Years ago, I stepped out of my comfort zone and signed up for a Community Ed class on cake decorating. Best. Decision. Ever.
Each week, I would go to class armed with a cake, frosting, spatulas, and decorating tools. And each week, I would leave class with a beautifully decorated cake!
In those days, I practiced all the time. When my own family tired of too much sweetness, I would bring cakes to my friends and co-workers.
Over the next several years, I baked fun, creative cakes to celebrate many happy events. My son had a birthday cake depicting his basketball jersey #5 with a Rawlings Basketball. We’ve had Bugs Bunny, Winnie the Pooh, Powerpuff Girls, race cars and tracks, golf balls, clowns, graduation, wedding, and anniversary cakes. I loved the creativity that it allowed me and the money saved as I was able to do it myself.
However, a full-time job and busy life has stolen my cake decorating days, and I’m ready to pass on my secrets and teach my grandkids how to make creative cakes.
It’s time to share a few of my secrets. So, here you go!
- If you bake the cake at 325 degrees for a longer time, it won’t rise as high, making a flatter cake, without the dome. A flatter cake is easier to decorate.
- While the cake is still warm, wrap it up in plastic wrap. Be careful that you don’t change the shape. Once you have it wrapped, freeze it. At this point, cakes can be frozen for 3-4 weeks and retain their freshness. Cakes are easiest to decorate when they are frozen. As a mom, this allowed me to bake cakes on one day and concentrate on the decorating another day. With four children, this made it more doable.
- Buttercream frosting is the best! There are different recipes out there, but if you use the one without milk, it keeps for a long time. I usually stored leftover frosting in the refrigerator.
- Use a small “glob” of frosting to hold your cake onto the cake plate. It won’t slide around as you frost it.
- Thin out part of your frosting. This should be enough to cover the cake with a crumb coat. This thinner frosting will coat your cake and keep the crumbs intact. We’ve all had that experience when our frosting turned into a crumby mess as we tried to spread it! This crumb coat takes care of that. Let it set for about an hour. Your cake is now ready for the thicker, heavier frosting.
- Keep a tall glass of hot water nearby, with a paper towel. When you need to smooth the surface of your cake, dip your metal spatula into the hot water and wipe it with the paper towel.The heated spatula makes your frosting smooth.
- While the frosting sets, you can get your decorating tools ready. I LOVE working with disposable bags. Easy clean-up AND you can keep them for future use if you have leftover frosting.
Nowadays, you can Google how to make anything from frosting daisies to roses. You can learn to swirl, twirl, sculpt, and ruffle. The ideas are endless!
For local readers, Lynn’s Cake Store in Fridley provides many supplies, decorating tips, sprinkles, bags, food coloring, and helpful hints. They’ve always answered all my questions and given me lots of ideas. If you don’t live in Minnesota, I’m sure there are cake supply stores where you live.
My final secret to making the best cakes ever? I have received so many compliments over the years on my cakes, so here’s where I’ll come clean: I owe them all to Betty Crocker and her amazing cake mixes!