L.O.L Surprise! Themed Cake

This year for my youngest niece’s birthday she requested an L.O.L Surprise! themed birthday cake. And just in case you don’t know, L.O.L Surprise! are mini dolls that come in a toy ball. You have to peel away the layers of the ball to get to the doll. The layers include stickers, the dolls clothes and accessories and finally the doll. The surprise is not knowing what doll is in the ball. Oh and a little FYI the L.O.L stands for Lil Outrageous Littles. Granted, they have evolved into more than just a mini doll in a ball. They now come in different sized balls, big surprise balls, pets, and so forth. These toy makers have to strike while the iron is hot on any toy. The first themed cake I ever saw for the toy was a round ball similar to the ball the dolls come in. I wasn’t going to attempt something that extreme. I opted to go for something a bit simpler, but, still echoing the whimsical and fun nature of the dolls.

Initially I was planning on decorating the cake with fondant lollipops. I pretty much knew how to create them but I watched a few tutorials on YouTube just to be sure. I bought fondant in different colors, not my usual Wilton brand fondant, but one that I had used before, but, when I started making them it turned into a bit of a disaster (Insert the emoji of the girl with her hand to her head… LOL!). I am not sure if it was because it was warm that day or the fondant was just too soft, or a combination of both, but, my fondant kept thinning out when I tried to twist the fondant together as I created the lollipop. So much so that it would break before I was done winding the lollipop. I ended up with a few decent ones, but, I wasn’t happy enough with them to use them for the cake. Also, even after leaving them out for a few days the fondant never hardened.

My back-up plan was to buy lollipops I saw at my local party store if all else failed, but, I decided to try one more thing… Meringue Lollipops. To make the meringue I whisked together room temperature egg whites and sugar in the bowl of my stand mixer over boiling water. Once the sugar had completely dissolved I placed the bowl on my mixer and added in vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. Using the whisk attachment and setting the mixer to high I whisked the mixture until stiff peaks formed. Next, I divided the meringue into three bowls and tinted each one using gel food colors, gently folding the colors into the meringue. I spooned the three colors side-by-side on a piece of plastic wrap, folded the plastic wrap in half and then rolled the entire thing to create a cylinder shape, making sure to tightly wound the ends of the plastic wrap. I snipped one of the ends off and then dropped it into a piping bag I had fitted with a Wilton 1M tip. I then piped 1M swirls on a parchment lined baking sheet to create the lollipops and then gently inserted a lollipop stick into each. I baked them in a 200 F preheated oven for about 2.5 hours. The meringue has to be baked at a low temperature for a long period of time so it can properly dry out. I let them cool inside of the oven with the door slightly open and ended up with perfect (and edible) lollipops to decorate the cake with. I kept these stored in an airtight container until I was ready to use them.

Now, for the cake. I had every intention of baking the cake from scratch, but, box cake was on sale the week before and when you are planning on decorating a cake the same weekend you have a long list of other things to get done around the house the easy road is the way to go. I wanted the cake to have some height so I baked four 9-inch cakes using two boxes of Devil’s Food cake mix. I opted to use three of them and kept the fourth one to snack on. I made the cakes the night before and then wrapped them in plastic wrap and stored them in the refrigerator.

The next day I made two batches of my go to Fluffy Vanilla Frosting and an easy and quick chocolate mousse for the filling (I beat 1 cup each of whole milk and heavy cream along with a packet of Jell-O Instant pudding until creamy). I then torted the cake, filled it, and crumb coated it. I placed it in the refrigerator for a half hour while I tinted the remaining frosting.

 

I fitted three piping bags with different sized round tips and filled each with the tinted frosting.

Once the cake was ready I piped the frosting around and on top of the cake, smoothed it and then sprinkled some sprinkles on it. At this point I placed it back in the refrigerator so I could finish decorating it the following day.

 

The next day it was time to decorate. I had searched online for L.O.L Surprise! cut-outs and while I did find some that cost about $10, I also found a website with free clip-art. So, I decided to save my $10 and printed the clip-art out on cardstock and then cut out the dolls myself. Here’s a pic of my very technical way of getting the L.O.L Surprise! paper dolls on the cake. I place a piece of double-sided tape on the back of them, placed a lollipop stick on it and then used regular tape to hold it all together… it worked! I also placed a few of the cut outs on the front of the cake. For those pieces I taped a piece of wax paper behind them before adhering them to the cake with left-over frosting.

After a little positioning I got everything on the cake and was very happy with the final outcome.

   

For transporting purposes I had to remove all of the decorations…

But, I am happy to say that everything went back on just fine once it reached its destination. The Birthday Girl was very happy with it. What will the next themed cake be???

Mess Free Piping

I’ve been seeing people use plastic wrap inside of their piping bags for some time now- on other blogs, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.- especially when piping two or more colors together to create a fun swirl on a cupcake or to pipe flowers. I haven’t had a reason to try it until this past weekend when I decided to make chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting to go along with the carrot cake I made for Easter. Carrot cake is usually not a hit amongst kids so I decided I should bake something that was more kid friendly and you can you can’t get more kid friendly than a chocolate cupcake with colorful frosting.

After tinting the frosting I placed small amounts of it on a decent sized piece of plastic wrap as below.

Next I folded the plastic wrap in half and then simply rolled the entire thing to create a cylinder shape and tightly wound the ends of the plastic wrap so the frosting couldn’t “escape.” I quickly realized that I may have placed too much frosting on the plastic wrap since I didn’t have too much plastic wrap on the ends to wind together.

I then snipped one of the ends of the plastic wrap off and dropped it into a piping bag that I had already fitting with a Wilton 2D piping tip.

And I simply piped a large rosette on the cupcake to get this beautiful and colorful top.

I used the same technique to decorate the top of my Easter cake, using pastel colors to match the Mini Cadbury Eggs I placed on top of the cake. Instead of rosettes though, I simply decorated the cake with drop flowers, once again using the Wilton 2D piping tip.

In all honesty I think I will be using this plastic wrap method going forward with all of my cake decorating / piping. One of the things I dislike about using piping bag is no matter how tight I wind the top of the bag or use a rubber band to seal it, frosting always seems to seep out. And also, I just find it super messy having to refill the bag with more frosting while I am decorating. With this method I can simply remove the plastic wrap wrapped frosting and drop in another. Yes, I may be using extra plastic wrap doing this, but, it’s worth it.

Sprouting Carrot Cupcakes – Tutorial

With Easter right around the corner I decided to make some fun themed cupcakes to get in the spirit of the holiday. Today I am sharing with you these Sprouting Carrot Cupcakes and later this week I will be sharing with you Bunny Ear Coconut Cupcakes.

I began by baking a batch of chocolate cupcakes. While they cooled, I made the frosting. I made a basic buttercream frosting and then removed a third of it. In this third I stirred in melted unsweetened chocolate until it was fully incorporated. I tinted the remaining frosting orange and then transferred it to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip.

After the cupcakes were cool I used a paring knife to cut a small cone-shaped piece out of the center of each one. I crumbled these small pieces of cake into a small bowl and set it aside.

Next, I spread the chocolate frosting over the cupcakes leaving the holes open. I then patted the crumbled pieces of chocolate cake onto the frosting to resemble dirt.

To make the carrots I piped the orange tinted frosting into the holes and then mounded it a bit above the hole. And finally, I cut small pieces of green sour apple straws and placed them in the piped carrots.

And there you have it… Sprouting Carrot Cupcakes.

 

While I opted to make my cupcakes and frosting from scratch, you could easily go the time-saving route and use a box chocolate cake mix and store bought chocolate and vanilla frosting. If you opt for store bought frosting I would advise refrigerating the vanilla frosting after tinting it orange for about 10-15 minutes prior to piping the carrots. Store bought frosting tends to be on the softer side so decorating with it can be frustrating since it won’t take shape, refrigerating it helps to stiffen it.

 

Supplies:

12 chocolate cupcakes

1 cup chocolate frosting

1 1/2 cups vanilla frosting

Orange food coloring

Green sour apple straws

Piping Bag fitted with a round tip

 

 

Spring Themed Palette Knife Painted Cake – Tutorial

Happy First Day of Spring! To celebrate I decided to try my hand at a Palette Knife Painted Cake. Using a spatula and buttercream frosting you basically paint a picture, design, flowers onto the sides of a cake. It’s definitely a lot more forgiving that piping a design on a cake and cake easily be fixed with a little more buttercream and some extra strokes of your spatula.

I used a yellow box cake mix to bake a two layer 6-inch cake. While the cake was cooling I whipped up a batch of my go-to Fluffy-Vanilla Frosting from Martha Stewart. I reserved about 3/4 cup of the frosting and then applied a thin crumb coat to the cake and then refrigerated the cake for about 30 minutes. While the cake was in the refrigerator I tinted the reserved 3/4 cup yellow and tinted the remaining frosting teal, for the background of the cake.

I then applied a generous amount of frosting to the cake and smoothed it as much as possible. I wanted a fairly thick layer of frosting around the cake for the next steps.

Next, using the tines of a fork I created a basket weave pattern around the cake. To begin, I placed the tines of a fork at the base of the cake and dragged them upwards about 1-inch. You don’t want to press so deeply that you are touching the cake though, hence, having a thick coat of frosting on the cake. Then, holding the tines horizontally above the first set of lines on the left I dragged the fork to the right stopping when I reached the last line from the bottom set of lines. I repeated this pattern up the side of the cake until I reached the top. I then started the next row with a set of horizontal lines, and then vertical and so forth. Continuing the alternating pattern until the entire cake was covered.

I then reserved about a tablespoon of the teal frosting and then tinted the remaining frosting green by adding in green gel food coloring. Using a tapered spatula and starting at the base of the cake I began dragging the tip of the spatula through the buttercream to create stems. Making sure not to press too deep as to touch the cake, but, going deep enough to create a channel. I passed the spatula through a few times to make sure it was deep enough making sure to wipe the spatula between each pass. I did this around the cake and even added in a few smaller channels between the larger stems.

To paint these channels, I picked up a small dollop of the green frosting and then using my fingers I round the frosting onto the tip of spatula so it was smooth. Next, I simply dragged the frosting through the channels. I repeated this step – making sure to wipe the spatula between each pass – until all of my stems were painted with frosting. At this point I placed the cake in the refrigerator for about an hour.

After the hour, I removed the cake from the refrigerator. Using the reserved yellow buttercream I painted flowers onto the cake. Using a rounded spatula I picked up a small dollop of yellow frosting and once again smoothed it with my fingers. I then pressed the dollop onto the cake and pulled the spatula away to create a petal. I continued doing this around the cake. I’ll admit, my petal didn’t come out exactly as I had hoped. This step actually reminded me of the pulled dot design on a cake. I actually wondered afterwards if it would have been easier to create the petals using that technique, although then the cake wouldn’t completely be a palette knife painted cake then.

I got the idea for this cake from The Cake Blog, for more detailed instructions click here .

 

Pull-Apart Cupcake Christmas Wreath

If you want to make something extra special for your Holiday dessert but still want it to be simple this final Holiday Cake Week treat may be the one for you… It’s a Pull Apart Cupcake Christmas Wreath.

You will need 19 cupcakes to replicate the size wreath I created. I opted to use a chocolate box cake mix, but, feel free to use your favorite cupcake recipe. I went with a box cake mix to make this as easy and as quick as possible. Once the cupcakes cooled I arranged them on a 14-inch round cake board.

Next, I made my go to Fluffy Vanilla Frosting I always use for decorating. After tinting it green I used a Wilton 1M tip to pipe swirls on each of the cupcakes. Quick tip… Prior to frosting make sure the cupcakes are close together, practically touching, this way when you frost them you won’t have too many gaps between them.

Now it was time to decorate. I started off by creating a fondant bow. To do so, I rolled red fondant to 1/16-inch thickness. I cut four 6 x 1 1/2-inch rectangles. In two of the rectangles I cut out a triangle on one of the shorter sides. I also cut a 3 x 1 1/2 rectangle that I used for the bow center. To create the bow, I folded the two longer rectangles without the cut-out in half and stuffed the loops with tissue paper so they could keep their shape, I used a little water to adhere the ends of the rectangles together. Next, I wrapped the shorter rectangle around the two joined ends of the folded rectangle and used a little water to join the ends of the short rectangle. Finally, I placed the rectangles with the cut outs in the center of the bottom of the cupcakes and carefully placed the bow piece on top. You can use a little water to adhere the piece together if you are concerned about it falling off. To finish off the decorating I used snowflake candies, Sixlets and other candies to give the wreath a more festive look.

And that’s it! Feel free to switch up the colors. You could stick with white frosting and decorate with red and green for a festive look or with shades of blue and silver for a winter wonderland look. The possibilities are endless.

Mummy Cake

Are you looking for an easy Halloween cake to make? Well, this Mummy Cake might be the one. It’s simple, doesn’t take a lot of time and you don’t need any fancy cake decorating skills to make it. I got the idea and directions from The Cake Girls. They have an online shop with a bunch of cool baking supplies, recipes and step-by-step tutorials with detailed pictures. I first came across their website on a blog I follow, The Cake Blog. A blog that has an array of wonderful recipes and cake decorating ideas and instructions from various bakers and cake designers.

I purchased a skull pan from The Cake Girls website to create the mummy. Now, if you are a good cake carver you could simply bake a box cake mix (or your favorite cake recipe) in a 9×13 inch pan and then carve out the shape of a skull. Or, if you already own one here’s a new idea to put it to good use. I own quite a few shaped pans that I’ve only used once, but I won’t part with them just in case.

   

To begin, I sprayed the cake pan with baking spray and then poured my cake batter (I used a box cake mix) into the pan. I placed the pan on a baking sheet and baked it in a 350 F preheated oven until a cake tester inserted in the middle came out clean. I let the cake cool in the pan for a few minutes and then inverted it onto a cake board to cool completely. Don’t worry if your cake has a small dome on it and doesn’t lay completely flat. You will be able to hide this minor imperfection with the frosting design. Once the cake was cool I lightly wrapped it in plastic wrap and placed it in the freezer overnight. Having the cake cold makes frosting it much easier. This was my first time freezing a cake and while I know bakeries and a lot of home bakers do it all the time I have always been apprehensive to do so because I fear the cake will end up having a weird taste/aftertaste once it defrosts. But, I am happy to say that this was not the case.

Before removing my cake from the freezer I made the frosting. I decided to make the frosting that was recommended on The Cake Girls website, Brenda’s Bakery Buttercream. It involves using butter and Crisco, which I am sure some people will frown at, but, when I took the Wilton Decorating Classes a few years ago there go-to frosting recipe included Crisco and I recall it tasting great and holding its shape well when it came to decorating. Something else new I tried… Using chocolate frosting (store bought) to make black frosting. I recently read that making black and red frosting is easier to create when starting with chocolate frosting. I can attest that that is the case for black frosting, but, will have to test the theory for red frosting. Perhaps with a Christmas themed cake. Oh, one other thing I tried, Wilton’s new Color Right Performance Food Coloring, for some reason I thought it was only for chocolate (don’t ask me why) but after doing a little research I learned it can be used on frosting. I believe I saw a video on Instagram of someone using it and that prompted me to find out more about it. I must say, I definitely liked the dropper bottles a lot more than their usual gel color containers. I always seem to get the gel on my hands and they get all clumpy and what not after being opened. I think the dropper bottles are the way to go. They are also supposed to be more concentrated so you can get the color you want a lot quicker and can easily mix the colors to get different hues.

Okay, so once my frostings were ready it was time to get to work. I started by applying a thin coat of white frosting on the skull leaving the eye socket area uniced. I iced the socket area and the sides of the cake in that area with the black frosting. At this point I placed the cake in the fridge for a few minutes because I found that the black frosting wasn’t smooth as I was getting a lot of crumbs mixed into it. While the cake was in the refrigerator I prepped two piping bags with two different tips, Ateco #128 (an XL rose decorating tip) and # 45 (a flat decorating tip), and filled each with the white frosting. Also, I prepped the eyeballs for the cake. I purchased Styrofoam eyeballs from my local craft store and using a sharp knife sliced them in half so they would sit flat on the cake.

 

Once the cake had chilled for a bit I added more black frosting to the cake and was able to smooth the icing.

Now it was time to decorate…Starting with the larger tip, I began piping stripes of icing across the cake. Not just merely on top of the cake, but on the sides as well. I covered up some of the black icing, but, left enough of a gap to place the eyeballs. I kept piping until the cake was covered. Don’t worry about minor imperfections or the frosting not laying completely flat, you can cover up anything and everything with the next step.

Once the cake had been covered in the large stripes, I used the smaller tip to fill in any gaps and to give the cake more definition. To give it a more ragged look, I started these smaller stripes from different points on the cake, not just edge to edge. I also added some pieces to the sides of the cake on the cake board as well. And finally, I placed the eyeballs on the cake. I covered the back of them with the black frosting before placing them on the cake so there wouldn’t be the chance of any small Styrofoam pieces getting stuck to the cake and accidentally eaten. What’s really nice about this cake is that there is no right way or wrong way to decorate it. You could go crazy with adding the stripes to give it a real ragged look, or keep it clean and simple with the stripes. Either way, your cake will look perfect.

Russian Decorating Tips

If you’ve been perusing decorated cakes on Instagram or Pinterest lately you may have noticed an influx of cakes decorated with some fancy and elaborate looking flowers. You may have thought to yourself that they require some advanced skill in cake decorating to create, but, the truth is, they only require specific types of decorating tips, a little patience and the right frosting consistency to replicate.

When I first started seeing them I did a little research and discovered that the flowers were being created with decorating tips known as “Russian Decorating Tips.” After a little more research I discovered that these tips have nothing to do with Russia. So, how did they get their name? Per another blogger, I Am Baker, they got their name because they were being sold by a company called Ali Express and they named them “Russian Tips.” At the time I didn’t feel like ordering a set over the internet, but, not too long ago I discovered that my local AC Moore began selling a set of 8 (along with an extra-large coupler to use with them) for less than $10. Truth be told, you don’t need the coupler. You can just cut your decorator bag and drop the tip in. I would suggest using a 16-inch decorator bag with these tips as opposed to a 12-inch one.

 

Unlike traditional decorating tips from Wilton & Ateco, these tips do not have numbers on them. The tips have a laser cut design on the end that allows the frosting to be piped through and form the different flowers. I will say that some of the tips are easier to use than others. Some of the designs, especially those that have detailed centers meant to emulate the stamen & stigma part of the flower, take a little more practice to master. One other thing that is different is the way you pipe them. With your usual tips you sometimes have to add a little wrist twist to get the flower design, or, you have to hold the bag at a 45 degree angle. But, with these tips you hold the bag at a 90 degree angle about an inch or so from your cake (or cupcake) and squeeze for a few seconds to form the flower. Before piping the next flower I would suggest wiping the tip clean to get a nice flower for the next pipe.

Like I mentioned earlier I purchased a set of these tips from my local AC Moore store. I can’t remember how I knew they carried them; I probably saw something on their Instagram feed. I decided to hold off on using them until I made my Mother’s Day cake. I did test them out using store bought vanilla frosting and as I had suspected and had read a little bit about, the frosting was too thin to get a well-formed flower. All of my test flowers looked like little blobs of frosting as opposed to a flower.

So, using my go-to Fluffy Vanilla Frosting that I then tinted in 4 different colors I began decorating the top of my cake. I was soon a bit frustrated with some of the tips. The flowers weren’t piping well and even though the frosting was a stiffer consistency the centers of the flowers weren’t looking nice. So, I decided to switch the tips I had chosen to use. Soon enough I got the hang of it and ended up with a flower topped cake I was content with. It wasn’t until I added in leaves (using a Wilton 352 tip) that I piped around the cake and in between the flowers to fill in the gaps that I was truly happy with the outcome.