A Birthday Cake for the Birthday Girl

So, in order to save money, I decided that I would make the cake for baby girl’s birthday party instead of ordering one.  And to make it easier on myself, I decided that the cake would come from a box.  I would make the frosting homemade but the cake would be as easy as possible.

This plan was mostly fine.  The back half of the cake completely caved in and had to be “glued” back into place with frosting.  The garland that I made to go on the cake had to be redone.  But other than those issues, it wasn’t too bad.

The banner started off pretty easy.  Simply cut out a bunch of circles in whatever color(s) you like.

Circles.  Lots of circles.

Circles. Lots of circles.

Then, figure out how you are going to attach your circles.

Originally, I thought it would be easiest if I simply glue to the circles onto the ribbon.  However, the glue made it top heavy and instead of hanging  like a banner, the top part kept falling over.

Originally, I thought it would be easiest if I simply glue to the circles onto the ribbon. However, the glue made it top heavy and instead of hanging like a banner, the top part kept falling over.

After I scrapped the idea of gluing the garland pieces on, I grabbed a needle and some thread and simply strung the circles onto the thread.  I think that this actually worked better than the gluing idea because you can barely see the tape holding the thread onto the white sticks.  I would’ve had to figure out what to do with the ends of the ribbon once I had them attached.  The thread was easily cut and then ends were easily hidden.  (I used sticks that are used in candy making).

Cake!  And you can hardly see where the cake is caving in on the back.

Cake! And you can hardly see where the cake is caving in on the back.

When The World Gives You Too Much Frosting….

When the world gives you too much frosting, you should make sandwiches.



Frosting sandwiches were one of my favorite parts of making cookies when I was younger.  Mom would always have extra frosting after all of the cookies were frosted.  Sure, you could just grab a spoon and dive in.  But that’s just kind of lazy.  So, most times, mom would grab some saltine crackers and make sandwiches.

After I took my cake decorating classes, I had three containers of frosting left in the fridge.  I am not really in a hurry to do any cake decorating any time soon, so it looks like I’ll be making sandwiches fairly frequently.

Grab some frosting....

Grab some crackers....

Frosting + crackers = delicious

Delicious. delicious. delicious.

Cake Decorating Class – Session #4 – Final Class

So, my class was usually on Mondays but my instructor had to reschedule for Tuesday. That should’ve been fine except that I waited until Monday night to 1) bake the cake 2) make the frosting 3) fill the cake 4) frost the cake. Not a very good idea.

This was actually a lot more stressful than cake should be. I got a mix from Betty Crocker and I’m really thankful that I did. Making a cake from scratch would not have fit into my Monday night.

For this cake, I decided to fill it with fresh strawberries.


Delicious, completely out-of-season strawberries!

Good idea, right? I thought so until I started actually frosting the cake and the strawberries were literally jumping out of the cake. And I did exactly what I was supposed to do. As you can see in the pic below, I put a double border on the outside of the cake to hold the fruit in. That border did not hold.

Stupid border.

Then, I realized that this was the most crumby cake that I’ve ever made. Seriously. Crumbs were everywhere. I tried to clear them off but that didn’t actually work. There are tons of crumbs in my icing. Oh well. This final cake isn’t actually for a grade. I reminded myself of that for several hours on Monday.

Stupid crumby cake....

I decided on my final decor for the cake while I was baking it.  There are two cakes in the lesson plan book that I decided to combine.  Flowers.  Polka-dots.  What’s not to love, right?  I also wanted to use the hot pink color that I bought after my first class and perhaps use up some of my icing from last week’s class.  So, I also brought in my light pink, green and white from last week.

Once we finished learning lettering and a new flower, it was time to get started on our cakes.  As we were working throughout the class, I decided to just use one color – hot pink.  And this pink was definitely hot pink.  Under the fluorescent lights of the classroom, I swear this cake looked like it could glow in the dark.  I added the new rose that we had learned earlier that night to the cake.  I then added dots for my borders.  As a final step, I added in some dots on the sides.  (This also helped to cover up imperfections.)


I’ve got to say, this is a great cake!  It really turned out nicely.

Beautiful cake!

As with the rest of my classes, I brought my project to work the next day.  Everyone that I talked to said that they absolutely loved it.

My favorite quote for the day?  “When I heard that this was your last class, that was the saddest thing I heard all day.”

Cake Decorating Class – #3

So, yesterday I had my third cake decorating basics class. It went really well except that by the end, my hand was exhausted. It is kind of like when I was learning how to knit. Muscles that have never worked in a certain direction are being forced to do work that they’ve never done for hours at a time. I am not a professional cake decorator. However, not that I’ve gone this far I can honestly say, professional cake decorators must have the most amazingly fit arms!

After all of the recent baking that I’ve done, I decided to take it easy for class.  I got some help from Betty Crocker.  And I’m thinking that I’ll do the same for my final cake next week.

As you have guessed from the photos, last night’s class was all about cupcakes.  Yummy yummy cupcakes.  I think that they all turned out rather nicely.  The photo made the color look a little weird because the cupcakes with the small white flowers were actually violet.  The photo looks like they were some kind of brownish purple shade.

Yum. Yum. And yum.

The little white flowers are my new favorite.  They turned out really nicely.  And I learned that making leaves out of frosting is actually fairly easy.  We learned three different types of leaves.  They all look pretty similar.

The blue flowers are a little weird looking.  My frosting was definitely too thick so they didn’t come out the way that they are supposed to.  Ryan said that they were really cute sea anemones.  So, I know that if I am ever going to do an ocean themed cake, my sea anemones are going to be awesome.

Lots and lots of cupcakes

I brought all of the cupcakes to work.  They were completely gone in a couple of hours.  I thought that they turned out really nicely.  I guess everyone else thought that, too.

Baking My Way Through Baked – The Ninth Recipe

For my next Cake Decorating Basics class, I needed to bring one cake with my choice of filling. I happened to have a jar of lemon curd in the fridge and thought that a lemon cake might be nice. Luckily, Baked has a recipe for Lemon Drop Cake that I decided to bake for this assignment.
For class, I needed to bring my “class icing” and one layer cake. This cake bakes in three separate pans, so I would have extra to enjoy at home. Since I had to bring in my “class icing” I wasn’t going to make the lemon drop frosting. However, I planned on making a batch of the lemon curd filling for this recipe to use on the one cake layer that would stay at home.

This was a very easy cake from beginning to end.  Since I don’t actually bake a lot of cakes (I frequently make cookies or pies instead) I had kind of forgotten just how simple a cake can be.

The batter was very light and smelled faintly of lemons (the batter has lemon zest in it).

Light and lemony batter

The cakes are ready to go to class

I brought all three layers to my class just in case I would need them.  I only ended up using one.   And, it’s not so bad for my first real attempt at decorating a cake.

Here fishy, fishy, fishy, fishy, fishy..... Bonus points if you know the Sesame Street character that yells that while fishing.

I brought the decorated cake to work with me and put it in the break room with a note asking people to eat it.  A coworker said that she loved the lemony taste in the cake and that she loved my decorating.  She also said that it would be great for a wedding cake.  I’m assuming that she meant that it would be great for a wedding cake if it didn’t have a fish covering the top.

I assumed that most of the strong lemony flavor would come from the lemon curd and the lemon curd frosting.  I fully intended to make the curd and frosting some time during the week.  However, as the week went on, I came to the conclusion that I would not actually be making the lemon curd or the lemon curd frosting.

You know when you have one of those weeks?  When you don’t want to do a single thing when you get home?  Well, that was this week.  When I actually felt ambitious enough to make some curd, that feeling lasted only about two minutes.  So, I decided to just let this one go.  And I am certain that this cake will be just fine without fancy homemade curd and fancy homemade curd frosting.  I am also certain that if I eat a piece for breakfast each morning that I will eventually finish off all of the cake.

Plus, after you’ve had one of those weeks, is there any better way to start you day than with a big piece of cake?

Cake Decorating Basics class – Session 2

The last class dove a little further into cake decorating by actually allowing us to decorate an actual cake. I brought in my Lemon Drop Cake and was really excited to learn some icing techniques beyond the stars that we learned in our first session.  We worked on filling techniques, frosting the outside of the cake, squiggly lines, borders, dots, and transferring images onto the cake.

I didn’t bring any small containers to mix colors in so my cake is all white.  Yes, the fish would look totally cute in a bright blue or green but I’m happy to know that it looks like a fish.

For my first actual attempt at decorating a cake, I’m pretty proud of the results.

Oh, and the cake?  I took it to work and put it in the break room so that my coworkers would eat it.  And that was a definite success.

Cake Decorating Basics Class – Session #1

So, as you already know, I signed up for a couple classes at Jo-Ann after Christmas. After the crochet class, my next was Cake Decorating Basics class. I’ve got to tell you, you should take this class. I have no idea if it’s the teacher, the materials, or if I have some actual talent for it, but this was really fun. The first session actually flew by really quickly. And I learned a lot! Seriously.

The finale for the first session was decorating cookies using “stars.” I’m super excited about the next session already as we will be decorating and filling our first cake. Woo-hoo!

Yum! Frosting!

Christmas cookie extravaganza – Sugar Cookies

The next cookie on the extravaganza list was Ryan’s request – sugar cookies.  Since the other cookies that I was going to make were going to take quite some time, I decided to cheat a little bit.  My sugar cookies were going to come from the tube.  I can already hear people saying out loud “But, sugar cookies are easy to make!  They hardly take any time at all!!” I think that this stems from the fact that for me, the whole point of sugar cookies is getting to the decorating of the cookies.  That’s where all of the time should go.  So, we have frosting that I will dye in lots of different colors.  The grocery store was out of many of the normal types of sprinkles, so Ryan bought me a big jar of Winnie-the-Pooh sprinkles!

So, I encountered a problem fairly early with these cookies.  There is just something weird about the dough I used.  It was sticking to everything!  I had flour everywhere.  The rolling pin?  Covered in flour.  The table?  Covered in flour.  The dough?  Covered in flour.  Me?  Covered in flour.  And yet the dough just kept sticking.  So, I had a difficult time getting all of the dough to hit the same width.  Some cookies are just going to end up being fatter than others.

The second problem happened involved my cookie cutters.  I don’t know if the cookie cutters weren’t defined enough or if the dough just wasn’t cooperating but everything came out looking like a blob.  So, we have Christmas tree blobs, snowmen blobs, and little people blobs.

Once the cookies had cooled, it was time for the really fun part.  I have never thought of myself as a decorator and most of the cookies that I decorate are actually just a pile of frosting on top of a cookie.  (Although who can really complain about a pile of frosting on top of a cookie?  Mmmmmmm.  Frosting.)  So it should come as no surprise that some of the blob cookies look like blob cookies with a blob of frosting on top.Some of the cookies do, actually look kind of cute.  The Winnie-the-Pooh sprinkles look pretty great on the Christmas tree blob cookies. In fact, the Winnie-the-Pooh sprinkles don’t really look like Winnie-the-Pooh characters.  They really do look more like different colored blobs.  So, it’s actually very fitting.

Frosting: the ultimate accessory

I made a couple dozen cupcakes for Ryan’s birthday.  I had guessed that he would want creamcheese frosting (because he loves creamcheese frosting) so I assumed that he would want red velvet cake.  I automatically think of red velvet cake when I think of creamcheese frosting.  But, no, he wanted a basic yellow cake.  And he wanted chocolate creamcheese frosting not regular creamcheese frosting.  That’s when the thought hit me.  Frosting really is the ultimate accessory.  Without frosting, cake in a cupcake liner is really just a sweet muffin.  It’s the frosting that sets cake apart from other baked goods.  And yes, I know that there are plenty of cakes out there that aren’t typically frosted.  But even these generally have some sort of accessory to decorate the top like powdered sugar in delicate lace patterns.  (But come on, frosting is far superior to a sprinkling of powdered sugar.)

Thinking of frosting as the ultimate accessory also made me ponder how frosting can change the taste of an entire cake.  A plain yellow cake is going to taste very different if it has been covered with a rich dark chocolate frosting than if it has been covered with a light vanilla buttercream.

I feel that there is a cupcake marathon in my near future.  Mixing-and-matching cupcakes and frosting flavors?  That sounds like a perfect way to spend a Saturday.