My daughter celebrated her third birthday this weekend and, after hearing about my sister-in-law’s experience in making a few cakes just before me, I was able to learn a new secret for cake-decorating success: straws!
Using straws, a few other things, and a little help from my 3 children, I was able to present these cakes at her party:
Without the straws (Happy Housewife, you ROCK for the tip!) I bet the castle would have been slip-sliding away.
(I know, I got a little carried away with the whole cake buffet, but the castle cake was strawberry and so I felt I should also make an angel food cake for anyone with allergies. Never mind both were coated in sugar!)
So here’s how I did it and what those straws were for:
We decided on a castle cake pretty early in the game and, since I already have the Bundt castle mold, it made it a lot easier to fashion the castle part.
I wasn’t sure how much batter to use, though, so I did a little research and settled on one box plus about 1/3 of a box more. To make this easier (and not waste) I also made a batch of cupcakes for the birthday girl to take to school with the rest of the batter.
But back to the cake…
In using the Bundt, I consulted the Nordicware site and learned to spray the inside with a non-stick spray that also has flour like Baker’s Joy. I was in a time crunch and just picked up my grocer’s brand-equivalent and it worked beautifully. (The last time I used the mold I used the regular non-stick spray and still had some cake stick, so this one definitely helped.)
I filled the mold about ¾ full and then pulled some batter up the steps of the mold to help the batter rise there as it baked. (You can see some of the flour from the spray in this picture.)
I was worried about running out of cake (This was before I decided to make the angel food cake) so I also baked a 9 x 13 sheet cake to go under the castle. I put both cakes in the refrigerator until I was ready to decorate. (The lines on my sheetcake are from my cooling rack. Those aren’t anything a little frosting can’t cover. The green things are the straws. More on that soon.)
I frosted the sheetcake and then I did two things to support the castle:
1. I lined a cake circle with foil (any stiff cardboard will do) and placed the castle on top of it to give it a foundation.
2. I cut and placed straws in the sheetcake where the castle would go to support its weight and keep the cake from sagging or sliding.
Once my support was in place, I placed the castle on top with its cardboard tray and covered the foil under the castle with frosting, filling in any holes under the castle with frosting to give it even more of a foundation.
I fashioned a little drawbridge out of part of a Nerd box wrapped in foil and then frosted that and covered it with Nerd “cobblestones.” I poured some blue PopRocks under the drawbridge for water and went to town with Pez, Twizzler Bites, those puffy mint things from weddings and Smarties.
I invited my team of professional candy handlers to help with the task and armed them with those tiny pastel nonpareils. (We won’t go into a story about those from my youth here.) Two of them had a blast making patterns. The birthday girl had a blast sampling candy. I only ate one handful. And everyone won in the end. I added a few princesses and candles and we were almost party ready!
Next, while the kids played with Dad, I baked the angel food cake, cooled it in the ‘fridge and went scavenging for princess toys to decorate it. I thought about drawing a tiara along the side, but went with just sticking one on top instead… Much easier and still exciting for my daughter.
The cakes were a hit. But had it not been for the straw tip, I don’t know what would have happened. I am glad I didn’t have to find out!
I’ve had so much fun making and decorating our family birthday cakes lately. I used to book a bakery cake the moment after I decided on a party date. Now I’m having a blast making the cakes and have found that it can be quite easy when I use lots of toys for props.
Here’s a post featuring an Indiana Jones cake I made using some Legos, gummy worms and “dirt.” I made one for my husband with a toy kayak, bicycle and a few other things representing his hobbies.
This post is also linked to Homemaking Monday, another fun weekly spot to learn great homemaking ideas.