Monday, January 31, 2011

Adventures in Cake Decorating: Day 1

I've always been fascinated by those cake shows on Food Network and TLC. The cakes on those shows are tall and pristine. Almost too beautiful to eat, almost. It's an art form this artistically challenged momma has always wanted to learn. The one thing I lacked was the motivation to get started.

Upon the eve of my little guys 6 month birthday, it's dawned on me that he'll be having a 1st birthday party in 6 months (duh)! Then I thought to myself how cool it would be if I could make his birthday cake. After the initial excitement wore off, a little knot in my stomach showed up reminding me how little artistic capacity I have. So, I have set a goal to practice 'icing art', as I like to call it, so that by next August I'll have enough skill to make a pretty (notice I didn't say beautiful) cake for my sons 1st birthday. What better way to keep track of my progress than to chronicle it on my blog! So, please grab your popcorn, sodas, pickles, whatever you'd like and enjoy the show. You're in for some highly entertaining pictures.

To begin this journey, I ventured over to to order some supplies I'd need to practice with. After comparing the different kits they offered, I finally decided on the Wilton 53 Piece Supreme Cake Decorating Set . I chose this set because it included a Beginners Guide, an offset spatula, disposable piping bags, 2 tip couplers, icing coloring, and good amount of tips. That's pretty much everything you need to decorate a cake besides the frosting.

After whipping up a batch of buttercream icing, I fitted a piping bag with a coupler, added a tip and filled that sucker up with some icing. This was my very first time ever holding a piping bag in my hand. At first I found it very awkward to hold the soft, squishy bag. Once I got used to the feel of the bag, I tried squeezing out some buttercream I made to make a ribbon. Simple, right? Well, you can see for yourself:

I tried to make a ribbon first. As you can see, my first attempt turned out a little less than pleasant. Apparently I was holding the bag so that the tip was upside down, oops. Ribbon number 2 shows the most improvement, in my opinion. Ribbon number 3 is the most eye catching out of the three. Once I was done with the ribbons, I switched tips and tried doing some rosettes. They're not the best, but not awful either. The tail end of the rosettes kept sticking up and not lying flat. That's something I'll need to work on. I think my icing was too thick, I'll have to make a thinner batch next time.

Next, I tried doing the traditional shell edge. It's a pretty basic cake decorating technique and is seen on most cakes you buy from the bakery nowadays. One thing that felt odd to me was that you start from the right  and work your way left. Obviously this went against the Western doctrine of doing everything left to right that is ingrained  in me. It started out quite well, for a beginner, but by shell number six I lost my stride.

 After the shelled edge, I tried my hand at a zigzag puff. As you can tell, that crashed and burned miserably. It was so bad, I didn't even attempt it a second time. I needed something that I could pull off somewhat decently to give me to ego boost to carry on the mission at hand. So I switched tips and tried to do a basket weave. It was surprisingly simple, even though it doesn't look that great. But hey, it's my first time. Finally, I ended with some simple dots. At least I thought they would be simple. Those little suckers look deceptively easy. One would think that piping a dot of frosting would be the simplest thing ever, right? Well, this artistically challenged momma proved that theory wrong. As you can tell, I have A LOT to learn. But it's a start. Overall I think I did well for a beginner.

For fun, I piped on a cookie I had left over for my husband. It's supposed to be a heart and arrow with 'A + N' written inside. If you look very closely, you can sort of make it out.

As you all can see I have a lot to learn in the realm of cake decorating. But this is my start and I look forward to documenting my progress. A short term goal of mine is to be able to pipe a shelled edge around the perimeter of a heart shaped cake for Valentine's Day. We'll see how that goes.


  1. Very Cute, Nicole! I think your blog is so cute! After having made serveral cakes for my kids' birthdays, I am thinking your buttercream isn't stiff enough. Try adding some more powdered sugar to it. Also, remember that the longer you hold the pastry bag, the softer the icing gets. So if you are at it for quite a while, pop the bag in the freezer to make it cold again. Can't wait to see what fabulous cakes you create! xoxo, K. Pittman

  2. Well you have done way better than I have ever. I have no knack at all for cake decorating other than the basic spread it on stuff. Maybe there is a class somewhere that you could take in your area.
    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Hi there Nicole!

    My name is Steve Walters and I recently started blogging at, which is currently being updated with recipes, but in the next few months will be my vehicle for covering the food and restaurant scene in Bangkok Thailand.

    I am now in the process of meeting as many food bloggers as I can and I found your site recently and was pretty impressed. I've added your site to my Foodie Blogs list here: and would also like to add you to my blogroll.

    If you could add my site to your blogroll and write back to let me know it has been added (foodie [at] I will add you to mine as well and the exchange would be greatly appreciated!

    As you might imagine I am very excited to get moved to Bangkok and get started on covering the food scene there as I feel it is an area that isn't well covered by English speaking bloggers. I plan on adding loads of great reviews, pictures and even video and will be holding contests as well. It should be fun, entertaining and informative for everyone that visits.

    Thank you so much in advance for adding me to your blogroll and I look forward to reading your posts (I've subscribed!) and maybe even featuring some of your own posts as I do plan on a weekly roundup of Thai themed recipes and posts from other food bloggers.

    Warm regards,

    P.S. If you are on Twitter I would love to have you as a follower and I follow back:

  4. I haven't tried my hand on cake decorating but I'm looking forward to your future posts on this.