Making “fun cakes”

Travel Suitcase Cake

Ever since I was a child, I have always been in or around the kitchen. I used to sit on our kitchen counter and watch my mother cook. She used recipes, but rarely, often amending something to her own tastes or creating what she called an “ooba dooba”, or a made-up recipe. She liked to create, and from this, I learned how to create.

My favorite part of being in the kitchen with my mother was watching her decorate cakes. We had a book full of cake designs (this was pre-internet, mind you) and my mom worked her way through the book, making my sister and I a variety of “fun cakes” for our birthdays. There was a clown cake, a t-shirt cake, and a caterpillar cake amongst many, many others. When we got AOL, my mom started browsing cake ideas and learned how to take a bunch of pictures of differently themed cakes, and then create her own version (including a graveyard cake for a halloween party and a sleepover cake for my 13th birthday.)

Each cake decorating experience created a bond between my mother and I, brainstorming ideas to make our cakes crazier and better (or, to quote Duff Goldman, to make them “bigger and badder”.) In the year since we’ve had cable, my mom and I have been intrigued, nay, obsessed, nay, addicted to all shows cake decorating. I am the type of person who loves a challenge, and loves creating a wild task for myself which I then try to complete. My mom, being the teacher of the family, likes to think things out and make a plan first. Armed with our tv knowledge of cake decorating, we set out to make a bunch of themed cakes. It started with the LOST cake for my sister’s birthday (also our first attempt at fondant), and then continued until we could cover a cake with fondant to look like a travel suitcase (much easier said than done).

Last month, my mom and I decided it was time to learn to decorate cakes….the right way. So we googled Wilton, the mecca for baking products, and found a local class every Saturday for four weeks. Neither my mom nor I wanted to even be tempted to eat a regular cake, so we turned to our favorite new cookbook (Easy Gluten-Free Baking) and made two chocolate cakes (abso-lutely delish, btw!) We learned how to cut our cakes in half and fill them with jam (Tip: Use a piping bag with white icing to pipe around the perimeter of the cake where you will be putting your jam. This will prevent jam from seeping out of your layer cake). Finally, after icing our cakes with white icing (posts to explain how to do this forthcoming), we were able to decorate! The basic course moved quickly, but by the end we were making flowers, creating borders and writing in both print and script. Since our class ended we have been practicing, and I have attempted cupcake decorating. It’s definitely a learning process, and it’s not something you’ll learn overnight, but with practice it gets so much better. So grab your tips and piping bags and start icing! (Just don’t eat all of the icing in the process!)

(Use Tip 16 to make stars)


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4 responses to “Making “fun cakes”

  1. Pingback: Happy Easter! | (Mainly) Gluten Free in NYC

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  4. Pingback: A Father’s Day Citi Field Cake (Part II) | (Mainly) Gluten Free in NYC

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