Cake Decorating… for the rest of us.

I am a bit of a cake enthusiast.  Translation: I would LOVE to be as good at making cakes as some of my friends, but I haven’t the time or inclination to perfect my skills.  Meanwhile, I’ve gotten pretty good at half-hearted cake attempts.  So here it is:  a blog post on how to bake and decorate a cake–for those of us who don’t want to spend hours doing so.

First, go buy your favorite box of cake mix.  Bake it according to the instructions in whatever shape pan you choose.  I chose to do a double layer square cake this time.  After you’ve cooked it accordingly, let it cool for a bit (15 min to an hour-ish.)

Now for the important part: take saran wrap and stretch it over a cookie sheet.  Dump your cake onto that; wrap the cake in the saran wrap.  Now go stick it in the freezer for at least overnight.  This will make your cake taste super moist.

Before pulling your cake out of the freezer the next day, prepare your icing.

Spread a thick layer of icing between your layers (assuming you’re doing a layer cake and not a sheet cake.)  Things to keep in mind: use a lot.  Oh, and hurry–the more your frozen cake thaws, the more flaking you’ll get in your icing.

Some people do a crumb layer of icing first–where they do a thin layer of icing and freeze the cake again before applying a final layer of icing.  I didn’t have time for this particular cake, so I had to settle with a few crumbs.  Anyway, I applied a super thick layer of icing, then I broke out this:

I was really excited about the possibilities of this tool, but I was relatively unimpressed.  Still, it served it’s purpose, allowing me to create this finish:

Like I said, meh.  But it was fast and easy, which is what I was hoping for that day…  as I only had a couple of hours to complete a fairly complicated cake design.

Now, to get your icing smooth on the top, fill a cup or mug with HOT water.  Also, buy this spatula.  I have two now.  You dip the spatula in the hot water and patiently smooth out the icing, working your way from the center out.

(Oh, and if you’re wondering about the carpet…  I had to go into our den for this whole project because my kids were sleeping and they can hear everything that happens in the kitchen.)

Depending on your level of patience, you can get the icing as smooth as fondant with this method.  I wasn’t feeling very patient…  this is what 5 minutes bought me:

Don’t worry about those edges.  We cover them later anyway.

Now, freeze that for at least 15 minutes.

Now would be a good time to mix your icing colors for the next step.  The easy way out at this stage is to do words (“Happy Birthday So-and-So!”) and a shell border.  Orrrr you can be insane and continue along with me.  😉  Either way, you’ll want these bags…

To put the bag together, cut the tip off of the bag and insert this part of the coupler….

Then place your tip over that…

 …and screw the other part of the coupler over the tip.

To load the icing bag, turn down the end.  This will keep you from getting icing all over yourself later.

Using a big spoon, press however much icing you need into the bag, then twist the top shut.

I read a brilliant blog post here about using a a coloring sheet as a template for designing your cake, and I thought, ‘Why not try that with a picture?”  So, I printed off a picture in black and white, taped it to a cookie sheet, and taped wax paper over it.

It would be important to note here that your image will be reversed, so if you have a snobby husband who doesn’t like the look of himself conducting left handed, you might want to take that into consideration.  lol.

Trace the image.  I used a #2 tip, I think.

Fill in the dark.  Oh, and don’t use a star tip, because that will make the entire thing too thick, which will make it look ridiculous, as you’ll see in a bit.

Fill in the lights.

Now, freeze that for about 15 minutes (until it’s hard to the touch) before you turn it out on your cake.

Add a shell boarder, too, and you’re done!

Yeahhhh, the text was much more eloquent in my mind, but by that point, it was time to go!

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