Have you noticed how the good old store-bought cakes no longer cuts the mustard when it comes to kids’ birthdays?
It seems that cake making is now a competitive sport at kids’ birthdays between mums. So if your child is getting older, and you don’t want to shell out on a professional cake, then let me help you.
Now before I start, first and foremost, I am not a professional in any sense of the world. I just like decorating cakes for my kids.
I think I’m getting slightly better at it as the years go on. If you’re a bit nuts like me and want to have a crack, cake decorating can actually be great fun. It can also be extremely frustrating if you’re winging it like I have been. So I thought, why not share what I have learned at 2am after half a bottle of wine, many tears and some swear words that would make Sharon Osborne blush.
Firstly, don’t stress. It may look like these mums have participated in Cake Boss challenges, but it’s not as hard as it seems. Trust me, I once made this.
Some things you can get around. This isn't one of them. Don't go covering a styrofoam box in fondant, it will only end in tears. Yours and the children's.
However, there are some sneaky ways you can make this easier on yourself. From what I've found timing is key. Leaving everything until the last minute is going to be stressful, so plan in advance. Make a cake like a chocolate mud that freezes well. Then just give yourself enough time to defrost it over the course of a day or so and you're good to go. If you're really pressed on time, there is nothing wrong with a store bought pre-made sponge cake. I'm guilty of this one.
Buttercream icing or ganache is probably the best bet here, and buttercream is easy to make. You can buy some pre-done thingies, but really it's butter and icing. Maybe some milk if you're a bit wild. You can do this.
Firstly and most importantly you need to ice your cake when it is COMPLETELY cooled. DO NOT try and save time and ice while it's just a bit warm or your icing will be falling over faster than a 17 year old with a fake ID at schoolies.
Now, the aim here is to get the icing as smooth as possible. Use a palette knife (breathe, it's a fancy name for a flat knife) to smooth the icing out as much as possible. Cover the sides in the same manner and then leave the cake to set properly.
In the fridge is best.
Do not even think about rushing into the fun stuff yet because unless the icing is set properly, your fondant is going to get squishy. Think of the buttercream icing as the spanx under your LBD. It smoothes out all the lumps and bumps. (Ironic isn't it.)
The best stuff comes from the speciality cake shops. Choose a design that's pretty simple if it's your first attempt and take a picture into the store because they will be able to help you.