Archive for the ‘cake decorating’ Category

Our son loves Minecraft.

A lot.

So it was not a surprise that he asked for a Minecraft-themed cake for his birthday. Note: his birthday was during the summer; I’m just now getting my act together to post about this cake. It came out so well that I definitely still want to share it!

When we asked him what sort of Minecraft cake, I was expecting him to ask for a scene or a creeper (or both). Instead, he asked for a grass block! He wanted the brown parts to be chocolate and the green to be mint. Challenge accepted.

I baked the cakes and mixed up frosting– I baked two square chocolate cakes, which we trimmed down so that we could make four layers. The top and bottom layers are solid squares; the middle two layers are made from the offcuts stacked perpendicular to each other. We used chocolate frosting between the layers.

Husband did all of the outside work! Of course, we waited until late at night to begin the frosting process, and I was so wiped out that all I could do was offer some suggestions. Husband did an absolutely amazing job. He figured out that he could cut a cardstock template for the grass detail on the sides of the block.

Husband took it one step further and did some sugar work to create the new growth that would occur if the block is sprinkled with bonemeal in the game. I really think this is such a showstopper!

It was so fun to see how completely delighted our son was about his cake! (and it tasted pretty delicious, too!)

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My daughter’s birthday cake theme this year was inspired by the trip to Disney World we’d made a couple weeks beforehand. I was glad that we came up with an idea to make it happen, since I’d only been thinking of our trip and then the preparations for our Thanksgiving week at home; I hadn’t fully processed that her birthday was soon afterward!

We had the chance to see princesses on their float in Magic Kingdom and on a carriage in Epcot, and both of us are pretty big princess fans! When we got home, she told me that she wanted a princess cake. I wanted to use ingredients we already had on hand, so this is the idea I came up with: nine 3-D princess icons made from homemade marshmallow fondant on a blue (her choice! it matched her Mickey band color–both for our most recent trip but also for our 2016 trip) frosted cake.

I used a marshmallow fondant recipe from Spruce Eats— it’s a very straightforward recipe and I had everything on hand. I had an adventure trying to figure out how to sculpt the nine princess icons– I used V’s beloved old princess cupcake game (aff. link) for inspiration for some of the shapes. In the end, I’m pretty pleased with how they came out!

I like how the all-white icons on a colored frosting made for an elegant look– rather than being too little-girly, it was a more grown up cake for my NINE year old! (holy moly, how is she nine already?!!?)

P.S. Perhaps I also loved this cake design so much because it reminds me of our wedding cake!

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I can’t believe that my little girl is seven years old!

This year, she asked for a strawberry-flavored cake topped with butterflies– specifically pink, blue, purple, and yellow ones.  Other than that, her description of the cake she wanted was fairly vague, so I developed my own design…and decided (as usual) to make it as complicated as I could in the time that I had.  Haha.

Using the Wilton recipe for royal icing, I spent about 45 minutes piping lacy butterflies ahead of time so that they would have time to fully dry…

They turned out really well, but my downfall was having to transport them to another state to assemble the cake!  They are fairly delicate, and I didn’t pack them carefully enough.  Thankfully, I had enough that survived to put together a pretty cake design in the end.


I frosted the entire cake with white buttercream, then used green buttercream and a grass tip to make grass over the entire top and also around the base.  I added some royal icing flowers that I had stored away, and finally attached the butterfly wings so that they stood up off of the cake like they were fluttering.




It was exciting to see my daughter’s happy face when she first spotted the cake.  She told me later that it was even better than what she had been trying to describe to me.  I’ll call that a success!


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For months, my little boy has been talking about how he wanted a Star Wars cake!  He is completely into Star Wars– the ships, not the characters.  So when we started trying to figure out a cake for his fourth birthday, we decided to go with a space background and ships on top.


This was definitely a learning experience for me!  I looked up lots of ways to get black frosting…and I definitely didn’t want a funny aftertaste or green teeth as a result!  My research led me to the solution to make Hershey’s Special Dark frosting (it’s a buttercream type) and then add some black Wilton’s food dye gel to darken it from there.  By starting with an already-dark frosting, it only took a couple blobs of gel to get it as dark as I wanted.

For the galaxy/nebula haze effect, I used shimmer powder and fine edible glitter.  After the frosting crusted over a bit, I brushed the powders on with a paintbrush.  I tried to use several colors, but they weren’t terribly vivid (and even harder to capture in photos!).  I LOVE the shimmer effect, though!




Husband and I chose two different types of sprinkles to make the stars: some large sugar crystals and some tiny pearls.  I think the two different types give the effect of close and far stars.


I decorated a practice cake the weekend before B’s birthday.  Since our kitchen is being renovated this summer, we spent a few weekends at my parents to escape the chaos.  My dad made his favorite chocolate cake, and I tried out the black frosting and space decorations.  A friend had given me a Star Wars cake kit with BB-8, so we used him on this cake.


Based on this cake, I decided to do the galaxy/nebula effect in a swirl/streak shape rather than cloudy areas.

For B’s “official” cake (on his birthday), we were at Husband’s parents house, so his mom made the cake for me to frost.  We had Star Wars starships (made by Hot Wheels, affiliate link to a similar set HERE; bonus that they are actual toys that became part of his birthday gifts!) that Husband placed on top of the space background, and we added four candles for the birthday boy to blow out!



I think my Star-Wars-vehicle-loving little boy loved his birthday cakes!

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Even though I knew it was coming up, somehow V’s 6th birthday still snuck up on me!  For the two weeks prior, I was quite busy with a lecture for Bible study, so I didn’t really start designing her cake until the actual day of her birthday (shame on me!).  I knew she wanted a Moana cake, and since I wanted to have it ready by the end of school on Friday (the next day after her birthday), I knew it couldn’t be too involved. I did a brief survey on Pinterest (wow, there are some amazing cakes out there…) and decided to combine a few ideas.



On the top of the cake, I used a paper stencil to apply green decorator sugar in the shape of her iconic spiral (also referencing the Heart of Te Fiti).*  On the sides, I used more stencils to sort of “spackle” a buttercream star strip design that is taken from her top. ** (Had I been feeling more ambitious, I would have added some of the line designs above and below, but I was also running out of time!)


I was able to find nice images online from which to create my stencils; I used the trace feature in my Silhouette software and cut the stencils from plain cardstock.





To top it all off (pun intended :)), I piped some large red tropical flowers with royal icing, and I also used some flowers I had previously made so that I could create a tropical flower cluster.

It was a pretty big hit with my Moana-loving little six-year-old!  I loved seeing the excitement on her face as she saw it when she walked in the door after school on Friday!

*Inspired by these cupcakes and using this stencil
**Inspired by this costume (stencil in the post)

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We did cupcakes for the party!

cupcakes, modeled after the Rapunzel cupcake in Vivian's game

cupcakes, modeled after the Rapunzel cupcake in Vivian's game

I thought about doing a large decorated cake for the party, but after thinking about all of the other things we were trying to accomplish (did I mention that we put the whole thing together in a week, not counting the invitations and the thank-you cards?), I realized that was particularly unreasonable.  Cupcakes seemed easier!

In fact, it played (no pun intended!) perfectly off of another one of my daughter’s favorite playthings–Disney Princess Cupcake Party Game (<–similar; affiliate link used).  This game is adorable (and actually has a clever game mechanic), and she loves just playing with the cupcakes themselves!  They’re like little Disney-bounding baked goods.  🙂 I managed to sneak a photo of the Rapunzel cupcake and I recreated it for her party.

inspiration for Vivian's birthday cupcakes

cupcakes, modeled after the Rapunzel cupcake in Vivian's game

The gold frosting is buttercream, and I made what felt like gazillions of royal icing flowers to sprinkle on top.  I cut out sunbursts from light yellow cardstock with my Silhouette and sandwiched a toothpick between two of them as a cupcake topper.  The cupcake wrappers are from Hobby Lobby, and my mother-in-law helped me locate the perfect color!!


I was so delighted: when my daughter saw them for the first time, she immediately exclaimed about how they were the cupcakes from her game!  Highest praise, indeed.

Vivian's fifth birthday party [Ed's camera]

Stay tuned for more about our daughter’s princess party!  

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My little boy turned two on Friday!  He is 100% smitten by trucks– he is fascinated by any vehicles, really, but his true love is for trucks specifically.

When Husband and I started discussing cake ideas for his birthday, we did a quick Pinterest search for “truck cakes.”  I’d seen many construction site cakes before, but seeing the different variations on Pinterest made me realize that this really was the kind of cake design that would really appeal to my little boy.

We took inspiration from a few cakes in particular (This one, and this one, which isn’t attributed properly, unfortunately.)  The first one was particularly intriguing, because of the inside!!

But first, some photos of the outside:



We first spotted those mini construction vehicles on Amazon, but soon discovered that they are significantly less expensive (for five trucks rather than four, even!) at Toys R Us and Walmart.  I couldn’t find them in my local store, but my mom found them in her area and brought them when they came to celebrate with us.





I used my favorite buttercream recipe and made it chocolatey-delicious by adding 4 oz of melted unsweetened chocolate at the end.  I made another half-batch and colored it construction yellow for my son’s name and the lower border.

To fit the dump truck under the bulldozer (as if it is catching what the bulldozer pushes over the edge), I added a little platform of cardboard wrapped in wax paper.  I frosted it to help hold the dump truck in place.



The “dirt piles” are chocolate-filled Oreos, crushed and strategically sprinkled on top to make it look like the bulldozer made a “2” shaped path on the top of the cake.  When I dug out the excavator’s pit in the side of the cake, I added more frosting and crushed Oreo to conceal the inside of the cake…because I wanted it to be a surprise!!



Looky!  It’s caution-striped!!  I used the tutorial HERE to create this cool effect.  I added food coloring to a yellow cake mix to give those stripes the construction yellow color, but I just used a dark chocolate cake mix for the “black” stripes.


My son was so excited.  He loved the trucks so much that he actually used them to eat his piece of cake!  Talk about a sign of approval 😉




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While I’m on a cake decorating kick here on the blog, I thought I’d finally get around to sharing V’s fourth birthday cake.

Remember my final cake for the Wilton Level 2 course?  Well, I basically copied it for V’s fourth birthday cake design.  When I asked her what she wanted, she started by basically requesting a repeat of  her third birthday cake…  Even though I was (and still am) proud of that cake, I’ve definitely stepped up my cake decorating game (like that cake inspired me to do!), so I talked to V and explained to her that she could have something different if she wanted.  She thought about it a bit, and then decisively declared that she wanted daisies.  I didn’t know that daisies were her favorite flower, but apparently they are!  I didn’t even know that she knew specifically what daisies were, but when I asked her what they should look like, she confidently described them as having lots of white petals with yellow in the middle.  Okay!  Perfect.

I figured out how to make daisies and prepared a bunch of them ahead of time.  We celebrated V’s birthday at my parents’ house, so I baked and frosted the cake there.  I piped the lettering first…

Decorating Vivian's fourth birthday cake

…and then I placed the daisies and leaves.

Decorating Vivian's fourth birthday cake

And here is the cake!

Vivian's fourth birthday cake

Vivian's fourth birthday cake

Vivian's fourth birthday cake

Vivian's fourth birthday cake

Vivian's fourth birthday cake

Vivian's fourth birthday cake

Vivian's fourth birthday cake

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Our final week of the Wilton Level 2 course began with learning some buttercream borders: reverse shell, rope, and ruffle.  I’d gotten a sneak-peek of the rope border from my course 1 teacher, which I used on B’s nautical-theme first birthday cake.

We also learned how to make a basket-weave– which absolutely entranced me.  I don’t usually think of myself as a basket-weave type of girl, but in white-on-white, it looks so elegant!  I decided to cover the sides of my final cake with this technique.

The rest of the class time was spent decorating our “final cake.”    In the week prior to class, I browsed the internet (Pinterest, really) for floral cake ideas, and based my cake design off of a few that I found that looked really elegant and beautiful in their simplicity. I sketched out a design, and each of us brought our cakes to class torted and frosted with a base layer of buttercream.  I had prepared all of my flowers and leaves ahead of time– I used the ones that I’d made in class, and I also spent a couple hours making a big stash at home.  (Below is a cell-phone snap of the box of flowers I brought to class!  A scrapbook-supply shipping box was the perfect way to store the flowers– it’s basically a clean pizza box.)

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I added the basket weave to the cake side after we had practiced the technique.  Then, all that was left to do was place the flowers according to my sketch using dollops of buttercream to support and adhere them!

I was so excited about everything we learned and by finishing my final cake that I completely forgot to take photos at class on our final evening.  However, I did not neglect to take photos of my final cake!  Please indulge me as I share a plethora of “beauty shots” of my cake.  🙂

"beauty shot" of my final cake for the Wilton Method Course 2

"beauty shot" of my final cake for the Wilton Method Course 2

"beauty shot" of my final cake for the Wilton Method Course 2

"beauty shot" of my final cake for the Wilton Method Course 2

"beauty shot" of my final cake for the Wilton Method Course 2

"beauty shot" of my final cake for the Wilton Method Course 2

"beauty shot" of my final cake for the Wilton Method Course 2

"beauty shot" of my final cake for the Wilton Method Course 2

"beauty shot" of my final cake for the Wilton Method Course 2

"beauty shot" of my final cake for the Wilton Method Course 2

"beauty shot" of my final cake for the Wilton Method Course 2

"beauty shot" of my final cake for the Wilton Method Course 2

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Without leaves (and some vines for good measure), flowers look a little bit lost, right?  This week’s class began with practice making different shapes of leaves with royal icing.  We learned how to pipe leaves with buttercream in Course 1, so this was a bit of a review.  I made a lot of leaves.

Wilton Course 2, week 3: royal icing leaves and vines

Wilton Course 2, week 3: royal icing leaves and vines

Wilton Course 2, week 3: royal icing leaves and vines

We did learn a new leaf shape this week– the violet leaf.

Wilton Course 2, week 3: royal icing violet leaf

Perfect timing–it’s like they knew we were also learning to pipe tiny violets and pansies!

Wilton Course 2, week 3: royal icing violet

Wilton Course 2, week 3: royal icing pansy

Seriously, I loved every moment of these classes.  All of these different flowers!

And then it got even better– we learned how to make a lily:

Wilton Course 2, week 3: royal icing lily!!

Wilton Course 2, week 3: royal icing lily!!

Even though I need a serious amount of practice to make my lily look a more delicate, it was amazing how lovely even the clumsiest ones look when you stick in the stamen and pistils (not edible).

Adding another layer of petals turns a lily into a poinsettia…And this was where my stumpy petals really started being obvious.  And then I dropped it in my lap.  Ha!  It really didn’t look much better before I dropped it.



Wilton Course 2, week 3: royal icing leaves and vines, violet leaves, pansies, and violets

I saved all of the leaves and flowers that I made this evening in preparation for our fourth class– making our “Final Cake!”  (Well, I may have sacrificed the poinsettia to taste-testing…)

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