We can’t believe it’s been a year. We’ve had so much fun.
So we thought, what better way to celebrate than… a trip to Mexico without our husbands and kids!
And then our backup plan was…  a DIY on icing a birthday cake! Hmn, doesn’t seem like such a worthy replacement for that trip anymore.
Regardless, if you are a mom, baking a cake has come up. And if you are more of the “DIY” type than the “swing-by-the-bakery” type, this little walk-though might come in handy.

And if you are a professional, or just an awesome cake decorator, don’t laugh at my skills. I’m definitely just a home baker with a few lessons under my belt. But with these tips, you CAN ice a perfect cake, if you’re into that kind of thing.I’m more of a half-perfect kinda gal.

And if you have more tips, or suggestions, praise for my mad-skillz, or birthday wishes for our baby… Prudent Baby, leave a comment here. The superb comment of the week wins that “tacky” gift up there to the left.

Click here for How to Ice a Cake.

How to Ice A Cake

So let’s start with a cake, you will need one of those. I toyed with the idea of baking from scratch but time was tight (isn’t it always?) so convenience won out. Plus, I’m a pretty big fan of the cake mix, I cannot lie. Those Duncan Hines people know what they’re doing. So grab a box and a few cake pans. These are Magic Line brand, 8″x2″ rounds. I really, really, love these pans, See those sides that go straight up? You want those.

Ok, so even though I love the cake mix, I make a tweaks to the “recipe” which makes the cake just a little more delish and easy to work with. I simply add one more egg and 2 tablespoons flour to the ingredients.

Prepare those babies as directed. Oh, but cook at 325 rather than 350 and use the toothpick method to test for done-ness. Ill also touch my fingertip to the top and if the cake springs back, it is done.

Your cakes are baked and cooled on a rack. If you aren’t going to use them right away, wrap them for freshness.

Mix up a batch of “Evil Buttercream Icing”

This cake doesn’t have to travel so I’m just going to decorate it right on an 8″ round cake board. If you need to transport, use a foil-covered cake board in a slightly larger size than your cake and proceed.

If you are decorating on your final presentation surface, add a dollop of icing to the bottom and position on stand. If you are using a temporary work surface, use a non-skid mat. Revolving Cake Decorating Stands are a worthy investment, FYI.

I also recommend adding small pieces of parchment paper between your cake and surface for easy clean-up.

Trim the tops of both of your cakes flat. There are tools that work well for this but I prefer a large serrated knife.

Add a dollop of icing to the top of your cake board.

Place your first cake right-side down. Add a generous amount of icing in the center.

These are the three cake spatulas I use.

Working from the center, spread the icing out to edges making sure it overlaps the edge quite a bit.

Position your second cake top-down and press lightly.

Smooth your filling flat around the outside of the cake. Add a little more if there are holes. You don’t want air in there.

Now for the crumb coat. You DON’T want to skip this step. 

Add a TBSP water to approx 1/3 cup icing. and mix to a loose consistency.

Pour most of it on top of your cake and spread it our to the edges in a very thin layer.

It’s ok if it runs over the sides, it should.

If you need more, add it to the top and push it over the edge.

As it spills over the edge, spread it around the side of the cake as shown.

You don’t want any holes in the crumb coat for air to get in. Make sure it is completely sealed even to the cake board.

Let dry out in the air for at least 1/2 hour or longer. Until it feels a little powdery to the touch.

While your crumb coat is drying. Prepare a pastry bag for your accents.

Cover your bowl of icing while it sits out so it doesn’t get crusty.

Add a portion (1/2 cup?) icing to the center of a square of plastic wrap.

Roll it up folding over the seam several times and twisting the ends. You can store these tubes of icing in the fridge for over a week. If you want to firm up your icing, chill it. If you want it softer, leave it out.

You can use disposable or reusable pastry bags. I like to use a triangles of parchment paper, approx 16×16″. Here’s what I do…

Roll it up like a cone until all 3 corners overlap making a point at the bottom.

Fold the top layers in to secure.

Take a coupler top and bottom.

Slip the base down into the tip of the parchment cone and twist the cap over the the paper.

Tear off the paper tip.

Remove the cap carefully, add your pastry tip. In this case a #16. and replace cap.

Take one of your icing tubes and cut off the end right below the twist.

Slide the open end down into the pastry bag.

Fold the edges of the top in and roll the top over.

Hold the rolled side towards your hand like so.

Ok, so back to the now dry, crumb coated cake.

Add a generous dollop of icing to the center of the cake.

Spread icing out to edges of cake and over. It doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth yet.

Just as with the crumb coat, as it spills over the edges, work it down the sides and push vertically around side.

Smooth it a bit, trying to make a nice sharp corner around the edge but being careful not to dig into the cake.

Until it looks something like this. Now I personally like a cake that looks like this, a little funky but if you are looking for bakery perfection, carry on.

Fill a small bowl with a bit of warm water.

Dip your spatula in the warm water and begin smoothing the icing. As always. starting from the center and working your way out, down and around.

This can drive you crazy so at some point you just have to stop.

Now you can pull out your parchment scraps.

Tim to add some decorative accents which will help disguise imperfections.

Hold your pastry tip about a 1/4″ from the surface and without moving the tip, squeeze bag until the icing puffs around the tip in a nice little ball.

Rather than pulling up/out, swipe the tip over to the side. As you are likely a righty, you are working in the other direction.

And then cover your “swipe” with the next “ball”

And keep making these all the way around. It might take some practice. Try a few on parchment paper before you start. Also note that I let the icing cover what was showing of my cake board since I wasn’t moving my cake from this cake plate.

Keep going…


Your leftover pastry bag can be stored in the fridge for at least a week or even two.
Just remove the coupler cap and pastry tip. add a bit of plastic wrap over the tip and replace cap.

So now we can head our separate ways and you can decorate your basic birthday cake any way you want or you can stick around for the Prudent Baby Button Cake.

Yes, I know, feeding your baby chocolate buttons might confuse them so maybe this cake is more for mama. Mama can have cake too, ya know!

Use our Chocolate Mold Tutorial, some gorgeous Gel Paste Food Color and a Vintage Button Mold from Bake it Pretty to create a rainbow of buttons. Also, these Candy Writers look perfect for this project. Can’t wait to try them.

It’s all part of Prudent Baby’s Summer of Fanciful Treats: sponsored by Bake it Pretty which sells many of the items featured in this post including the adorable skinny candle in the top photo. 

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