Cake Decorating for the Artistically Challenged

Way back in September, I signed up for my turn at bringing snacks to the Little Flowers and Blue Knights meetings held at the same time same place. My turn was last Thursday. Normally this would entail loading the grocery cart with an appropriate number of juice boxes and pre-packaged snacks from a section of the store I rarely visit. However, since December’s family potluck banquet was canceled on account of snow, the leader decided to do an abbreviated celebration at this, our first meeting since then. She was going to buy cupcakes, but since I had volunteered for snack, I said that I would take care of it.

How many kids were there? I asked.

Thirty, she groaned, plus siblings.

It’s okay, I said. I’ll bring fifty cupcakes. Now what kind of a lunatic thinks she can mange to transport her own four Flowers and Knights, her neighbor’s three Flowers and Knights, a toddler, an infant in a carrier, AND fifty cupcakes? And, naturally, the difficulty of moving fifty cupcakes occurred to me the day after the recycle truck came and took away the last of the cardboard boxes from Christmas presents.

Thank goodness I forgot to buy cupcake papers when I bought the four boxes of cake mix and four containers of icing. Cupcakes were out, 9 x 13 cakes were in. I made two, and realized it wouldn’t be enough. I made a third cake using a bundt pan. Deciding I still needed another one, just in case, I removed one of the 9 x 13 cakes from its pan and made a fourth cake.

Cakes baked, I now needed to frost them. I could have just put the store-bought icing on them and been done, but I wanted the cakes to be pretty. I have not had much practice in making cakes look pretty. “Decorating” a cake around here means adding sprinkles. But I figured, armed with this fancy pastry bag, I would give it a shot.

I learned a lot.

First of all, using a template is a good idea. If you can’t draw a straight line, it’s likely that frosting in a straight line will not come naturally either.

Next, that pastry bag is great, most especially because it cleans up much more easily than a plastic pastry bag. But it is essential that you thoroughly dry the thing in between color changes. Failure to do so will result in unsightly drips.

Next, simple is good. If you have unused frosting, do not feel obliged to use it all up on your cakes. Just eat it. Or give it to the kids. Trying to make decorative squiggles just might ruin the whole look.

{I call this the Cockroach Cake.}

And finally, when all your work is done, keep your dog out of the kitchen. And if you forget to do this, and she gets a big lick on one big corner of one cake, do not think that chastising her will keep her from doing it again and ruining a second cake.

In the end, my neighbor drove the kids over because my car battery was dead. After a AAA jump, I took Pete and Mary, two whole cakes, 3/4 of a 9 x 13 cake, and 1/2 of a bundt cake to an appreciative group. I think three cakes would have been enough for 50 to 60 kids and adults. And one dog.

8 thoughts on “Cake Decorating for the Artistically Challenged

  1. Living in Texas, I have a “special” appreciation for your Cockroach Cake.LOL

  2. Michelle,I am sure your cakes were wonderful and all enjoyed them. As I mentioned < HREF="" REL="nofollow">here<>, I took the Wilton cake decorating class nearly twenty years ago, and thought I would share a little trick I learned. Find a picture of what you want on top of the cake. Then lay a sheet of wax paper over your picture. Using a pencil, trace the design. Flip the wax paper over. Using the smallest writing attachment of your decorating tips, pipe a thin line of icing over our traced lines on the wax paper. Now flip this back on the cake that has been iced with the background frosting. Gently smooth it down and rub your finger over the design outlines. When you peel off the wax paper the design outline stays and you can now fill it in with your colored icings. One caveat: you have to let the background icing sit for a while before you add the design or the background icing will just peel off with the wax paper.

  3. Thank you, Denise. I’ll try that next time!

  4. They look great, Michelle, and yummy! Like Nutmeg, I got a kick out of the Cockroach cake. I bet the boys loved it!

  5. Those cakes look so good. I giggled at the Cockroach cake. It’s cute! Glad everything turned out fine in the end. πŸ™‚

  6. Bocker just saw the picture of that last cake and said, “wait, wait, I think that’s pretty…let’s get it!” He really likes cake.I didn’t think “cockroach”. I thought it looked a little more like a funny alien!You went way beyond what I would have attempted!

  7. I think the cakes look good…and yummy.

  8. Those are so cute! I hate decorating cakes with a passion and have a birthday one coming up. The temptation to buy store bought is so strong, but then what kind of hypocrite would I be! πŸ˜‰ Well done!

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