I don’t know how you like to celebrate, but for me and my family it’s with food! I am naturally much more interested in baking than cooking. If I’m 100% honest, I don’t worry too much about the presentation of normal food. It’s meant to fill you up and taste good. And be efficient. I don’t need a lot of garnish or flowery presentation with dinners. Dessert on the other hand… Bringing out dessert at the end of a meal is a show in and of itself. Or sitting out, waiting for it’s time to shine; dessert should be enticing. Therefore, I see decorating cakes as another art form. A delicious one.
I made a half-sheet cake for my parent’s anniversary. It was a lemon cake with fresh strawberry filling and buttercream frosting. I put it on a Wilton board and brought it over in a white box to keep it protected. Even though my frosting job wasn’t the best, my family still asked me where I bought it! Surprise! It was homemade!
Work Inside Jokes
My work team likes to change up how we review our progress. When we meet we discuss how things have been going by sharing highs-and-lows, roses-and-thorns, or my personal favorite, poops-and-rainbows. We’ve had humorous phrases come out of these exercises such as “We thought it was a poop, but it was secretly a rainbow!”
Well in honor of finishing a big project, I decided to make this cake inspired by our inside joke to celebrate.
Tips & Tips
Here’s a few things I’ve learned as a self-taught beginner.
+ For graduated circular pans- or adjusting baking time for any new shape/size there are million blogs/ tips about calculating how much batter you need. (It is a simple volume conversion.) It is almost impossible to find how to actually adjust the bake TIMES and/or TEMPs for these different shapes. I FINALLY found a great chart on Wilton’s official site: Cake Serving Guide. This guide was/is a life saver!
+ Cake colors for my rainbow cake were achieved with simple food coloring in different bowls. To bake, the first color is poured into the pan and baked 7-10 minutes until the top is spongy or no longer
+ To get a flat top to a cake without having to cut it, you can wrap wet bands of fabric around the pan to slow the cooking rate of the outside of cake so the whole thing rises evenly. (Apparently there are fancy things you can buy, but I DIY my flat-cake fabric strips).
+ Dressing up a box cake. I love to bake from scratch, however, I’m not so fancy that I can’t make or eat a cake from a box. Sometimes simple is helpful (for ease, time-saving… etc.). Some great ways to dress up a box cake are to make mix as directed then also add pudding mix (instant!) + sour cream (1 cup). This makes a very moist, rich, yet still fluffy cake. Or add fillings in between layers. Or add chocolate chips, caramel bits, or raspberry chocolate chips. Once upon a time, Nestle made several flavors of filled morsels part of the DelightFulls line. They are sometimes hard to find, but an easy way to make a grown up style cake.
+ Wilton Tips and actual frosting bags are WORTH it. I’ve gone the DIY cheap route- plastic sandwich bags and cheap-o plastic tips to create shapes…
– A flat frosting knife is nice, but not 100% necessary. Especially for smaller projects, the straight side of a butter knife works just fine.
– Nilla wafers look great for stability and shape, but if get a little soggy on top of cupcakes after a day (so if you frost/ decorate the night before, they are already meh on the day of the event).
+ Premade frosting is a good base. You can make shapes by molding it and cooling/ freezing it. If I need chocolate, I buy it. If I’m going to dye it colors, I make it. It is super easy to make frosting- even if you don’t have a fancy stand mixer like you see on the baking shows. A hand mixer works great.
What about you?
What was the most memorable dessert or cake from your childhood?
What inside joke would you make into a cake?