The Making of a Birthday Cake: One Cake’s Story on How it Became a Birthday Sensation.


So, I made a birthday cake for my mom – her birthday was yesterday. As I was making it, i took a ton of photos and documented it’s progress from generic un-decorated cake layers, to celebrated birthday star. Here is one cake’s journey, in photos, from average unknown plain jane, to birthday stardom.

Stage 1: assemble the layers.


Top one layer with buttercream, spread it out evenly, and place the other layer on top.


Stage 2: Ice the entire cake.


Smooth it out, but be sure to save some icing to color for decorating.


Stage 3: adding shell border and flowers.


Color your icing as you see fit. I chose a kind of mauve-y tone for the flowers and border, and a light green for the leaves.


Stage 4: Personalize.


This cake was for my mom, so I added the appropriate message.


Stage 5: eat and enjoy!!

Cake art.

I never fancied myself a cake artist. I mean, I made cakes with pictures and writing and stuff like that. But I never really thought that was my strength – I would describe myself as more of a baker than a cake decorator. But often the two go hand-in-hand, so I have learned a few cake decorating tips and tricks in my time.

However, I never really thought I was awesome at it. I was decent. I could decorate a cake that looked better then something an untrained or unpracticed individual could make, but I’m certainly no Cake Boss. The taste of the cake itself was always my game, with decorating coming second.

Then, one day I was forced to take a wedding cakes class. I was not pumped – in fact, I even complained to my mom that I didn’t even like wedding cakes and didn’t know why the school was making my learn this..grumble, grumble. However if I planned on graduating, I had to take the class. So, I did.

And I was wrong. The reason I didn’t like cake decorating was not because I didn’t like doing it or didn’t think it was worthwhile – it was solely based on fear – fear that I just couldn’t do it, so instead of trying I wrote it off as something not worth my time. How mature. But we all do it – fear makes us act in funny ways – ways we’d never imagine we’d act, especially as adults. I should have known better – as a kid, I loved play-doh. As a young adult, I loved polymer clay. Fondant and gum paste are so similar to those mediums, yet they’re even better because you can eat them after you sculpt them! And I had completely forgotten about my clay sculpting past.

sculpts like clay. tastes like sugar.

Secondly, I love fashion – I even took a handful of fashion design courses. How does this relate to cake decorating? Well, decorating a cake is like dressing it – choosing the right color combinations, the right placement of various accessories, how much to cover (or let show). So fashion + clay + baking = no more fear. 

I have created cake art. And it’s quite tasty. 🙂

eat your heart out, Roy Lichtenstein.



one bad cake.

Today I made a very ugly cake. It tasted good. I mean, it was a yellow cake, and the consistency was spot on. The decorating….well it was just bad. There’s no nice way to say it. It looked like a kid did it – a kid forced to wear a blindfold and use only their non-dominant hand. The worst part was that it was a design I’ve done before – more than once! Everything about it just went wrong. And when put together, it was one hot cake mess and could have easily been featured on the homepage of  Cake Wrecks.

I did not take photos. I couldn’t bear to humiliate myself any further. Funny, but writing about my disastrous decorating drama actually makes it seem not quite so bad. I mean, I did an excellent job evening out the top and cutting equal-sized layers – and quickly too! I got the base icing on really quickly as well. When I really think about it, the only really ugly parts were the sides, after I ran the icing comb around them. I don’t know what happened – it was uneven in thickness, sticking to the comb and forming points, and it was as if I somehow couldn’t figure out how to hold it straight. The cake comb is my nemesis.

i hate you.

My shell border was fine too. and the top was really smooth. My roses were just – eh. I think by that point I was so distraught by the ugly sides that I couldn’t concentrate and the roses just looked like wilted purple blobs. I wouldn’t pay money for that thing.

So, now that I’ve owned up to my truly ugly cake, I feel like I can move forward. And move forward I shall, as I have about 4 dozen cupcakes to make and decorate by tomorrow afternoon.  Shake it off, and get back on the mound. There’s a game to be won.

this good cake is here to remind you (and myself) that i do have business baking.

flower power.

I have discovered a new hidden talent – making flowers out of modeling chocolate. I wish that I had discovered this earlier – I could have been wowing people with tiny perfectly sculpted yet edible chocolate decorations on their cakes, cupcakes, whatever. But better late than never, and now I’m obsessed with making them. I just want to sit at home and sculpt more flowers. When you find something you both love and are great at, you have to go with it.

Frankly, I should have known this was something I’d be good at for various reasons, the main one being my naturally cold (and often times freezing) hands. Thanks to my mom, who passed her genetic condition of poor circulation in the fingers on to me, I am able to handle modeling chocolate for much longer than the average person, without it melting (the same goes for icing). So mom, if you’re reading this, thanks for the cold hands – they really are good for something!

Also, I’ve always loved clay. When I was kid, I was obsessed with Play-Doh. Like, I played with it well past the recommended age group on the side of the box. Because I grew older while Play-Doh remained the same, the relationship was bound to fail eventually, so I attempted to move on to polymer clay. I discovered that one thing I could make really well were flowers (possibly because that was all I really tried to make, go figure).

But, as I often did with various crafty endeavors before I found my true calling (baking, of course), I became bored quickly with the art of polymer clay sculpting, and shelved the books and packed away the clay in the deep dark depths of the plastic tub in the craft closet, only to be unearthed again accidentally when I moved into my new house, discovered the box and exclaimed with wide eyes, “What could possibly be in here?” as if I’d discovered Black Beard’s treasure.  Then, back away it went.  

gold ain't got nothin' on polymer clay.

Anyway, I really can only blame my lack of knowledge as far as cake decorating options go for my late arrival into the world of modeling chocolate. Up until a few weeks ago, I never imagined such a thing existed. Clay, made out of chocolate?? It’s like my childhood fantasy, come to life.

I can now have my clay and eat it too. Some fantasies do become reality. (and some don’t and never will, so forget it).

you don't bring me flowers...unless they're chocolate.