Sunday, April 4, 2010

Dress Up Cakes without the Stress

I'm one of those people that wants to do everything myself when it comes to party planning or holidays or events.  I don't want to hire someone, I certainly don't want to buy store bought, but I want it to look like I hired someone and not scream MOM MADE.  That's just who I am, Poppa has learned to love me inspite of me.  This little personality trait of mine can drive loved ones crazy.  I tend to be controlling and the finest detail has to carry through with whatever theme is set for the event.  So why am I revealing this not so loveable trait about myself?  Well one of the things that usually goes along with events and parties is cake.  And I prefer to make my own cakes rather than buy but I'm not a cake professional and getting a cake to not scream MOM MADE can be tricky without experience, lessons, or practice. 
Over the past 4 years I've made quite a few cakes for friends and family and I've learned a lot of cool tricks and tips and thought that maybe some of you might also want to make homemade cakes but have them look more professional.  And in my opinion nothing tastes better than my recipe that has taken years to perfect.  One bite and Poppa knows if it's mine or not.  (Toot Toot haha)

So today I wanted to show you some easy ways to decorate and dress up a cake, whether it's a cake disaster or lack of experience, anyone can pulls these off. 

Let's start with a few tips. 
To get even shapes without the middle dome, tap your pans filled with batter down on the counter gently before baking to release air bubbles and to help settle the batter.  Also don't over fill your pans, put the same amount of batter in each pan by using measuring cups.  If you do get the dome shape after baking, just trim and cut to make it even and smooth.

Although store bought frosting is quick and easy, it's not going to leave a professional look due to not being able to crust.  Your icing/frosting needs to crust over so that it can be smoothed out.  But this can be tricky and time consuming so here comes my easy decorating ideas that can look professional but allows you to use store bought icing.

Items You will Need for Decorating These Types of Cakes:
Longer thin candies or cookies (ie: kit kats, twix, Wafer Roll cookies like Pirouette by Pepperidge Farm)
Toppings ie: strawberries, M&M's, jeally beans, etc.

If you're stacking your cakes and let's say it starts to crumble or fall apart, have faith in knowing that frosting acts like a glue and those pieces can be "glued" back together.  Take this cake for example.  My Nana over Easter weekend informed me she wanted me to decorate her a cake like some I had done in the past.  She'd already bought the decorations and would make the cake.  Now normally I'd prefer to make the cake myself and get the decorations I wanted but this is my Nana and it is still important to her to be able to do some things for herself so when she brought me the baked cake it was literally in 5 pieces.  But like I said, no biggie, just used frosting to piece it back together. 

This doesn't look like it's going to be worth anything to look at but just wait. 
Frost your sides then your top. Normally I'd tell you to do a crumb coat first but with these cakes we're decorating it won't matter if crumbs get in your frosting.  It doesn't matter how it looks frosted, it can be messy, clean, or in between.

Next you're going to grab your candy or cookies and add a little frosting to the back of each one and start placing around the entire cake, you want them to be touching each other.  (If using the wafer cookies, you may have to cut them to desired length).

Once the border is complete fill the top of the cake with your topper of choice, tie with a bow and you're done, that's it!  How easy and fun?!  Look at what all you can do for toppers.

Like how about chocolate dipped strawberries?

Or you could use a pie filling of any sort like blueberry.

Or how about beautiful flowers to dress up your cake, perfect for bridal showers.

You can use M&M's

Or Reece's Pieces

And don't Forget the Holidays like Christmas

Or Halloween

Or Valentine's Day

Or Even Easter

The possibilites for decorating these easy barrel cakes are endless.  Remember that cake that was broken in pieces?  Well you can't even tell anymore can you? 
So go give this a try and see how fun and easy it is and sit back and enjoy all the oooohhhs and aaahhs you will receive!  And if you make one, send it to me to feature. 

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