Dec 19 2006

Some cake Q&A

Published by at 5:20 pm under Cakes,cupcakes

I’ve received several questions about the cakes and cupcakes I make, so I thought I’d do a small Q&A for you all!

Q: What is your cake recipe?
A: Betty Crocker!! LOL!

There have been times in the past when I’ve made a cake from scratch, but those are few and far between! I’ve based my box mix choice by how long the cake itself stays moist, since it takes a week to make a wedding cake. I’ve found that Betty Crocker is excellent! I use the Super Moist line and haven’t been disappointed!

Duncan Hines runs a close second, for me. The difference being slight for when I do wedding cakes. I found that the wedding cakes done with those mixes dried out a bit in my climate. (Southern California)

Q: What is your frosting recipe?
A: The frosting recipe I use is the Wilton one, you can find it here: Wilton Buttercream Frosting

Note that this recipe uses butter and milk, by adding these to your recipe it requires the frosting to be refigerated. So if you are frosting the cake or cupcakes in advance, I would recommend refigerating them. The problem with this is that refigeration dries out the cakes. So as an alternative you can do this:

instead of 1/2c shortening and 1/2c butter, do 1c shortening. Make sure you get the WHITE solid shortening to ensure a bright white frosting. Crisco was the recommended brand of my instructor.

instead of milk, use water!

By eliminating the use of butter and milk, the need to refigerate the frosting is gone. So if you frost cakes or cupcakes the night before, you will not need to refigerate them.

However, it is rare that I make my own frosting since I started decorating wedding cakes. It would double my work and add to my cost to make it myself. So I was fortunate to find a frosting that is what I consider one step down in taste from the Wilton recipe at my local cake supply store. Unfortunately there is no brand name for this frosting, but if you’re in the area, Pila’s Pantry in Norco or Temucla carries it!

On a side note, the packaged Wilton buttercream you can find where Wilton products are carried is very good too! It’s just costly when you’re making a big wedding cake since I can only find them in the little frosting can. If you use these, be sure to read the label!! It gives you directions to dilute the frosting! It’s important to read this and add the required water when frosting your cake or you won’t have enough frosting to cover it.

As you can tell, I prefer buttercream frosting and never use whipped! So I have no pointers on whipped frosting.

Q: Do you have a recipe for chocolate buttercream?
A: I do not make my own chocolate frosting! By the time all the coloring is added to give the desired chocolate color, everyone would walk away with horribly colored mouths! GROSS!

I highly recommend the Wilton Chocolate Buttercream that you purchase where Wilton products are available. It tastes wonderful! Again, read the side of the label and dilute it as instructed.

Again, if you’re close to Pila’s Pantry, theirs is the one to get! Yummy!

Q: What tools do you use? i.e. decorating bags, tips, etc.
A: I’m a big fan of Wilton. It’s easily available with all the store chains that carry their products and it’s great quality!

I use their Disposable Decorating Bags. I HATE to clean out the fabric bags after they’ve been filled with buttercream frosting! Messy!! If I can use it and throw it away, that works for me!

For decorating tips, I only buy the metal tips. They keep shape better than the plastic ones, and I don’t have to worry about them melting in the dishwasher when little fingers push the button to heat dry. *rolls eyes* When using tips, don’t forget to use the couplers or your tip won’t stay in the decorating bag very long and make a big mess!

A turntable is another important tool for me when I’m decorating cakes. If you’re going to be serious about it, I highly recommending using your local craft chain’s weekly coupons and getting the Professional Turntable. If it’s just an occasional thing, then you could get away with using the Revolving Cake Stand. I don’t recommend going any cheaper than that.

Cake pans! Because of how much I bake, I have different types of pans. I have professional, heavy duty, saudered cake pans for the shapes I use the most. (circles and squares). They keep their shape and bake better. For shapes I don’t use as much (such as the petal pans for Darren and Tiffany’s cake) I use the Wilton cake pans. The difference is that the cake pans you find in stores that carry Wilton products are pressed pans. So the shape can be slightly imperfect or ding easily. So, consider how often you plan to use them and for what. The professional cake pans can be found at any good cake supply.

Notice how my cakes look flat and even on top? The secret is so simple! Cake leveler! If you plan on making big sized cakes, the Large Cake Leveler is for you. If you plan on making smaller cakes, basic birthday cake size, you can get away with the Cake Leveler.

Q: How do you get that look to the frosting on the cupcakes?
A: When frosting cupcakes I like to use a decorating bag and one of the large sized star tips. Sizes 32 or 199 are what I use most.

There is also this awesome tool called the Dessert Decorator Max that I picked up last year. When I use it, the cupcakes look very professional. This is also my secret to filling cupcakes! It comes with a tip exclusively for filling your cupcakes after they have baked! Just make sure the people eating them understand they are filled or they might throw them at windows! I couldn’t resist, Jen!

Just some random fun stuff:

Kids love cupcakes! And they are gaining more and more popularity with adults! I know some of us have always loved cupcakes, so it’s old news to us how great they are! To add fun to your cupcakes without having to be a “cake decorator,” pick up some of the fun sprinkles and GLITTERS by Wilton! Any time I add some of the glitter to cupcakes, they get “Ooooo”s. No matter how simple they are! As stampers we know what glitter adds to a card. Well, it adds the same punch to your cupcakes!

Now, if you are really interested in learing cake decorating, I highly recommend taking a cake decorating class. Preferably thru a local college. Lots of the community colleges offer open-campus classes. Check out your mailers for information on these or contact your local community college to find out if they offer these types of classes.

I know that local craft stores offer cake decorating classes, I have one thing to mention about these. I have talked to instructors who teach at the stores and gotten the feedback that it’s limiting. When they teach at the stores they are also there to sell the product found at that particular store. So they are limited to what is available for the student to purchase. This does not mean that they are any less qualified as an instructor, they just might limited as to what they can teach you, depending on product.

I took my classes at the local community college and that was also something told to me by my instructor. She has taught in both circumstances and preferred the college set up since she was able teach and not worry about what product was on hand or what she was perhaps told to “upsell”.

So, if you are considering taking the classes thru a local store, see if you can talk to some of the students and get a beat on how they feel about what they are learning in the class.

If you have any more questions about cakes, feel free to ask! I’ll do my best to answer them. I’m not a professional! Just somebody who enjoys cake decorating.

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Some cake Q&A”

  1. Mary says:

    No more questions. You answered so many more of the questions I wanted to ask but didn’t. Thank you very much for taking the time to answer all of the questions about cakes and cupcakes. I had thought about taking cake decorating classes at Michaels but will now wait to see if one of my local colleges will offer some classes. Thank you for explaining how you made your cupcakes look so professional. I think I might give that a try for now. 🙂


  2. Thanks for all the info Em – so cool! I’m a wannabe-baker, nowhere near your caliber but I hope to take some cake decorating classes sometime in the future.

  3. scoopy says:

    Wow – your cakes are amazing!

  4. Kimmie says:

    Awesome info!
    You mentioned the cake leveler – how do you get the frosting to go on without cake crumbs in it??? This is my biggest problem whenever I use it.


  5. Renee V. (aka: happystamper05 on SCS) says:

    I absolutely love your blog (even if your 12 days of Christmas questions are really hard …LOL!!!)
    Anyways, thank you for all this wonderful information. I just might be able to impress my children after all… (wink)
    Holiday Hugs,

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