Archive for the ‘cake decorating’ Category

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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We worked with royal icing this week!  During last week’s class, our instructor demonstrated how to make it, and we prepared batches ahead of time for class.

What is amazing and very cool is that royal icing, if stored properly, will not go bad!  So you can save batches of it in different colors for future projects.  Not only that– you can make flowers and other designs ahead of time, allow them to dry, and then use them as needed on cake projects!

I brought my big camera this week!  I decided I didn’t care if my classmates thought I was a crazy person– I wanted decent photos of my progress!

The first technique we covered was lace applique.  We used templates with our practice boards to pipe out lacy designs.  After letting the design dry, it can be removed from the substrate and attached to a cake.  In “real life,” a parchment paper substrate is a better idea, and there are all kinds of cool applications for the applique (haha, see what I did there?!)– scrollwork, lettering, flowers, etc.

Wilton Course 2, week 2: royal icing lace applique

We started our flower work this week with rosebuds.  They are trickier than they look!

Wilton Course 2, week 2: royal icing rosebuds

It helped to add the little sepals and calyx.  There were plenty of self-deprecating jokes flying around the room about our rosebud proficiency levels…

Wilton Course 2, week 2: royal icing rosebuds

Half-roses came next.  Our instructor admitted that she really disliked these flowers, which intimidated me at first.  But after practicing them a bit, I decided that I really do like them quite a bit.

Wilton Course 2, week 2: royal icing half roses

Wilton Course 2, week 2: royal icing half roses

Last, but not least, roses in their full glory!

Wilton Course 2, week 2: royal icing rose

Apparently, it is my natural tendency to make my roses in the reverse direction from the canonical twirling direction taught in Wilton classes.   It just feels more natural to me that way!  I’ll keep working on it, though, since I do have to admit there is a logic behind Wilton’s method…

Wilton Course 2, week 2: royal icing roses, half-roses, and rosebuds

Wilton Course 2, week 2: royal icing roses, half-roses, and rosebuds

Have I mentioned that I LOVE making flowers??  I had so much fun on this evening.   I was so focused on my work at class tonight that I didn’t even notice how huge of a mess I’d made… until I started taking photographs. When I looked around the room, I realized how much messier I was than anyone else in the class!


It’s all worth it for some beautiful royal icing flowers, though!

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We did it again!  My friend and I took the second Wilton cake decorating course– “Flowers and Cake Design”– at the local Michaels craft store…way back in October 2015!  I am finally blogging the experience now.

Wilton Course 2 partner-in-crime, Amanda!

Wilton Course 2 partner-in-crime, Amanda!  (photo taken during week three of class)

The first thing we did in week 1 was to learn how to make a piping bag out of parchment paper.  Some people prefer to use parchment for royal icing (rather than a plastic piping bag).  It took me a little bit of time to get my head wrapped around the right way to wrap the paper to make the adjustable cone… but I finally got it!  And I took a photo to help me to remember for next time.   (I didn’t bring my big camera to the first week of class, so all the photos from this week are from my cell phone.)

Wilton course 2, week 1: constructing a parchment paper piping bag

We worked with buttercream this week, and learned some new techniques for cake decor:  brush embroidery (left) and Cornelli lace (right).

Wilton course 2, week 1: brush embroidery and Cornelli Lace

It shows up better when you take the practice template out from underneath the clear layer of the practice board!

Wilton course 2, week 1: brush embroidery and Cornelli Lace

A close-up of the Cornelli lace.  It reminds me of a meander pattern of free-motion quilting.  Except, you know, with a continuous bead of buttercream.  Much tastier! 😉

Wilton course 2, week 1: brush embroidery

I have to admit, I wasn’t a huge fan of the brush embroidery look at first.  My friend and I joked about what else we could brush embroider…I suggested a fish, and then I had to see if I could do it!

Wilton course 2, week 1: brush embroidery

Not too bad, right?  Actually, the brush embroidery has grown on me… I think to be happy with my own, I need to practice (a lot!) more, but I do like the flowers with two rows of petals.

Last but not least, we made flowers!!!  This week it was buttercream apple-blossoms.  I love making frosting flowers!

Wilton course 2, week 1: apple-blossom type flowers

Wilton course 2, week 1: apple-blossom type flowers

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