Shaped Pans and Star Tips? You are better than that!

Ok, touchy subject coming.  Brace yourselves.  Those of you that decorate cakes, it’s confession time.  Raise your hand if you have bought a pre-shaped pan and then covered the design with star tipped icing.   Eh-hem, ma’am.  Yes, you at your computer sipping coffee.  Hand up, please.    We all have.  And what do we do with those pans that are only good for one design of cake?  Nothing!  They sit on a shelf until a garage sale takes them away.  I have done it too, people.  I did a Blues Clues cake for a friend ten years ago and her daughter was absolutely thrilled.  But the thing is, if you like decorating cakes and want to improve your skills, try sculpting a cake!  It seems daunting, I know.  But really, it just takes patience and a few extra steps.

 First, bake a cake that is the best suited to the shape you are after.  For example, this week I made a game controller cake for my son’s birthday and started with a sheet cake.  He turned 7 and we had a video game truck come to the house.  This turned out to be surprisingly easy and only took a total of 2 1/2 hours of work (not including chilling time).  I started with a 1/3 sheet cake.  You will notice it’s two different colors in the pictures and that’s because it’s 2/3 root beer and 1/3 cherry*.

 *Occupational hazard of being a cake decorator: Your children get very specific as to what they request.  Refer to my 1/2 and 1/2 post to see how to have side by side flavors.

So, turn out your cake and draw with a #3 or #4 tip the general shape of your cake.  Below is a picture of the cake after I had drawn it and started to cut.  Use a serrated knife and it will easily glide through your cake with minimal “crumbage” (that is the technical term)

dirty Ice cut out 2

Dirty Ice Cut out 3

Dirty Ice Cut Out 4

After cutting it into the general shape, then you can dirty ice it.  This is also referred to as a crumb coat.  After the initial crumb coat, you can build up the shape with the pieces you cut away.

Dirty Ice building up

In the above picture,  I have built up the back corners and iced it.  Then, I added little pieces to build up where the “joysticks” are.  I am a child of the 80’s, and back then the lever you moved around on an Atari was called a joystick so it applies here too.  Welcome to my limited knowledge of video games.   Each time you add another dimension of cake, dirty ice and smooth it again.  You may want to put it in your fridge in between steps until you get more comfortable with smoothing out your add ons.

When it’s completely crumb coated, put it in your freezer.  That will make your icing get hard enough that when you add your color, the crumb coat won’t smear into it.

Dirty ice cut out 5

Now you can add your base color!  In this case it was black.  And yes, the kids’ mouths looked hilarious.  Smooth this out all over your cake.  Then, use a flexible scraper or I even use old credit cards to smooth it down.

Iced and smoothed game controller

There it is!  You did it!  (Insert your name here) made a sculpted cake!  All that’s left is the details.  For this one, is was mostly fondant pieces and a little piping.

Game Controller Cake

If you like cake decorating, you can do this.  It will take practice and patience, but you will get there.   In the long run, you will save money by not buying so many pans!  Also, don’t think you have to cover it in fondant!  I got mine this smooth with good old fashioned butter cream.

Happy Sculpting, everyone!

Cakes for Week of 2/17/14

Eric and Ian Birthday Cake

This design is great for guys of any age!  This one was for my two guys, my husband and son.  They turned 7 and 37.  Don’t you just love how the colors pop on chocolate icing?

Sunshine and Lollipops Cake

This cake was for a My Little Pony party.  I drew on “cutie marks” all around and topped it with disco glitter.  The space on the top was so the mom could add to ponies.

Super Girly!!

KD Sandal Cake

This was a replica of a popular sports wear brand.  As boys get older, it can be harder to find a theme they get excited about.  What a great idea idea to use the logo from his favorite sandals!

This was a big week at our house!  Not only did I have two orders, but it was my husband’s and son’s birthday.  My son was born on my husband’s 30th birthday.  It has been a really special connection for them and it makes celebrating extra special.  While my husband and I work to make our son’s birthday special, our son tries hard to make it special for his dad.  He spent the entire week bringing his dad things from his room to make him feel special.  I love my guys and I love their birthday bond.

Ian and Eric with cake

The dreaded “M” word

My sister will kill me for making this post, but it has to be done.  The most important word in the cake baking world is…wait for it…MOIST.  I know, I know.  It’s an AWFUL word.  I hate it too, but it’s a necessary evil.    Nothing is worse than cutting into a beautifully decorated cake, excitedly lifting that first bite to your mouth, and it’s DRY.  Crumbly, dry cake.  BLECH!  Not on my watch, people!  Only moist cakes leave my kitchen!  And I’m here to tell you what you’ve been doing wrong that drys out your cakes.  When you set them out to cool, COVER THEM.  Don’t let all of that valuable steam drift out of your freshly baked cakes!  When you take them out of the oven, immediately cover your pans in foil and seal the sides well.  All of the steam will then settle right back into the cake…where it needs to be.  I know, I know.  I am putting some pretty mind blowing info out into the blogisphere, but someone’s gotta do it!

So,  cover your cakes people.

That is…if you want them to be

M  –  O  –  I  –  S  –  T

Cakes for week of 2/10

Cheerios Sheet Cake

This cake sure is popular for 1st birthdays!  It’s my second time doing it in less than a month!  And why wouldn’t it be the perfect 1st birthday cake?  At that age, they haven’t always gotten into a character, but what toddler doesn’t love their Cheerios?

Cheerios Smash

I have seen a lot of one year olds that don’t want anything to do with their 1st birthday cake.  But put this in front of them, and they will at least pick the Cheerios off!

Lego Cake

This was for a movie party.  Guess what movie they were seeing…

If you haven’t seen the Lego movie, go NOW.  It is absolutely wonderful.  Regardless of your age, it is laugh out loud hilarious.

Look, Ma! No fondant!

Fondant.  Love it?  Hate it?  It’s really taken over the cake decorating world.  Most of the cake shows on TV show bakers covering every cake in blankets of it.  Yes, it makes the cake look perfectly smooth when applied correctly.  But here’s the thing: Who wants to eat all of that?  Most people peel it off, taking their precious icing with it.  Not only do you have to dissect your piece in order to then eat it, but it ends up being a waste.  So, guess what?  You don’t have to cover your cake in fondant in order to get that smooth fondant look.  Use an icing scraper.  After you ice your cake, set the scraper lightly against the edge of the cake.  Spin your turn table while holding the scraper against the cake.  It takes lots of practice, but you should be able to make the sides smooth.

Scraping cake 1

After doing the sides, you can then pull the top edges across the top of the cake to smooth it down.  Pull all the edges towards the center.

Scraping cakes 2

After a lot of practice using a nice basic butter cream, you should be able to give your cakes a nice smooth service upon which to work your decorating magic!

Cakes for the Week of 2/3/14

Neon Circles CakeThis cake with matching cupcakes was for a dear friend’s son.  His only request was neon.  Bright colors and neon are all the rage again.  It’s funny since I was pretty much his exact age the last time neon was big!

Star Wars Cake

This 10 year old wanted a Star Wars cake.  His mom didn’t want intense amounts of food coloring in order to pull it off, so the colors are a little subdued.  The red is nice and dark because red icing darkens after it is mixed.  Keep that in mind when adding your red colors to icing.  It will end up being one or two shades darker than when you first mix it.  The space above his name was so the mom could add characters.  This is always an option when ordering a character or theme cake.


Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: