our colorful backpacksbaggage pieces are fun methods for kids to carry their faculty supplies or pack for sleepovers.

  22. Kim C Jul 30, 2015

    Love this post! Stuff like this happens to me all the time! LOL
    A tip about the food coloring. Skip the liquid stuff, just throw it out or use it for tie dye.
    Get you some paste food color from Wilton. You can use a Michaels coupon and get a set of several colors for
    pretty cheap. It last for years! And you only use a tiny bit each time. In fact, I use a toothpick to scoop it out
    and unless I want a pretty dark color, one toothpick full is enough. ;)

  23. Lauretta Oct 8, 2016

    I love this! ( maybe because i tried the same cake and had less than stellar results) it's sooooo good to know I'm not the only one who has had epic moments in cake making. ? fortunatly, the kids don't care nearly as much as we do.

  24. Grace Aug 12, 2018

    Try again!
    I would like to suggest: Always make the cake the day before, when it is cool, wrap it in a moisture proof plastic or container, and freeze. This cake might be more successful using loaf pans. First color your frosting with a tablespoon of jello mix, in a color/flavor you like, add more jello to get a color you like. Do not put your frosting in the microwave, instead add water to some of the frosting and put a very thin coat on your cake. Put spoonfuls of frosting on the top and sides of the cake, so that you do not have to spread the frosting too far. Can you picture that? You do not have to drag the frosting all over the cake. Frost the cake as usual. (I like to add marshmallow fluff to the frosting, it makes the frosting go further and does not seem as sickly sweet.)


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