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HOW'D YA DO THAT?
You're the envy of all the neighbors, a 90's sort of
parent, the kind every kid wants. You work all right -
at times, endlessly - it doesn't matter whether it's from
within or outside the confines of your home, work is
work. Yet, miraculously, you've found the time to create
a sensational birthday cake . . . a veritable "piece de
resistance," the stuff of every child's dreams!
Okay. Most likely only part of the above is true. In my
case, my mind overflows with creative ideas I just must do NOW, but
when birthdays roll around, I'm usually too exhausted to put them
A friend of mine used to order her birthday cakes from that
famous ice cream store or the local grocery's bakery until one day,
her creativity decided to pour forth the week of her youngest's
Her daughter was (and still is) a big fan of stuffed animals
and dolls, which I'm sure was the seed of this inspiration. One
morning she woke up with the design complete in her mind, including
what size pans to use, how to put them together, and how to
decorate the little darling. The secret was kept from her daughter
until the day of her birthday. Hugs and kisses were the reward
when her daughter saw the creation, a Raggedy Ann doll cake,
complete with red shoe-string licorice hair, chocolate Candy Melt
"button" eyes, red striped "tights" and, naturally, a candy heart.
The designs and instructions in this chapter are a
collaboration of ideas that came forth after teaming up with
Melonee Richards-Matheson, a friend who began "cake sculpting"
under similar circumstances. I offer my sincere appreciation and
gratitude to her for her creative input and guidance in the
creation of the cake sculpting instructions and recipes included in
Believe it or not, with just a few creative slices of a knife
(or even a cheese slicer!) you can create wonderful designs out of
ordinary shaped cake pans - round, square, rectangle, loaf, jelly
roll, muffin tins, spring-release pans . . . and the not so
ordinary pans - like casserole bowls and soda cans!
You can use our designs either as they appear here, or for
inspiration in creating your own masterpieces! And, unless it's to
be a surprise, be sure to get the input of the birthday child -
they can be a gold mine of imaginative ideas!
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EASY "PERFECT" CAKE BASICS
Are you one of those people who still can't bake a cake from
a mix? These tips will take the mystery out of "perfect" cakes:
Whether you're making a cake from mix or from scratch, if the
recipe does not already call for oil, add a third of a cup. This
creates a more liquidy batter which will bake more evenly and
produces a wonderfully moist cake. If you're making a white cake,
always add an extra whole egg (for increased volume).
Always, regardless of altitude, bake your cake in a preheated
300 degree oven (not 325 or 350 as directed on the boxes). Allow
cake to bake until center springs back when lightly pressed. The
time will vary with size of pans used.
Although less-expensive pans easily meet our sculpting needs,
consider buying good quality, straight sided professional pans the
next time the need arises - they'll last for years. When using
patterned pans, you must use non-stick spray, however when
possible, avoid greasing and flouring your pans. Instead, use
parchment paper on the bottoms of your pans. Parchment paper,
which can be found in cake decorating centers and some grocery
stores, allows edges of your cake to firm and not be greasy.
Simply trace bottom of pan onto parchment paper, cut, and place in
bottom of dry, clean pan.
Back a zillion years ago, home economics teachers told us to
tap batter-filled cake pans against the countertop in order to
release any trapped air bubbles. Not so, says my cake sculpting
friend. "If you want a nice, light, moist cake - leave the air
bubbles in! Only tap your pans if you want a firm, solid cake."
After baking, remove pans and cool five to ten minutes. Then,
go around cake pan edges with a sharp knife; allow cake to cool
completely. When fully cooled, remove from pans. For sculpting,
make cuts now, cover lightly, and place cake pieces in freezer
(store pieces flat - and overnight for best results). Freezing the
cake makes icing easier and cuts down on the dreaded "crumbleys."
(NOTE: Waxed paper can be used in place of parchment with the
following changes: As soon as cake is cool enough to touch, invert
pan and pull waxed paper off (or else it will stick). Proceed as
With your cake pieces tucked away in the freezer, prepare your
icing, and get your display board, colors, and decorating tools
ready for tomorrow's decoration!
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This is normally the section where you discover all the
complicated tools you simply must have to produce results similar
to ours. Not this time. We wanted to create cakes for you that
you could make without all the fancy, expensive, "tools of the
trade." You may already have some of these on hand:
Both a Plastic & Metal Spatula
Icing Tips You can find decorating tips in a good
hardware or craft store with a well
supplied cake decorating aisle. A basic
set could include the following: #2
small round tip for basic writing, #18 or
#22 Open Deep Star tips, and a #47 flat
serrated ribbon or basketweave tip.
Plastic tips are fine for this work, but
metal tips provide sharpest definition.
Decorating or Pastry Bags - These come in parchment (our
recommendation), washable vinyl or disposable plastic
Dowels, toothpicks, or small straws are sometimes needed
for connecting the cake pieces.
You'll need a board on which to display your masterpiece.
We'll go into some detail on this for the individual
cakes described herein, but you may also use a foil
covered breadboard or cake plate.
A ROOMY WORK SPACE!
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BASIC ICING RECIPE
This recipe can be kept in the refrigerator for
months! Designs such as flowers, made from the icing,
can be wrapped and frozen. Another plus of this icing is
that it comes out WHITE - which is a must when you're
coloring icing for decoration. With a butter or
margarine based icing - you have a yellowish tinge to
your base icing!
2 pounds, powdered sugar, sifted
1-1/4 cup white shortening
1/2 cup of water
1-1/4 teaspoon of flavoring - your choice
(example: 1 tsp. of butter and 1/4
tsp. of almond)
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Beat on lowest
speed until well blended. Continue beating for 3 to 5 minutes
to get a good consistency.
Divide and store accent icing into plastic, sealable
containers in amounts you will need for each color,
leaving the majority of icing in mixing bowl for base
color. Icing can then be colored with food coloring (for
light colors or pastels), but for dark colors, use
coloring paste or powder (found in cake decorating
stores). Coloring paste is preferred for it's staying
power and ability to hold its color without bleeding.
With this icing recipe, the color gets darker and more
intense as it dries. Let your mixer do the work of
coloring your base icing. (TIP: Use non-metal bowls
with icing or may discolor. Also, if you use a wooden
spoon for stirring, make sure it hasn't been used for
stirring spicy foods!)
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In the HOW'D YA DO THAT? chapter of the registered version of
CREATIVE PARTIES FOR KIDS you'll get: more recipes, cutting
diagrams and step-by-step instructions for creating a three
dimensional lion cake, a Raggedy Ann doll cake, race car & jet
cakes, a sand castle cake, even a spooky Halloween cake! Along
with your registered diskette, you'll also receive a color
photocopy of six sculpted cakes!
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