I made an epic golf birthday cake for my dad, and the photos aren’t what you typically see on the blog because we had to run outside hiding EVERYTHING when he came home early.
This is definitely the most stressful baking endeavor I’ve ever had (lesson learned – no more surprise multi layer cakes ever again).
In our Chinese culture, you celebrate milestone birthdays +1 (like many Chinese customs, I know that doesn’t really make sense), so we celebrated Dad’s 59th birthday this year like a 60th birthday. It was a huge event held at our country club, and I requested that weekend off as vacation a year in advance!
It was like a mini wedding with invitations, decorations, and of course cake. We did a golf theme since our whole family golfs, and dad is super obsessed with golfing. Mom was going to get a regular Costco sheet cake, and I told her that we needed an epic cake for Dad’s birthday, and I’d bake it no problem when I came home (famous last words).
And this entire party was going to be a surprise – Dad had no idea how big the party was going to be!
I started baking the cake over a few days at night or when dad was at work, and my sister had made tons of bars for a dessert table. We covered up for everything by saying it was for my baby shower, which was also that weekend.
Once the green icing went on, it got a little suspicious (um, yes I wanted a green cake for our baby girl, it’s a “gender neutral” baby shower cake) and Dad kept saying, “this is an awful lot of dessert for the baby shower, don’t you think?”
The day of the party, Dad was super surprised to see his siblings (my aunt and uncle) randomly arrive at the house – they had flown from California to celebrate and he had no idea! So they all went out sightseeing, which was our time to bring all the desserts, decor, flowers, and balloons to the country club to set up.
Except the cake decorating took way longer than expected – the frosting was not cooperating and I had to make way more than I anticipated. I had just finished frosting and stacking the cake layer when we heard Dad arriving home early. We all gasped in horror, and my sister, brother, mom, and B grabbed everything we could and rushed into the car.
We yelled, “See you later, Dad!” as Dad opened the door, so he came to an empty house (only Nike and her wagging tail was left to greet my very confused dad as we drove off).
I finished decorating the cake at the country club while my mom, B, and my brother and sister set up the balloons and table decor (bowls filled with water, golf balls, and flowers) in record time. I didn’t get very good pictures due to time constraints, but I’m happy with how the cake turned out!
We rushed back home, got ready, told Dad to dress nicely, and we all arrived to celebrate his milestone birthday in style!
He did not expect to see so much family traveling / flying from out of town and tons of friends (from golfing buddies to the office staff to his old classmates), so even though it started getting very suspicious the day of the party, the surprise effect was a huge success!
Frosting adapted from Allrecipes
Chocolate Kahlua Golf Birthday Cake
CAKE (one 6 inch and one 9 inch cake)
4 boxes chocolate cake mix (water, eggs, and oil as directed on box mix)
FROSTING (multiple this batch x3)
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
straws or dowels (I used straws)
2 cake boards
CAKE: Prepare the cake mixes as directed except swap half of the water for kahlua (for each of my box mixes, it called for 1 cup of water, so I did 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup Kahlua). I used 4 cake mix boxes to make one 6 inch cake and one 9 inch cake (2 layers each). Bake the cakes as directed and let cool.
Once the two cake are cooled, slice off the domes to level them. Set aside and chill in the fridge.
FROSTING: Combine the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract in a stand mixer and mix together until smooth and fluffy. Add the heavy cream to adjust the consistency and make it more liquid. If needed, add more confectioner’s sugar to stiffen the buttercream. Add food coloring (I used green gel food coloring)
Place your bottom 9 inch layer on a 8 inch cake board. Add buttercream and cherry jam and stack the second 9 inch layer. Place your bottom 6 inch layer on a 6 inch cake board. Add buttercream and cherry jam and stack the second 6 inch layer. Apply a thin layer of frosting to both cakes to make the crumb coat. Place in the fridge and chill for at least an hour.
When ready to stack your cake, take out both your 9 inch and 6 inch cake. Cut 4 straws (or dowels) to the height of your cake and place in the middle of your 9 inch cake. This is the support for the second layer so it won’t sink into the first layer. Place the 6 inch cake and cake board on top of the straws. Here is a video tutorial for stacking tiered cakes.
Frost the stacked cake with your green buttercream frosting. I made my smooth edges using a paper towel (video tutorial, go to 7:20). Place in the fridge to chill again.
Roll out your golf green using green fondant. Make a small golf ball with white fondant. Cut out a flag using red paper and tape to a a BBQ skewer. Place the green, gold ball, and golf flag on top the the cake. Enjoy!