Blog Archive

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My First Cake

This past weekend I went upstate to visit my family because it was my Mother's 40th high school reunion. It was great seeing the family again, especially my Mom. For the past few trips upstate my Aunt Kim and I have been talking about having her teach me how to make a cake. My Aunt Kim makes
A-M-A-Z-I-N-G cakes. Not only do they look great, they taste great.

Well, this past weekend I finally got the chance to step in to Kim's Cake Kitchen for a three hour lesson to decorating cakes.
I have documented my first cake step by step. Since I was only visiting for two and a half days, and we were on a schedule (we had to be finished before brunch with the fam or else we were in trouble!) Aunt Kim was smart and baked the actual cakes the day before. She made two 8" round cakes for me and two 6" round cakes for her.

I expressed an interested in frosting so she saved the frosting for the first step. Because I do not want to give away the secret ingredients (well, mostly because I can't remember all the steps) I am going to skip how to make the Butter Cream frosting steps.

How to Make a Fancy Base for your Cake:

1. Choose the correct cardboard cake base size for the cake you are about to m
(These give your cake a sturdy foundation for decorating and transporting.

2. Choose a covering for your cake base. You can cover them with a doily, foil paper or freeze paper.
We chose a pretty gold foil paper.

3. Lay your base on the foil paper and cut a size that will cover the entire base.

4. Cut the foil paper all the way around the base. Then use a glue stick around the edges of the foil paper.

5. Fold the foil paper over onto the cardboard base.

Now you have a fancy base for your cake!

How to Layer your Cake:

1. Make the frosting.

*Introducing a Coupler. This little fella goes inside the pastry bags.
(Couplers are a must have for any decorator. They allow you to interchange standard tubes and other small tubes without having to empty the contents of the decorating bag! They come in all shapes and sizes.)

*Introducing disposable pastry bags! You can also use reusable pastry bags!
(Popular for fast and easy decorating. These bags are moisture resistant and make color identification easy and provide a convenient storage for icing.)

3. Insert the coupler inside the pastry bag.

4. Fill the pastry bag with the frosting about half way.

5. Twist the top of the pastry bag closed.

6. Take the first cake and cut it in half leaving the base half of the cake thicker than the top half. Then, cut the top rounded portion of the top half to make it flat. This way when you put the layers together they are flat and even.

Repeat with the second cake.

7. Add a dollop of frosting in the middle of your fancy cake base.
(This acts as a glue to hold your cake in place.)

8. Now place the bottom of your cake on top of the frosting.
(Use the base half of the cake that is thicker - above image on the left)

*There is in fact a technique to holding and using your pastry bag correctly.
(Howdini give some great tips on how to use a pastry bag!)

*Squeeze the bag with the heel of your hand to apply pressure which will squeeze the frosting out of the bag. If you are not used to it, your hand does cramp and hurt after a while. Practicing (back into the bowl of course, you don't want to waste any of that delish frosting) applying the same amount of pressure is very helpful before you get to the actual cake.

9. Before you start adding icing to the cake you should first squeeze some of the frosting back into the bowl. This helps to eliminate any air bubbles in the bag.

10. Once you are air bubble free, add a ring of frosting around the very edge of the first layer of cake.
(*remember to apply the same amount of pressure all the way around. The frosting acts as a glue to hold the two layers together and holds the filling in.)

11. Now add the filling of your choice.
(Aunt Kim chose chocolate and I chose raspberry.)

12. Add the top half of the first cake.

13. Put a small amount of pressure on the middle portion of the cake and lift the edges all the way around the cake. This allows the air to escape.

14. For the middle layer of the cake, we added a layer of frosting. If you would like to repeat steps 10-13 and add another layer of filling, you can.

*We used an offset stainless steel Frosting Spatula to spread all of the frosting.
(When icing cakes, smoothing batter and spreading fillings or ganaches, the offset angle and slight flexibility of its blade provide exceptional control. These features also ensure superb leverage and maneuverability when lifting cake layers or transferring cookies from baking sheet to cooling rack.)

15. Now, add the top half (thinner piece) of the second cake to the top of the layer of frosting or filling.

16. Once again, repeat steps 10-13.

17. Once all of the layers are complete with filling and frosting, add the final piece to the cake. This is the bottom half of the second cake. Place it upside down to allow the top portion of the cake to have the flattest layer.

18. Frost the exterior edge and top of your cake. This is called a crumb coat.

How to Crumb Coat a Cake:

When a cake that has cut edges, it's a really great idea to crumb coat your cake. A crumb coat is a thin, smooth layer of frosting that covers the entire cake to seal in the crumbs, so that your final coat of frosting is beautifully crumb-free. Liv Hansen shares her tips for crumb coating a cake:

1.Add a large dollop of frosting to the top of the cake and smooth out to cover the entire top, allowing the excess to go over the sides and corners of the cake.

2. Load the offset spatula from the top edge to the bottom edge and spread it evenly on the sides of the cake. You can use the excess frosting that comes over the top to help with crumb coating the the sides with frosting.

3. Once you have the entire cake covered, you will need to remove any excess frosting. When the cake is square as shown in this video, you will start at one end of a side and glide the spatula to the other end, forming a lip of excess frosting on the corn
er. Use the excess on the corner to frost the next side of the cake, and so on.

4. After crumb coating the sides, a lip of frosting will have formed on the top edges of the cake. Using a motion like an airplane landing and taking back off, scrape the excess frosting from the edge towards the center of the cake. Continue around the entire perimeter of the cake. After every pass, scrape the excess frosting off of the spatula onto the corner of a bowl or frosting container.

5. When you have finished with your crumb coat, chill the cake for 30 minutes to one hour before applying the final coat of frosting.

*We had enough frosting that squeezed out of the edge of the cake when we would apply pressure and squeeze the air out of the cake to cover most of the sides.
*This is where we added our dollop on top to complete the crumb coat.

How to get make Colored Frosting for Decorations on your Cake:

1. Decide how you would like to decorate your cake. Aunt Kim taught me how to make roses and leaves, plain shells, reverse shells.

2. Once you have decided on a design, decide what colors you would like to use so you know how many parchment triangles you need to make. Aunt Kim and I used green for the leaves, and yellow and peach for the roses.

3. Fold as many parchment triangles you need. Even though we had three colors, we only needed two parchment triangles because our roses were two toned.

*I found a great website that shows you how to fold parchment triangles.
4. Now that you have decided on what colors you would like to make your roses, you can mix your colors with the icing. Aunt Kim uses two different brands. The brand we mainly used was Wilton Icing colors.

5. Add the plain frosting into separate containers for each color.

6. Using a separate toothpick for each color, dip the toothpick into color and add a drop into each container. You only need a teeny tiny drop.

7. Using a spoon, mix the frosting and the color. You will quickly see the color spread throughout the frosting.

8. Fill each parchment triangle with the color frosting. You do not need as much as the plain white. The smaller the bag the easier to use if you have a smaller hand like me.

*When doing two tone roses, you need to make sure you fill the bag up correctly so your two colors come out the way you would like them. For instance, our roses are going to be yellow with a peach rim. Therefore, make sure the peach is inserted on the same side of the bag as the skinny end of the nozzle.

*Noor has a great website that shows all the different nozzles you can purchase to make all kinds of patterns and shapes.

9. Fold the bags and place them aside for the moment.

10. Add a smooth layer of frosting on the top of the cake. A trick to make it extremely is called hot knifing. Basically, this means you run your spatula under hot water and run it over the top of the frosting. Clean the knife and repeat until the surface is smooth.

How to do a Basket Weave:

1. Now we are going to start decorating the side of the cake. Aunt Kim has suggested a basket weave. I accepted. We used a Ribbon Band Wide nozzle for the basket weave.

12. Once the top and the sides are complete you can start decorating the cake. Aunt Kim taught, well tried to teach me, how to make roses. At least I attempted. We used a large petal nozzle for the roses.

How to Make a Rose:

1. Position the tip onto the top of the nail, with the wide end touching the nail. The tip should be angling inward.

2. The key to using the flower nail is to synchronize your hand movements. You need to squeeze the frosting out of the bag at a steady rate and move the piping bag while also turning the nail slightly in the opposite direction. Apply gentle pressure on the bag and squeeze out the frosting in a slow continual stream, spinning the nail in one full circle to produce a cone shape that is wide on the outside, tapering to a fine point on the inside. This is the center of your rose.
Aunt Kim explained it as making a Tipi.

3. Then add a top layer to top off the tipi. Can you tell which one is Aunt Kim's?
4. Now that you have your first layer of petals, it’s time to form the second layer—this one will have five petals total. Position the tip on the outside of one of the petals, again placing it slightly above the head of the rose nail so that it arcs up and outward. Repeat the squeezing and turning to form your petal.

5. Continue to create the petals of this layer, being sure to overlap each petal over the previous one so that they form an unbroken circle around the center.

6. Once your flower is complete, carefully slide the flower using scissors, halfway open, onto your cake.
7. Repeat the procedure to create as many flowers as you need.
(If you are using buttercream, place the flowers in the refrigerator or freezer to harden if you are not using them right away. Once hard, they can easily be removed by hand or spatula and placed on a cake. If you are using royal icing, leave the flowers at room temperature to harden. The outside will harden almost immediately, but the bottom (the part touching the wax paper) will take longer, so give them 24 hours to fully set before removing them from the paper. They can be stored indefinitely at room temperature.)
How to do a plain shell pipe design:

1. Hold the bag at a 45-degree angle, position the piping tube (nozzle) to the surface you would like to add the design.

2. Squeeze the bag so the frosting emerges all round the piping tube. Squeeze the frosting out to the size of shell you would like then slowly drag the piping tube to produce a tail to complete the shell.
3. As you drag the tube, release the pressure on the bag.

4. Start the next shell on the tail of the previous shell, making sure you keep them all equal size.

How to Make Leaves:

1. Use a leaf nozzle to make your leaves.

2. Start at the base of the flower by applying pressure to build up the larger part of the leaf.

3. Slowly let up on the pressure without pulling the tube and stretching the leaves too long.

4. Stop the pressure and let go to make the point at the end of the leaf.

*Most of my leaves turned out too long as you can see below.

The Final Touch: Writing

1. Write anything you want!
I found this to be the hardest part, well almost the hardest part. The roses were pretty tough.

Me and my Aunt Kim with our finished products!

The Best Part: Eating



  1. I'm VEEEEEEEEERY impressed Ms. Alexis!!! I could never even begin to take on that task!! Looks very yummy indeed!!

  2. this is AWESOME!!! What a detailed post and I love the pics!