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Do This Five-Minute Hack to Turn Any Store-Bought Cake Into a Birthday Masterpiece

When you follow these simple instructions, store-bought will be just fine.

Megan Baldwin and Sarah Burns

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Fact: store-bought cakes are delicious. Also fact: it’s a whole lot easier to buy a cake than to create one from scratch. So logically, purchasing a store-bought cake from your local grocery store makes perfect sense … until the caregiver guilt kicks in. To save you from overthinking your kid’s birthday cake this year, we’ve put together a fairly foolproof guide that will transform any old (but shelf-stable) store-bought cake into a masterpiece that your kid will never forget. When in doubt, just add more candy.

Step #1: Remove Any Gaudy Grocery Store Birthday Decorations


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Grocery store decorations are a dead giveaway that your cake isn’t a from-scratch creation, so clean off the toppers. Remove any sprinkles, colored balloons, and sad “happy birthday” messages and get your cake down to bare cake.

Step #2: Add Your Own Frosting


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Now that your cake is essentially in its birthday suit, it’s time for the frosting. Luckily, frosting is pretty much the easiest one-step, four-ingredient thing you can make from scratch. Plus, kids love frosting, so it’s a win-win. If you want to go fancy, try a chocolate ganache (which is basically a gooey chocolate frosting) or go the tried-and-true route with this classic vanilla buttercream.

1 cup (2 sticks)

Unsalted Butter, Softened

6 to 8 cups

Simple Truth Organic™ Powdered Sugar

1/2 cup

Homestead Creamery Whole Milk

2 tsp.

Pure Vanilla Extract


  1. 1.

    In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine butter, four cups of sugar, milk, and vanilla.

  2. 2.

    Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, three to five minutes.

  3. 3.

    Gradually add remaining sugar, one cup at a time, beating for about two minutes after each addition, until the icing reaches the desired consistency; you may not need to add all the sugar.

Step #3: Cover It in All the Candy


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From super-chocolatey Kit-Kat and M&M-covered confections to a super-weird Skittles and Nerds topped cake, candy makes everything (especially store-bought cakes) so much better. Pick your kid’s favorite candy (or four) and go crazy, covering every square inch with sugary treats.