My almost-four-year-old repeatedly insisted upon a bicycle cake, helped review designs online, and chose a template for chocolate bike toppers on the cupcakes.
Then she saw the Barbie-like cake topper in the cake decorating aisle.
All thoughts of that bike cake flew out the window.
Here are the resulting birthday sweets we made. Sorry if the instructions are rambling. You'll have to click on some links to get the full instructions.
Age: These are mommy crafts. My almost-four-year-old helped with several steps but also got yelled at quite a bit for potentially destroying my hard work. So, involve your kid for short periods of time in a controlled manner and have a distraction handy to keep them away while you do the hard work. My husband took our kid to the playground for a while :)
Mess/Cleanup: This is extremely messy, took two days of work and over an hour of cleanup after the birthday party. Why didn't I buy a sheet cake from Safeway?
What you need: I used other people's instructions for all of these crafts but I'll share some shopping lists and tips here. I made over 100 cake pops/balls and one doll cake for a party with 40 people and we had too much.
Grocery shopping list
3 Cake mixes (and ingredients required for cake mix instructions-generally eggs and oil)
3 boxes of butter (12 sticks)
1 package mini marshmallows
1 small box and 2 2-lb bags of powdered sugar
1 bag of chocolate chips (if you want milk or dar chocolate pops instead of the white chocolate flavor of candy melts)
|A few of the supplies|
Doll cake topper (or substitute a Barbie doll)
Doll skirt cake pan if you don't have an oven-safe bowl
Fancy star-tipped Wilton birthday candles
Paste food coloring (I used purple)
100 count 6" sticks for lollipops
100 count plastic bag lollipop covers
4 bags of candy melts
Colored icing writer
Small flower shaped Wilton fondant cookie cutter
Star shaped white chocolate (I used stars from Spun Sugar in Berkeley) or star shaped candy confetti
Luster dust (I used disco blue from Spun Sugar in Berkeley)
3 2" thick styrofoam sheets for the cake pop display (I got 3 shaped like a circle. Bakerella shows a cupcake carrier that can hold a rectangular shaped one).
|That doll topper is creepy, eh?|
What else you need at home:
- Paint brush for luster dust
- Rolling pin
- Large Pampered Chef batter bowl (or other oven-safe glass bowl)
- Large microwave safe bowl for marshmallows (my kitchen is not well stocked with these)
- Plate or pan for doll cake (I used a white ceramic Ikea quiche pan with fluted sides)
- Box or pan to protect your doll cake (I used a roasting pan with handles)
- Boxes or pans to transport your styrofoam cake pop displays (we used a combo of jelly roll pans and a really big cardboard box)
- Platters for cake balls
- Foil to protect your melts-like-sugar creations
- An empty shelf in your freezer!!!!
Cake Pops and Cake Balls Instructions and Tips
Seems like half the people I know already knew about these cake pops before I did. The book and the blog are a huge hit! Cake pops are charming and adorable and mere photos of them will make you squeal with delight. I plan to buy the book very soon.
Here are the cake ball/cake pop instructions. I made my cake pops and cake balls with yellow cake mix and homemade buttercream with violet colored candy melts and a smaller batch with semi-sweet chocolate chips. The ones made from chocolate chips were reportedly quite delicious but I didn't taste any.
I thought it was tough getting a smooth coating on both the cake balls and cake pops. It's ok if your first tries are lumpy (at least that is what I told myself).
Cake Pop Tips:
Plan ahead for an hour to cool your cake before crumbling, and three hours to make two batches of cake pops.
Make room to freeze your balls (heh heh) ahead of time. Room-temperature balls during assembly = disaster.
Enlist your kid to put the sprinkles on the pops while you dip. The candy melts harden pretty quickly and your fingers may get too sticky to sprinkle very well.
Crumble the cake into a really fine texture and eat the browned crusty corners. It doesn't crumble well.
Homemade buttercream frosting tastes infinitely better than canned frosting. Save a little extra to add decorations to your Barbie cake.
Tip: I omitted the heavy cream. Make enough for your cake pops as well as another batch to frost the Barbie cake.
Grease your glass oven-safe bowl and fill with one box of cake mix. I used a bit of cake mix to "flour" my bowl before baking so it wouldn't leave a white flour residue. Bake it for 50 minutes at 350 degrees. Use a knife to test for doneness and allow 2-3 hours for the cake to cool before frosting.
After the cake cools cut the wide end of the cake so it will sit flat on the plate and give your kid the scraps to eat. They will start asking for a bite of cake as soon as the oven starts emitting a nice cake aroma so you will be glad to have a scrap to spare to stop those pestering and relentless requests for cake!
Once the cake is cool put it on the display plate you'll use for the finished cake. Frost the cake with a crumb coat layer of buttercream. Turn the TV up loud because you WILL curse the buttercream as it repeatedly picks up layers of brown crumbs to mar the beauty of your fantastic bowl shaped cake. This is a terrible shape to frost! Smooth it out really well to get better results with the fondant skirt. Now give your kid the frosting beaters to lick.
If you've never worked with fondant before you might want to do a quick internet search for tips on working with fondant frosting while the cake is cooling. There are a ton of videos and instruction pages out there. Basically, you need to use powdered sugar the same way you use flour on the surface and rolling pin when rolling out your fondant.
Use Rose's instructions for fondant and roll it out for the dress.
I added a whopping amount of paste food coloring to get a rich purple color (maybe half a teaspoon?) My fondant and my hands were a lovely shade of purple afterward. Take a bath afterward to get your hands back to a normal color! Unfortunately I finished my cake minutes before it was time to go to the party, but it was a good conversation starter with the other parents.
To make the skirt, lay down two sheets of parchment paper and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Roll the fondant out in a big circle and reserve some dough for the bodice and flower decorations. Lift it occasionally to keep it from sticking to the parchment paper. Trust me, I learned this the hard way.
Swipe at your circle lightly to get rid of the powdered sugar left over on your fondant before you put it on the cake. Drape the fondant over your frosted cake. Use a table knife to cut the bottom level with your cake. You can frost over this if your cuts look messy. Mine were ok today (the first one I made years ago looked too messy so I covered it up. Here is an old photo of that one, which had much more frosting piping.
|The bodice is huge to 1) cover the electrical wires coming out the back of this high-tech Barbie and 2) to intentionally promote a more normal body image shape. Yes, I'm serious. It wasn't just an accident!|
Use scraps to create a bodice for your Barbie's dress. I made mine with a heart shaped neckline :)
Put some nonpareils onto some scraps of fondant and roll over them with a rolling pin. These suckers fall off really easily. My almost-four-year-old was observing and advised I use the smallest fondant flower cutter. This was sage advice and reduced the number of candies that fell off. Cut out some tiny flowers from your bumpy fondant and glue them onto the skirt with leftover buttercream frosting.
GOOD LUCK packing up all these darned things if you have to transport them to a birthday party somewhere else!!!! Map out the least bumpy route you can find and try not to strangle the driver if he makes a sudden stop.
Now enjoy your party! And try not to talk people's ears off about how proud you are of your cake pops and cake balls and Barbie cake or you'll upstage the birthday girl. Unless, of course, you made these for your own birthday. ;)