I’m sure this may come as a shock to many of my readers, but while I absolutely LOVE eating cake, making a cake isn’t exactly my day job. That’s not to say I would completely flop on that popular baking show (hence the chosen blog name), but I’m also not getting into a pastry chef school any time soon.
With that said, I had the opportunity to make a cake (and cupcakes) for one of my favorite tiny humans a few weeks back. For your entertainment, and to offer up some humble baking advice, I documented my progress! So, sit back and enjoy as I tell you my colorful tale of crumbling cake, haywire (but DELICIOUS) frosting, and a little girl who loved every single bite!
Make A Cake To Impress: Toddlers Don’t Care, But Their Parents Do!
Let’s be honest, none of us know a two-year-old who gives a lick what their cake looks like. If it’s pretty, colorful, and messy, you’ve basically ‘nailed it’ (sorry, I just had to!). Tasty is a bonus. But, their parents on the other hand? They want something that looks like Julia Child made it.
Spoiler Alert, I am NOT her.
When I was asked to make this rainbow cake and matching cupcakes concoction, I had my doubts. What if it wasn’t perfect? What if I ruined this little girl’s birthday with a cake that scarred her and her tiny friends for life? Thankfully, my common sense kicked in.
If you read our previous blog during Valentine’s Day, you’ll know I shared a cupcake recipe that has won awards in the past. Humblebrag, I wasn’t concerned about the taste. What did scare me though, was the decorating. But I’ll get to that in a bit.
Make A Cake Step By Step: Let’s Get to Baking!
While I’m not going to go into the full recipe for the cakes and cupcakes, (you can find that here), I do want to tell you about the fun, and not-so-fun parts of my rainbow cake-making endeavors.
This mom didn’t want regular cupcakes, oh no, she wanted Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes. What are those, you might ask? They are the definition of pure evil. Putting them together was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. But, all jokes aside, they actually turned out not half bad! Just take a look at the pictures below.
Step 1: Make Your Cake Batter!
This is the easy part – make your cake as directed on the box. But follow my tips for guaranteed moisture and fluffiness.
Shannon Tip #1
- Add an extra egg
- Substitute your water for milk
- Add a splash of vanilla
Step 2: Enhance Your Cake Batter!
Also optional, but your good stuff is going to mix together SO well if you let it sit for just a few minutes.
Shannon Tip #2
- Add a box of Instant Pudding Mix (yes, just trust me) to your batter. Do not over whisk it as it won’t rise if you do.
Step 3: Disperse Your Cake Batter Evenly-ish
Pour your batter into your cake cones. You can use a different kind of cone if you’d like, but the next step will be hard with a cone that ISN’T a flat bottom. Keep in mind your cake batter only needs to go up to the inner lip of your cone.
Step 4: Prep Your Cake Baking Tools
Set up your holding tray. Now, I’m sure there are more elegant ways to do this. Unfortunately, I don’t have any of the fancy-schmancy stuff, so I went the more—creative– route.
Taking a disposable pan, add a layer of aluminum foil over the top as tightly as you can. Cut little x’s in your foil with a small knife, just big enough for your cone to stand in.
Shannon Tip #3
- Take note: No matter HOW gentle you are with your ice cream cone cupcakes, they WILL fall over when you’re pulling them out of the oven. Like Thanos, it is inevitable.
Step 5: Bake Your Cupcakes
Cook those babies according to the directions on your box. Use your toothpick to see if they’re done. It should come out clean!
Shannon Tip #4
- All 24 cupcakes I made required an extra 8-10 minutes in the oven.
Step 6: Cakes Need Chill Time
Let them cool, COMPLETELY.
How to Frost Cupcakes like a ‘Professional’
And this is where I messed up. Luckily, not with the icing.
I was, however, SO excited to decorate, that I forgot to take pictures of the process! Thankfully, I have a great memory, decent explanatory skills, and some photos of the outcome.
When it came to the cupcakes, I wanted rainbow swirl icing. For the cake itself, I wanted a rainbow tie-dye effect. So, I could use the same icing for both!
Step 1: Store-Bought Icing Is Fine
While the birthday girl didn’t have any recommendations, her mom let me know that whipped icing was the frosting of choice. So, I bought 6 jars of it to mix the different colors, along with yellow, red, and blue food coloring.
Shannon Tip #5
- You CAN mix red and yellow food coloring to make orange, or yellow and blue to make green.
- Throw the ‘use food coloring sparingly’ – instruction out the window. I needed a TON to make the colors vibrant enough for a rainbow cake.
- Warm your icing in the microwave for about 15 seconds. This will make it easier to mix in your food coloring.
Step 2: Prep Your Icing
Grab 6 different piping bags, leaving the tips intact for now. Put your piping bag in a large glass and fold the edges over the rim, making it SO much easier to load your frosting without making a huge mess.
Once all of your frostings are nestled in their bags, carefully squeeze your frosting down towards the tip letting air out of the top. This will help you avoid air bubbles. Cut about ¼ inch of the tip off the piping bag.
Step 3: Pretty Cake Requires Careful Planning
Pull out a sheet of saran wrap, about 12 inches by 12 inches. Take your first piping bag of frosting and pipe out a thick, straight line on your saran wrap.
Shannon’s Tip #6
- Do NOT go all the way to the edges. Try and keep it centered.
Grab your next frosting bag and right above your first color, add a line of your second color. Make sure these two lines of icing are touching.
Repeat this process until you’ve done all 6 colors.
Step 4: Trust The Process
Gently roll your icing, making sure you don’t accidentally roll your saran wrap into the icing. This should create a pinwheel of icing colors.
Open up a new piping bag and place a tip down inside (optional), before cutting off the bottom of the piping bag. Carefully put your entire saran wrap icing tube down into the piping bag. Gently squeeze from the top until it starts coming out of the tip.
Step 5: Cake’s Never Looked This Good
I wish I could tell you the hard part is done, but for me, this was the most nerve-wracking. On the bright side, once you get the hang of it, it’s a breeze!
Start from the middle of your cupcake, without pressing down too hard. As you squeeze your piping bag, start to rotate your wrists and draw a swirl on top of your cupcake as you gently pull up. You should only need about two full rotations to cover the top of your cupcake with a cute little swirl on top.
Shannon Tip #7
- Don’t get frustrated. It may look like a ‘piece-a-cake’ on your favorite baking show, but it isn’t. Even if you don’t achieve the perfect swirl! I’m proud of you!
Now, wait for it to set. Since we microwaved the frosting, it will be super soft. I suggest letting them sit for a solid hour before serving. If you need them quicker than that, place them in the fridge for about fifteen minutes.
Nailing Cake Decorating
When I first added the frosting to the cake, I’ll be honest, it looked bad. But this is a classic example of ‘Trust the Process.’ Plus, it was so fun to do!
Step 1: You Got This
With my bowls of rainbow frosting staring me in the face, I was ready to tackle the challenge.
Shannon Tip #8
- Get yourself a lazy susan. It does wonders when it comes to decorating a cake.
Load a dollop of frosting onto the tip of your mini icing spatula. Very carefully, smear your dollop around the bottom layer of the cake in a 1-inch section. Don’t worry about it not being even or if you have large dollops of icing not spread out. It will still work!
Step 2: Time To Repeat Yourself!
Once you’ve gone all the way around your cake, Clean your icing spatula.
If you take at least one tip away from this blog, let it be to softly draw a line around the top of the first row of icing. Clean your spatula once more and grab your next color.
Repeat this process until you get to the last row, but don’t do the last one!
Step 3: A Cake Is (Almost) Born
With your top color icing, dump a dollop on the top of the cake. Using a back and forth movement, start spreading your icing along the top of the cake, pushing it towards the outside. You’ll start to create a lip of icing.
Before it falls, turn your hand vertical with the flat part of your spatula pressed against the side of the cake, and with the same movements, start filling in your last one-inch gap around the top layer.
Once your top layer is complete, use the bottom of your icing spatula and work from the outside to the inside to smooth out the top of the cake, and get rid of excess icing.
Step 4: Give Your Cake a Twirl
Here comes the best part! If it’s possible, I recommend getting an icing scraper, but if you don’t have one, your icing spatula will still work.
Line your spatula up vertically, with the top part being on the bottom of the cake. *GENTLY* press your spatula into the icing and *SLOWLY* rotate your cake.
Make sure you wipe your spatula clean as often as you can.
Shannon Tip #9
- If you press too hard into your cake, you’ll remove too much icing, exposing the sponge.
- If you don’t press hard enough, you won’t get the beautiful blended effect as shown in the pictures above.
Step 5: Cake Frosting
Whether you want to add sprinkles, fruit, chocolate shavings, or anything in between, now is the time to have fun with it! Be as creative as you like or leave it simple. The possibilities are endless! The tiny human I made these for loved every face-smearing bite and I won’t lie, hearing her say “Sannnnnnon! More cupeycakes!” was the icing on the perfect weekend for me!
If you use these techniques, make sure to tag us on social media with the hashtag #cakesoverseas.
Woo-Hoo! You’ve learned all about making your own cake!
- – But if it’s not for you, why not order one?
- – Add a little sprinkle to your day by signing up for our Newsletter.
- – Enjoy our future buttercream blogs and other subscriber savings.
- – Smile and Eat Cake.
Shannon Youngblood is a thirty-something blog writer who has an affinity for falling and an extreme love for dachshunds, Dr. Who, and musicals. She loves to write, regardless of the subject matter, and she wishes everyday could be Halloween! Although she was born and raised in the United States, her lifelong goal is to retire somewhere in Europe with her husband, her books, and a cup of hot coffee.