Let the Cake Marathon Begin

Ballet Dress Cake Detail- 2015

Since timing and events aren’t working out this year, we have to push BG’s birthday celebration with family to later in the week instead of doing it all on the day.  We will still do birthday stuff with her on her birthday, so that means 2x the cake.  She requested cupcakes for on the day and the big, decorated cake for the family event.  The cupcakes aren’t going to be anything all that special, just box cake mix and icing.  The big cake is going to be a whole other deal and is going to take a bit of time.  Starting today I have cakes and cupcakes to bake and I’ll probably start on mixing up the icing and fondant so I have them ready to go.

For me, a cake project is always a multi-day event with usually a full day devoted to baking and prepping followed by at least one day of assembly and decorating, depending on how elaborate the cake is.  I’ve done a couple of cakes where it took close to 3 days to fully complete if I have a lot of external decorations (like gumpaste flowers), but most are just two.  I expect this one to be a two day project, but I’m getting started with most of the prep early because I’m going to be needing to bake the cupcakes today anyway.

When I say a day, I really mean a day.  I’m usually in the kitchen from about 8 am until close to dinner time, depending on how much I need to get done in a day.  Some of my bigger projects had me working again after dinner until close to bed time.  That time isn’t always non-stop work as I spend some time waiting for cake to come out of the oven, but I’m often either cleaning or prepping the next step in those breaks, so I can say that time counts.

I do freeze my cakes at least overnight, so I have to have at least those two days.  I’ve found that it is way easier to level and ice the cake if it is very cold.  Plus, it seems that freezing the cake does something to it that keeps it really moist.  So often when I’m making just a vanilla or chocolate cake, I will just use a box cake mix because it is quick and easy and honestly is just as good as most anything I could make from scratch.  I do have a great chocolate cake recipe I use sometimes, but it is so moist and light it really isn’t conducive to holding layers or shaping.  The box mixes are a known quantity that I know works and tastes great for most any project.  They do tend to be a bit more dry, which is good and bad.  Good because they are more solid and can handle the weight of a tall design or stand up to cutting or carving to shape.  Bad because no one likes dry cake.  Freezing seems to have solved that problem.  That and learning a long time ago to bake the cake until it is JUST done and not over bake has made a world of difference in how my cakes turn out.

This cake project is going to have a bit of both box cake and made from scratch.  It will be the first time I’ve done a big design in this kind of cake, so I’m coming at this with my fingers crossed and hoping like crazy that what I have in my head translates into the cake.

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Author: TJ Fox

Slightly sane artist, book addict, wife and mother of 3 who is forever rethinking her place in this world.

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