Many of you may have already seen my Sweetheart’s Valentine Table display that I posted, last week. It was the 1st layered cake I have ever made and or decorated. I hoped to have more time because I wanted to make the cake from scratch but with my time running short I had to resort to a boxed cake. I used Duncan Hines Decadent Triple Chocolate Cake mix.
The flavor from the cake was great, but I didn’t have a spring form pan small enough for a cake to fit on my 6.5 stand I wanted to use. So I baked the cake in a 9×13 pan, and I found round cookie cutters from Michael’s. I used the one that was about 4 inches so that I would have room to icing the cakes. I was able to fit 4 rounds from the cake I baked. I decided to icing 2 little cakes to see which I liked better, and to experiment with learning to icing cakes.
This next picture is of all the scraps leftover from cutting out the cake. If you had time the scraps would have been great to break back down and make cake pops out of. (I didn’t have time so my roommate ate the scraps just like this!)
This part was a little tough, the cake mix has you add in chunks of chocolate & fudge, which makes it very sticky. I had to wash off the cookie cutter a couple of times so that the cake rounds would not fall apart. I did stick the cake in the freezer after it came out of the oven to cool quicker.
The nice thing about these cookie cutters is that they were about an inch thick, so I was able to level off the cake by leaving the ring around the cake and cutting off the excess on top above the cutter. Once the layers had been cut & leveled, I placed them back in the freezer to harden up a bit more.
That fudge made it really hard to work with the cake without it crumbling. I can see why most bakeries will let the cake almost get stale before they decorate it. I just didn’t want the cake too dry. I decided to use a homemade butter cream icing for these cakes. Mmm I love butter cream icing! It is pretty much the only thing I ate that day I think. Opps. 🙂
TIP: Something that will come in hand is a large glass of hot water.
TIP: Have a cake stand to turn the cake while you icing it
This part went ok. I started by adding a large scoop of icing into the middle of the cake, I then turned the cake as I spread the icing out as I went, working from the center. I found fresh strawberries in the fridge and decided that adding strawberries was perfect for valentine’s day, so I then added a layer in-between the cake.
So after I had this layer done I put another layer of cake on top and spread the icing from the middle out again til the cake looked like this:
I know the icing isn’t perfect but I was trying. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of this next step. Next with my icing spatula I lobbed a bunch of icing on the top edge of a side and at the same time I started spinning the cake around. I never let the spatula touch the cake. There was always icing between. If it got too thin, I would glob more icing on the cake. I did this until the entire sides had been covered with Icing as well.
If the icing started to glob or pull off from my spatula, I would dip it in the hot water and it would help smooth the icing as I dragged the spatula across.
I did both mini cakes this way and placed them in the freezer.
It was after 2am so I decided to just go to bed and keep working on these the next morning.
This is what the 2 cakes ended up looking like:
For the cake above I made 3 colors of icing. I took a light pink, a dark pink and a lavender purple icing for the top. I first added icing to the top of the cake. I then worked my way to the sides with the light pink covering the entire sides. Then I took a bit of dark pink and only spread it along the bottom edge. I used sprinkles that I separated from a Halloween pack, so I had to pick them out of black and orange sprinkles. That part probably took the longest. I almost wish I had more of a variance in color but I still think it looks pretty cool.
I’m sure you have seen this cake already! This was my first time piping icing on a cake! I was pleased with how it turned out. I didn’t get everything uniform, but for a first attempt I can’t say that it’s terrible! I used pink vanilla butter cream icing, and did the ruffling with the icing, starting from the bottom working my way up the cake. I stood over the cake working upside down on the opposite side. (if that makes any sense.) I then used red sugar crystals to cover the base layer of white icing on the top of the cake. It still didn’t look finished so I took another strawberry and cut it like a heart and placed that on top.
I stuck the cakes back in the freezer until I was ready to use them for the photo shoot which I think was a mistake. I should have left them out to stay soft. Reason being, is because when I went to cut the cakes during the photo shoot to place a slice on a plate, the icing was still hard (even though I used a hot knife) and the strawberries in the middle were frozen! It was like hitting a rock wall. It also cracked the icing when I went to cut the cakes.
You can see here the bottom corner cracked. I had to push it back together so it wouldn’t show up in photos.
And the inside of the cake got more mangled up when cutting because the knife couldn’t go straight through because it was too cold.
So summing up my first cake decorating/photo shoot experience here is what I learned.
1. stick the cake in the freezer to firm it up.
2. when icing the cake never let your spatula touch the cake.
3. Have a glass of hot water handy to rinse off the spatula so you can get a smooth layer of icing
4. Don’t leave the cake in the freezer for 8 hours before a photo shoot and then only take it out with 30 min. before. Allow your cake time to properly thaw!
So any lessons learned from decorating or setting up table displays? I would love the extra advice!