Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Half-Birthday Cartoon Cake

As a tradition, my sister and I have always enjoyed celebrating half-birthdays.  We never do anything major for half-birthdays, but we at least acknowledge them, and sometimes we make each other little cakes.  This year, instead of making a mini cake, I decided to make a half-cake for my sister's half-birthday.  In my head, I was sort of picturing the "un-birthday" cake from Disney's Alice in Wonderland, so that was my inspiration for this cake.

To start, I prepared a cake mix according to the directions on the box, poured it into two six-inch pans, and baked it for 40 minutes.  When the cake had cooled, I cut each layer in half.  I only ended up using three of the halves.  Once they were filled, stacked, and frosted, I covered the cake with fondant.  

Initially, I thought that I would cover the whole cake with one piece of fondant, but I ended up changing my mind at the last minute.  I rolled out a strip of fondant (about 4 1/4 inches tall and 19 inches long) onto a piece of parchment paper.  Then I cut the parchment paper to be the same size as the fondant strip, lifted the whole thing up and stuck it to the cake so that it went all the way around, meeting in one of the corners.  Then I peeled away the parchment paper.  This left a little bit of excess fondant on the top (since the cake was only 4 inches tall) so I folded it down onto the top of the cake. 

Next, I used half of a cardboard cake circle to cut a semi-circular piece of fondant to cover the top of the cake.  (It didn't need to line up perfectly, since I knew it was going to be covered with white fondant later.)

I used my clay extruder (with the biggest circle disc) to extrude the white strips of fondant for the "frosting" that looks like it is oozing out of the cake.  I attached it to the cake in a random wavy pattern, pressing it up/down with my fingers as I stuck it to the cake with piping gel.  The clay extruder isn't really necessary for this part - you could roll it out in your hands instead, since it doesn't need to be a consistent thickness throughout.

For the top section of white "frosting," I rolled it out in my hands, intentionally making the thickness inconsistent.  Then I attached it around the top edge of the cake with piping gel.

For the back (flat side) of the cake, I used a flat disc in my clay extruder to make the lines.  Again, the clay extruder isn't completely necessary; you could roll out and cut straight strips of fondant.  I also added an additional strip of pink fondant on the top edge of the cake.

To make the "whipped cream" that the cherries are sitting on, I rolled out strips of fondant in my hands and coiled them up.  For the cherries, I used pre-made red fondant (Wilton Decorator Preferred), made a ball by rolling it in my hands, and then poked a hole in the top with the top of a paintbrush.  For the stem, I used a small amount of brown fondant, rolled it in my hands until it was really thin, and attached to the cherries with a dab of piping gel.

To make the candle, I rolled a log of white fondant in my hands and poked a skewer through it, leaving a small piece of the skewer sticking out of the top for the flame.  Then I used the clay extruder to make a long strip of blue fondant and rolled it around the white part, attaching it with a little bit of piping gel.  I made the flame by putting a small amount of golden yellow food coloring into a little chunk of fondant.  I didn't mix it completely, because I wanted it to have a marbled effect.  I balled it up in my hands, and then stuck it onto the top of the skewer.  Then I pinched and twisted the top of the flame until it had the shape that I wanted.  I used a tiny piece of white fondant to make a wax droplet and attached it to the side/top of the candle with piping gel.  Then I stuck the skewer/candle into the cake.  I also sprayed it with some edible glaze to make it shinier so that it would look more like wax.

The last thing that I did was attach some confetti sprinkles to various parts of the cake using a little bit of piping gel. (Have I mentioned how much I love confetti sprinkles?)   And that's it!  

Happy 25 1/2 birthday, Tonya! :-)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Lemon-Blueberry Mini Bundt Cake Recipe

On this dreary, rainy summer day, I thought we could use something sweet to brighten our day... not to mention the fact that I have been looking for something to do with all of the blueberries that my husband has picked this week.  I scoured the internet, looking for blueberry cake recipes, and I ended up stumbling upon several lemon-blueberry cake recipes (perfect, since I LOVE lemon!).  Unfortunately, no single recipe seemed to be exactly what I was looking for, so I ended up combining three different recipes, and making a few additional alterations of my own.  Here is the recipe that I ended up with:

Lemon-Blueberry Mini Bundt Cakes
(Makes about 20 mini bundt cakes)
Cake Ingredients:
1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 C vanilla yogurt (or plain yogurt)
1 C sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 C vegetable oil
1 C fresh blueberries

Lemon Sauce Ingredients:
1/4 C lemon juice
1/4 C sugar

Glaze Ingredients:
3/4 C confectionery sugar
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Grease and flour mini bundt cake pan.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients while whisking.  Then slowly add vegetable oil.  Once all ingredients are incorporated, fold in blueberries.  Pour batter into mini bundt cake pan (a large cookie dough/cupcake scoop works well for this) and bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. 

While the cakes are baking, make the lemon glaze by combining 1/4 C lemon juice and 1/4 C sugar in a small saucepan and cooking on medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear.  Set aside.

When the cakes are done, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes.  Once the cakes are cool enough to be removed without breaking, (but still warm) place them on a wire rack over a cookie sheet or wax paper and use a baking brush or a spoon to cover the cakes with the lemon sauce.  (The cakes will soak this up like a sponge!)

While the cakes continue to cool, prepare the glaze by mixing the 3/4 C confectionery sugar, 2 tbsp. lemon juice, and 1 tbsp. maple syrup together until smooth.  Set aside.

When the cakes have cooled completely, add a few fresh blueberries to the center, and drizzle the glaze over the tops of the cakes.


*Inspiration for this recipe came from the following sources:

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Minnie Mouse Cake Tutorial

I made this Minnie Mouse cake to look like a cake from Benedetta Rienzo Cakes that someone showed me.  The bottom tier was 10 inches, the middle tier was 8 inches, and the top tier was 6 inches.  

* 24-oz box of Wilton Decorator Preferred Fondant - Black
* 24-oz box of Wilton Rolled Fondant - Hot Pink
* 5-lb box of Wilton Decorator Preferred Fondant - White
* 14-inch cake board (decorated however you prefer)
* Tappits Funky Alphabet cutters
* Mickey Mouse cookie cutter (or use two different sized circle cutters)
* Piping gel, edible glue, water (or whatever you prefer to use to glue fondant together)
* Cardboard cake circles, dowels, and whatever tools you prefer to use to stack cakes
* Small piece of cardboard and some skewers or toothpicks for the ears
* Clay extruder or long ruler for the black ribbon

This cake had several components that I was able to make in advance, which turned out to be very beneficial for me because I ended up coming down with viral labyrinthitis (a problem with my inner ear that caused me to feel dizzy and nauseous), which almost prevented me from completing this cake.  If I hadn't made portions of it in advance, there is no way that I would have completed it in time.

A few days prior to baking and assembling this cake, I made the ears, the little balls of fondant, and all of the bows (the big bow on top, the medium-sized bow on the bottom tier, and the five little bows for the middle tier).  

To start, I used a 3.5-inch cookie cutter to trace two circles onto a piece of cardboard.  Then I cut out the cardboard circles and cut the bottoms of the circles to make it so that the ears would sit flat on the top of the cake.  Then I stuck my wooden skewers up through the center of each of the circles.  Next, I rolled out some black fondant and used the same cookie cutter to cut four circles (two for each ear - back and front).  I brushed some piping gel onto the cardboard to attach the fondant circles to each side, and then smoothed out the seams around the edge of each ear where the fondant from front and the back met.

 Next, I created the big bow.  If you would like to see how I make my bows, please check out my tutorial on my Princess Cake blog.  I ended up needing to make this bow a little bit bigger than I thought it should be because I collapsed the bottom of the bow so that the "knot" would be sitting directly on top of the cake.  Once I got the loops of the bow the way that I wanted them, I put some rolled up paper towels in the center to help them keep their shape while they dried, and then I attached each of the loops to an ear with piping gel.  Then I added the knot.  Lastly, I rolled out some white fondant and cut out circles for the polka dots using a frosting tip.  I attached the dots with a little bit of piping gel.

 The next piece that I made was the medium-sized black bow.  I used the same process; I just made it about half the size of the bigger bow.  Then I made the little bows, which was much simpler.  For each little bow, I used three half-inch squares of pink fondant.  For two of the squares, I took the top and bottom corners from the same side and pinched them together to make triangles (to look like the loops of the bow).  Then I put the pinched sides of each triangle facing each other.  Then I used the third square as the knot.  I folded it almost in half, so that one of the edges stuck out a little bit farther than the other, and wrapped it around where the triangles met.  It probably sounds more difficult than it actually is... In the picture below, you can see the first two squares that were pinched to make triangles, and the third square that was folded and wrapped around the center. (It's probably easier to see than to explain!)  I ended up making far more of these than I needed; I only ended up needing five.

Here is a photo of everything drying: 

I also decided to make the balls in advance - while sitting on the couch watching TV. :-)  These don't need to be done in advance, but you never know when you might have a setback (like getting sick) while working on a cake, so I always prefer to do as much in advance as possible.  I ended up making about 40 balls of each color. 

The last piece that I did in advance, was prepare the cake board.  I considered covering it with white fondant, but since I knew that the skirt would end up covering the majority of the board, I decided to use paper with clear vinyl contact paper over it.  I also found some pink tape with white polka dots, so I ended up using that instead of ribbon to go around the edge.

Two days later, when I was finally able to get myself off of the couch, I baked the cake, iced it, covered it with fondant, stacked it, and decorated it.  Needless to say, that was a long day/night!  I usually like to bake/frost/cover/stack my cake one day, and decorate the next day, but it just didn't work out that way.  I covered the bottom tier with white fondant, the middle tier with pink fondant, and the top tier with white fondant.  Then I stacked them and began decorating.

I prefer to work from the top down.  I'm not sure why, but it just seems to make sense.  So to start, I added the ears and bow.  I wasn't sure how stable this topper would be, since it ended up being kind of heavy due to the amount of fondant that I used for the ears, but it ended up being sturdy with no additional reinforcement.  I also added a white rope border with my clay extruder - this part wasn't really necessary, but it looked like it needed a bit more dimension.

Next, I added the polka dots to the top tier.  I used a 1.5-inch cutter for the dots.  I used the same cutter for the half-dot border (I just cut each dot in half).  I used the same cutter for the half-dot border on the middle tier.  Then I added the balls around each tier, attaching each one with a liberal amount of piping gel because those little buggers just kept trying to roll away!  Then I used my Mickey Mouse cutter to cut the heads for the middle tier (two different sized round cutters would have done the trick, as well), then I added a little bow to each head.  There ended up being five heads in all.  Next, I rolled out some white fondant and used a sharp knife to cut out the number 1 (since I didn't have any cutters that were that size).  It ended up being about three inches high.

The bottom tier was my favorite part to work on.  I was really looking forward to making the skirt (although, that excitement didn't last long since it was about 10:00 PM at that point).  I started by using a sewing tool to make little holes all around the circumference of the bottom tier (so that I could use it as a height reference).  To make the skirt, I cut several two-inch squares (around 35 in all, but I only made four at a time), folded one side into the middle (to make the pleat), and then brushed a layer of piping gel onto the top side of the square to attach it to the cake.  Then I used the next square to overlap the previous square.

I used my clay extruder to create the ribbon that went around the top of the skirt, and then attached the black bow, with a bit of piping gel, where the ends of the ribbon met.  

The last piece that I added was the name.  This was my first time using my Tappits cutter, and it is definitely going to take some getting used to.  What worked best for me was rolling out the fondant very thin, allowing it to harden for about ten minutes, and then dusting corn starch on the cutters before using them.  Even though it was a bit of a hassle, I really do like the font.

Here is the finished product: (I even added some pink striped wrapping paper to my backdrop!)


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Strawberry Cake Tutorial with Recipe for Homemade Strawberry Filling

My husband's grandmother surprised us with an unexpected visit, so I decided to make a simple cake to celebrate her arrival.  Since we had recently picked some of our first strawberries from our garden, I wanted to showcase our harvest by incorporating them into the cake.  I was able to find a simple recipe for strawberry filling, which was sweet but not overly sweet.  I ended up having twice as much as I needed to fill this three-layer six-inch cake, which was great because there was enough left over to give everyone an extra scoop (yum!). 

Strawberry Filling Recipe

*  1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped strawberries
*  1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
*  1/4 cup sugar 

Boil for two minutes, stirring constantly.  Allow mixture to cool completely before applying to cake.

This cake was pretty simple to make.  I made a basic vanilla cake and tinted the middle layer pink.  While it was baking, I made the strawberry filling and the bow. Here are a few pictures from the bow-making process.  If you want the complete bow tutorial, check out my Princess Cake blog.

I made the dots by rolling out a thin layer of white fondant and cutting them out with a frosting tip.  Then I attached them to the bow with a tiny bit of piping gel.  I used paper towels to help the bow keep its shape until it had firmed up enough to hold its shape. 

While the cake was cooling, I made some leaves and flowers.  I'm certain that I took pictures during this process, but somehow they seem to have disappeared from my phone...  It's okay, though; this part is pretty easy to explain.  To make the flowers, I rolled out some white fondant and used one of my small flower cutters to cut each flower.  Then I made a small indentation in the center and added a tiny ball of yellow fondant.  For the leaves, I used my smallest rose leaf cutter to cut the fondant, then pressed it onto a veining mat (making lines with a knife/toothpick would have worked, too), and then pinched the base shut.

By the time I had completed this part, the cake was cool, so I leveled it, filled it, stacked it, frosted it, and covered it with fondant.  I used a six-inch cardboard cake circle as a guide to cut out a circular piece of white fondant for the top.  Then I rolled out/cut a piece of green fondant, about 19 inches long and 4 1/2 inches tall, to go around the cake.  I applied it to the cake by rolling it around my rolling pin, and then unrolling it around the cake.  Then I used my clay extruder to add a white border around the top of the cake.

Next, I placed the bow on top, brushing on a thin layer of piping gel to keep it in place.  Then I added four clusters of three leaves around the cake.  I used a small paintbrush to brush piping gel on the cake where I wanted the vines to be, and then I used my clay extruder to make the vines.  Once the vines were in place, I started adding strawberries and flowers.

To make the strawberries, I rolled pre-colored red fondant in my hands and then flattened the back sides of the berries on the counter.  Then I attached them to the cake with piping gel.  Once they were on the cake, I poked little holes in the berries to look like seeds, and then I added a chunk of dark green fondant above the berries for the crown.  I used the curved pointy tool (I can't remember what it's called) to give the crown some definition.

Then I added a few unripened strawberries - my two nephews' favorite kind to pick!  For these berries, I used white fondant, and brushed them with green petal dust.  Then I went around the cake and added berries and vines anywhere there seemed to be gaps.  Here are some zoomed in photos of some of the berry clusters:

To finish the cake, I made a second border to go around the top of the cake (inside the white border).  I did this by extruding two long, thin pieces of green fondant and twisting them together.  I also extruded a flat ribbon border for the base of the cake.  And that's it!  My grandmother-in-law loved the cake (she thought it looked like a hat box) and my nephews enjoyed the unripened strawberries... I told them that I added those berries just for them. :-)

Here are several photos of the finished cake from a variety of angles:



left side



my favorite angle :-)

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Toddler Art Birthday Cake

I really wanted to make a special cake for my mother's birthday, but I was struggling to think of things that she likes that could be converted into cake.  After some careful consideration, I realized that the thing she loves most is spending time with her grandchildren. :-)  Fortunately, my two-year-old niece, Lily, was spending the day with me so I got to use her creativity for my mom's cake.

I knew that I wanted to incorporate Lily's artwork somehow, but I was reluctant to let her just start coloring all over the cake... Yikes!  Luckily I had some wafer paper left over from another cake project, and I always have edible markers on hand, so I put Lily to work.  She ended up coloring three different pictures, which gave me lots of fabulous material to work with!  

For the design of the cake, I used some inspiration from two different tutorials that I recently saw online.  One was for the template that I used to cut the wafer paper (from and the other was for the confetti/streamers (from

For the circumference of the cake, I wanted a design that would cover a lot of space (and use lots of Lily's artwork), but I didn't want to just wrap the cake with wafer paper.  A couple of months ago, I saw a cake tutorial that I loved on that had a great template, so I decided to use that template to cut out Lily's artwork.  I ended up downloading the template from her blog and resizing it to fit my six-inch cake.  I printed out the template, traced it onto the wafer paper and cut out the design.  Then I brushed a thin layer of piping gel onto the back of the wafer paper and pressed it onto the cake, smoothing it out with my fondant smoother (I ended up applying it in two sections).

Next, I used a thin brush and applied a small amount of piping gel onto the cake, just above the wafer paper.  Then I used my clay extruder to extrude a long strip of fondant onto a piece of wax paper.

Once I extruded a piece of fondant that was long enough to go around half of the cake, I lifted it up and applied it to the cake, just above the wafer paper.  To make the loops on the top, I added a little bit of piping gel to make the loops stick to the cake.  Then I repeated the same process for the second half of the top, and for the bottom of the cake, just below the wafer paper.

Next, I brushed some piping gel in random spots on the top of the cake and along the base and added some confetti sprinkles.  Then I dug through my fondant graveyard (leftover fondant from previous cake projects) to find lots of different colors to make the ribbon/streamers).  I rolled out a small amount of each color, cut it into thin strips of various lengths, and curled the fondant around my pencil.  After letting it dry for a couple of minutes, I removed the ribbons from my pencil and curved them.  Then I placed them randomly on the cake.  Once I got the ribbons the way that I wanted them, I attached them with piping gel.  

And that's it!  I wonder if Lily will recognize her artwork tomorrow when she sees the cake. :-)