Cake Decorating: First Attempt

A friend from my church family got accepted into a graduate psychology program in southern Texas, which is totally sweet, but with a little bitter aftertaste to it. So last Friday night the young adults gang decided to throw her a little goodbye party to bless this next step she is taking.

My dear friend Chantelle has witnessed several of my failed attempts to decorate cakes for different occasions. Nonetheless, she appreciates my efforts, and asked me to make a cake for this goodbye party.

I had been thinking about trying to do some serious cake decorating for a while, and I realized that this Friday night event was my chance to make Betty Crocker, or Duncan Hines, or the Doughboy proud. “Aww, you are so sweet for trying”, but still proud.

So I read, I researched, and I purchased some basic must-haves for cake decorators at Hobby Lobby.  So here goes a detailed report on my first attempt at cake decorating.

1. I made the cake. Out of a box! No time for baking from scratch. If you add one egg to the mix and 2 tsp of flour, the cake keeps it’s spongey quality but does not fall apart as easily.

2. After baking and cooling the cakes on a rack, I used a cerated knife to trim the cake tops to make them as flat and even as possible. I put a generous dollop of (room temp) icing on top of one of the cakes, and spread it with my spatula from the center out, allowing the icing to drip out the sides. I then put the second cake wrong side up on top of the icing. Little pieces of parchment paper between the cake and the cake stand really helped me prevent some pretty ugly messes.

3. Crumb phase: vital. Mix about 1/3 cup of icing with 1 tsp of water, and pour icing on the cake. Let the icing spill down the sides. Smooth icing into a thin layer over the top and sides of the cake. Make sure every cranny is covered between the two cake layers.


  4. After letting the icing dry for about 30 minutes, I put a very generous dollop of icing  on top the cake, again spreading the icing evenly from the center to the sides. 
 5. Once the cake was as even as I’d get it my first time (I’ll post the lessons learned from this experience at the end), I made my very first pastry bag out of parchment paper!

6. I could feel embarrassed for how messy the decoration along the sides looks, but I’ve decided to just be happy with my first attempt.

7. After adding some colorful sprinkles to disguise the border decoration, I tinted some chilled icing and wrote some heartfelt words on the cake. Not the loveliest, but it was from the heart for Elizabeth. It was eaten and enjoyed.

Lessons Learned:

1. I’ve learned when you use room temp icing, and when it needs to be chilled (like an expert cake decorator friend told me, the thickness of the icing is everything)

2. There’s a reason people made different cake spatulas for specific things.

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4 thoughts on “Cake Decorating: First Attempt

  1. What a brave girl you are–and good friend! I think the cake looks good and I’m sure everyone enjoyed it.
    And speaking of cakes–have you checked out http://www.cakewrecks.com ? You can get some really good laughs there, and also realize how wonderful your own cake decorating is.

    • Haha! Thanks for the link, it made me feel a little better about how my cake turned out (that sounds so mean!). I didn’t realize it was so hard to spell the word “school”.

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