Peanut Butter and Jelly Granola Cups
Mix-in-the-Pan Cake

It's My Birthday

by Helen Oxenbury

It's our birthday! Off the Shelf began one year ago this week with Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten. Over the last year we've cooked, created, and played with 38 books, and we're celebrating this week with with Helen Oxenbury's It's My Birthday.

This sweet story focuses on friendship, cooperation and sharing all in honor of a very special day. The child in the story sets out to bake a birthday cake and a parade of animal friends pitch in to lend a helping hand. Timeless, cheery, and a fun cumulative story that will inspire a celebration any time this book is pulled off the shelf. The pencil and pale wash illustrations are beautiful and offer fun details to contribute to the humor of the tale. 

In this Issue


Mix-in-the-Pan Cake

Mix-in-the-Pan Vanilla Cake - It's My Birthday - Helen Oxenbury - Off the Shelf

You've probably heard of one bowl cake recipes, but have you ever heard of one mixed right in the baking pan? King Arthur Flour's newsletter, the Baking Sheet, featured just this kind of recipe in their Autumn 2012 issue, and it seemed perfect for this simple, sweet story of It's My Birthday. 

To make it extra special we topped ours with a banana chocolate glaze, made from only mashed bananas, cocoa, and lemon juice. 


Mix-in-the-Pan Cake 


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 cup milk
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In an 8-inch round or square pan, combine flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. 
    Mix in the Pan Vanilla Cake - It's My Birthday - Helen Oxenbury - Off the Shelf
  2. Stir in the oil, vinegar, vanilla, and milk until well mixed. 
    Mix in the Pan Vanilla Cake - It's My Birthday - Helen Oxenbury - Off the Shelf
  3. Bake for 30 minutes, until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.
    Mix in the Pan Vanilla Cake - It's My Birthday - Helen Oxenbury - Off the Shelf 
  4. Allow to cool completely before topping with glaze. 


Banana Glaze


  • 1/2 banana
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  1. In a bowl mash the banana with lemon juice. 
  2. Stir in powdered sugar and cocoa until smooth. 

Mix in the Pan Vanilla Cake - It's My Birthday - Helen Oxenbury - Off the Shelf


Cake Top Collage

Cake-Top Decorating Collage - It's My Birthday - Helen Oxenbury - Off the Shelf

Create a work of art that looks good enough to eat! Young pastry chefs can scour your shelves of art supplies and find just the right ingredients to decorate a “cake” that will never go stale.

Cake Top Collage

Suggested Supplies

  • Cardboard
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Construction paper
  • Hole punch
  • Tissue paper
  • Pompoms
  • Glue
  1. Cut a round piece of cardboard to be the cake top.
  2. Paint the cardboard to resemble an iced cake. Allow the paint to dry.
  3. Use the hole punch to make “sprinkles” for the cake. (Using the hole punch is good for fine motor skills.)
  4. Glue the “sprinkles” on the cake.
  5. Cut pieces of tissue paper and crumple into balls then glue to the cake top.
  6. Glue pompoms to the cake top.

Related Posts: Try our Make Way for Ducklings-inspired Quack Quack Collage


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