Behind the Scenes: Birthday Cakes

I kid myself with “behind the scenes”.  Like I am a movie star with something interesting to show you or something.  Hmpf!  But you know how you see someone else’s beautiful creation be it a craft or a recipe and you never see pictures of their 10 failures before they got it right?  Or how they completely destroyed their table with a glue gun?  Well, I’m posting pictures of some ugliness when it comes to making birthday cakes happen.

I actually am a Wilton certified cake decorator.  No, really.  I am.  I had big ideas of how awesome I was going to be and how I could use my awesome skills to earn extra money when I had a family.  Some of these grandiose ideas stemmed from my own mother, aunt and grandma who decorated cakes when I was a child.  But I realized in the midst of my training that I didn’t have a passion for it and with cake decorating you really need passion to get you through the days (yes, days) of baking, mixing, coloring and making cute swooshie things.  I realized since I didn’t love it, I just couldn’t be patient enough to make cakes pretty as the pictures.  Lesson learned.  But I still attempt to make fun cakes for my family’s birthdays.

My husband’s birthday is exactly a week before my 5 year old’s so there’s a lot of cake going on at that time.  Hubby requested mini cupcakes which I did in red velvet with cream cheese icing.  The thing about red velvet is it stains everything.  My hand looks like I just finished wiping blood from the counter instead of cake.

I ended up making 50 something mini cupcakes.  They are so cute but I was so done.  I took a few of them to create the number 36 and slapped on some icing, called it good.  They were too.

My sweet 5 year old requested a princess cake.  Not just any princess either, Princess Peach.  He really wanted me to make him this fondant Mario wedding cake I found online but that surely wasn’t going to happen.  He settled for this.

I know it’s not the best decorating in the world but I think it’s pretty good with the amount of time and effort I was willing to do.  I think it took me 2 hours to decorate.  Last year, I made him this Curious George cake.

He was even easier to make because I didn’t have a lot of colors I needed to mix.  So how do you make these mediocre cakes?  Use a template!

  1. Just find a picture and print it out to fit on your cake.
  2. Cut around all the edges then place it on your cake.
  3. Take a pointed knife or box cutter or exacto knife, whatever and cut around your template.  Make sure to not cut very deep.  In fact, the more shallow you cut the cake, the better.  Otherwise, when you serve the cake, it will fall apart on you.
  4. Remove the template and trace your cutting guide with icing.  With both of these cakes, I used black icing I bought.  If the picture isn’t complex, you can use an icing tip that comes with store-bought icing tubes.  Or find a craft or cake decorating store that sells Wilton tips (like Hobby Lobby or Michaels) and get the size you need.  The smaller the number, the smaller the size.  You do not have to buy icing bags either.  Just stick the tip through a corner of a sandwich baggie.
  5. Trace any outlines you need inside.  You can cut your picture if you don’t trust your creative instinct and trace like you did before or go wild and freehand it.
  6. Fill in with icing.  You can use a small star tip to fill in like you might see on Wilton cakes but I find it cramps my style… and my hand.  You can smooth the icing with a clean finger that you dip in a bit of water.

From all this partying, I had a mountain of dishes.  Both sinks are full and it’s overflowing.  😦   I despise doing dishes.  At least I got to eat a fair amount of cake!