Birthday Party Cake! Tips and Tricks
One of the Highlights of a Kid's Birthday Party is the Cake!
You can buy the cake but cake decorating at home can be great fun, (the Wilton company is a great source of info on cake decorating.)
A few things to remember while decorating the Cake:
- Secure the cake to the plate with a glob of icing.
- Slightly freezing the baked cake will make it easier to ice.
- Do a "crumb coat" - skim a thin coating of (thin) icing over the chilled/slightly frozen cake, ( the crumbs will be stuck to the thin coat , it will look dreadful, but it will make the real coat of icing easier to apply.) You can then pop it back in the freezer for a bit.
The most important thing about icing a cake is this:
- You need to plop a large amount of medium icing (not too thin as it'll run, not too thick as it will tear up the cake) - then gently (gently!) spread/work the icing down over the surface of the cake.
- As the icing steadily covers more of the cake "real estate" the thickness of the icing will become closer to the proper thickness.
- The worst thing you can do is to apply little bits of icing one at a time picking up lots of surface crumbs as you work back and forth. The icing will be loaded with crumbs and won't look very attractive. Use a knife if you don't have a spatula.
Keep in mind that icing has 3 consistencies:
- Thin (good for piping icing)
- Medium (good for basic decorating and covering the cake)
Icing Recipe (via Wilton)
- 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine softened
- 1 teaspoon clear vanilla
- 4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (approximately 1 lb.)
- 2 tablespoons milk
First cream shortening and butter then add vanilla and gradually add sugar one cup at a time (icing will appear dry) then add milk and beat. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator (icing will last a couple weeks - you will need to rewhip before using). You can thin out the icing (for spreading) with a couple Tablespoons of corn syrup/milk/water. If you aren't concerned about the icing being a little bit yellow (from the butter) and would like better tasting buttercream icing - substitute the above shortening for butter and use ordinary vanilla rather than trying to find the clear vanilla.
This recipe makes about 3 cups of icing.
Other Decorating Tips
- Left-over icing freezes well
- Use Ziplock bags with one corner clipped if you don't have decorator bags
- If you want to get black icing ... start with cocoa powder which makes it a deep brown, and then you don't have to add a lot of dye (plus it tastes nice too!)
- The Wilton colours aren't as cheap as the standard grocery food dyes ... but they last forever , and will dye endless bowls of icing (definitely good value in the end!)
It is hard to get just the right cake topper for your theme party ... make your own from FIMO dough and make a small deep hole in the bottom so that later you can put the cake topper on a skewer.