Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mini Cakes - Picture Tutorial!

Making a mini cake can be painstakingly tedious.  Here is a quick picture tutorial on how to use cupcakes (instead of cookie cutters) to get your mini cake layers.  If you have an questions please comment or ask any questions!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Castle Painting 101

Hello again!  This is a quick tutorial on how to paint a Styrofoam castle.  After spending a lot of time painting the castle WRONG I decided someone might benefit from this and save themselves hours of time!  I received my first castle cake order a couple of weeks ago and was excited to try this design out.

First thing first: order the castle topper. I found a nice selection of castle toppers at CalJava Online:  For this I ordered Castle #8.  Make sure to charge your client accordingly as the castle itself is about $50 plus taxes and shipping charges.

What made this castle tricky, is that the client wanted  to stick with the fushia hue for the castle as well.  While I know airbrush colors would work real nice there was no standard fushia airbrush color and I was unsure which colors to mix since airbrush colors are a little harder to visualize until you spray it.

So I opted to mix a number of my cake colors to get a similar shade.  I turns out electric pink and lavender (purple and white) gave me a good fushia.  I know it looks red below and above it looks pink but it really did look fushia!  Ok so here is my summary of do's and don't-s for painting Styrofoam castles:

Do's and Don't-s


- Use an airbrush
- If you want to hand paint use petal dust with vodka
- If you don't have petal dust or an airbrush use only paste cake colors (like Wilton)


- Don't use the more liquidy gel colors (like Americolor).  They have just the right amount of water to make Styrofoam painting frustrating.
- Don't pipe the tower tips with buttercream... ok so I know that might be a design preference for you but I tried it, it really wasn't too pretty, and it made a big MESS of my castle painting job.  I was hoping to go over it with silver luster dust when it dried, but it didn't look too good and my painting problems snowballed from there once I got the Styrofoam greasy!

Hope this mini tutorial helps someone out there who may be thinking of painting a Styrofoam castle (or other Styrofoam) cake topper!:)

Happy Caking!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Level A Cake!

Cake leveling is a big part of cake decorating.  If your cake is not well leveled it will look unbalanced and if tiered it will probably loose it's balance!!  While there a number of techniques out there here is what I have found myself doing over the years:


Baked Cake
Edible Marker
Cake Lifter
Level slicer for layers

How to Level a Cake:

1.  Bake it:  Fill your cake pan 1/2 full of cake batter.  When your cake is baked your results should look similar to the picture below with a cake dome above the edge of the pan.  Let it cool for at least 10 minutes but no more than 1/2 hour.  This will give the cake enough time to settle into the pan and just enough time to not be difficult to get out cleanly.  Using the pan as your guide slice of the cake top/dome as shown.  You will get the best results with a nice long cake knife.  Also, be careful as the pan will still be hot.  I always like to fold over the cake top when I am done to give the cake a good inspection.  I like my cake to look spongy, soft, and moist.  Whenever I have 'messed up' my formula oh man does it show!!  (And if it's bad... I do it all over again!!)

2.  Flip it!  Right after it is cut it's time to get the cake out of the pan.  If you wait too long the cake becomes more difficult to get out as it starts to settle in the pan as it cools.  I like to wait 10 minutes and no more than 30.  I also like to use trays to move the cake layers about.  So with your plate, tray, or cardboard, place it on top of your freshly cut cake and flip.  Be careful as the pan will still be hot.

3.  Mark it!  I like to use edible ink pens to mark one line across the height of my cake layer.  In this way, when I use the leveler to slice the 2" layer into two 1" layers I know exactly where they matched up.  This gives me the best chance of keeping the same even level the cake came out with from the oven.  So right after you mark your line make sure to use the layer slicer to cut your cake layer in half (sorry forgot to take a picture of that!)

 4.  Fill it!  Whenever you are ready to start the decorating process is when you are now ready to start filling.  I like to do this after it has chilled for a few hours, that way you will get the least crumbs and great cake firmness to work with.  The cake will also be more moist when you eat it!  Fill between each 1" layer that you have created.  Use the cake lifter to separate the the 1" layers.  You can see that each layer will have it's own marked line.  I also notice sometimes my smaller tiers like to bake a little of center.  This is where I rotate the top 2" layer from the bottom 2" layer to get the most 'level' looking results.

5.  All Level now Crumb Coat it!  Now that you have a level cake - Congratulations!!  To start the crumb coat cut off any unsightly cake 'bulges' on the edges like the lip that formed here.  Using your cake knife cut these parts off.  With that ready give it a good crumb coat to prepare the foundation for the final buttercream coat or fondant.  There are occasions when the cake is still not quite level, in these situations use the buttercream and a good eye to create the look of a level cake by filling in any voids and removing excess at high points.

Good luck and thanks for reading!!
Happy Caking!