My knack for decorating cakes is somewhat of a family affair. My grandmother on my dad's side was a baker by trade. She made special birthday cakes for me and my sister and our cousins, she baked and decorated cakes for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and any other occasion you would need a cake for. She was a pro. When she passed away I acquired a few of her shaped pans including oscar the grouch, bert and ernie, strawberry shortcake, a smurf (which could come in handy again sometime soon...) among others. I took a Wilton Cake Decorating class at JoAnn's a couple of years ago and it has been fun to use the cake pans that my grandma used to use.
Cake Decorating 101
Start with shaped cake. I purchased Elmo for about $7.00 ($13.99 with 50% coupon at Michaels). The cake pretty much directs you in how to decorate it. And if you are still not sure, http://www.wilton.com/ has PDF files of all cakes, baking instructions, pictures to help you know what colors, even step by step instructions including which decorating tips to use when piping the frosting. It's a cake bakers best friend!
Lots of buttercream frosting. Wilton has a great recipe and the good news is you can get all the ingredients relatively inexpensively (notice a pattern?).
4 c powdered sugar
1/2 c butter
1/2 c vegetable shortening
1 tsp clear vanilla extract (Wilton)
2 tbsp milk
*to thin frosting use 1-2 tsp of light corn syrup
For Elmo and Bert and Ernie, I made two batches of this recipe.
My favorite appliance. Well, maybe not really-but it for sure is when I'm baking! Kitchen-Aid mixers are a luxury, I never thought I would actually own one, but luckily I have a generous mom who knows I love to bake! I put this bad boy to work this weekend, and it did not disappoint.
White buttercream frosting. MMmm! Just needs a splash of color. Wilton makes great gel frosting dyes in pretty much every hue possible. For the black frosting I bought a tube of Wiltons pre-mixed, pre-colored frosting. You would have to add so much gel color to homemade frosting that it would taste too bitter to eat. For intense colors like red or black, I always purchase Wilton's pre-made frosting colors. ($1.50 at Walmart-or Michaels with a coupon!)
Finished product. For Elmo, I frosted him white and used Wilton spray frosting color. Then went back in with the tube of black to fill in the mouth. Piped on the nose using the #5 tip and actually just used my finger for the eyes. Elmo took about 20 minutes to decorate-piece of cake (no pun intended).
Bert and Ernie. I am bummed because I didn't really take a picture of the Bert and Ernie cake by itself. This was the best one I could find. I piped all of Bert and Ernie using the #18 decorating tip. For the star-fill-in method the #16 tip is recommended but I was being lazy and the #18 tip is a slightly bigger star, taking up more room therefore less stars have to be piped. I was happy with how it turned out! I bought all the decorating tips I needed for these two cakes (#3, #5, #16 & #18) in a set at Walmart (by Wilton) for $3.00 - they also have all the gel coloring, spray color and disposable piping bags available in their cake decroating aisle.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY JACK!