Takes the Cake: Erin writes about how she made a lovely, flower-covered baby shower cake
My baking coworker Erin Lippitz recently made another stunning cake creation, and agreed to write a guest blog post about how she did it. She swears you can make it yourself, and even includes a trick for making the flowers stand out. (Hint: More cake.)
One of my oldest and closest friends called me in the early spring of this year to let me know she was expecting a baby in the fall. My thoughts immediately went to all the cute baby shower cakes I could make for her party that was held this past weekend.
She is expecting a girl, and we all know cakes for little girls are the most fun to make. (Editor's note: Here are links to cake pops, Olivia-the-Pig cupcakes and a Monster's Day cake Erin's made for her nieces and other family members.)
I immediately began Googling “girl baby shower cakes” and stumbled across a sweet, pink frosted layer cake covered in sugar paste flowers. The flowers would take some time to create but the cake itself was pretty simple.
I've taken classes from the amazing Buffy Vance of Madeline's Confectionary in Urbana, so I know how to make gumpaste roses and a variety of other flowers. But even if you've never had a single cake class in your life, you can easily create this cake. There is no fancy piping of frosting. All you need to know is how to apply frosting to a cake. And then stick flowers on top.
I began with my favorite white cake recipe.
I made one batch of batter which filled two 8x2 (8 inches in diameter, 2 inches high) cake pans. Since I usually like my cakes to be taller than that, I made a second batch of batter to fill another 8x2 pan, a smaller 6x2 pan and almost a full pan of cupcakes. The majority of the cupcakes went to our new neighbors and the rest found their way into my husband's stomach.
While the cakes were baking and cooling I whipped up a simple buttercream frosting using Buffy Vance's recipe, which you'll find here. It's my go-to frosting.
Once the cakes were completely cooled I dumped them out, wrapped them in plastic and let them chill in the fridge overnight. I like working with cold cake, it's so much easier to handle as it doesn't break or crumble as easily. You don't need to leave them overnight if you don't have time, but a few hours in the fridge is recommended especially if you will be stacking them.
I used pink food coloring to turn the white frosting a baby pink and began frosting and stacking the layers using the buttercream in between as my filling. I decided to try something different for me; I didn't smooth out the frosting to try to make it look like fondant.
I left the frosting rough so it almost looked like pink spackle. Only prettier. I just felt that this would complement the flowers more than a smoother look.
This layer's sole purpose was to give the flowers a boost so they weren't laying flat on the top of the cake. I wanted them to look like they were coming up and spilling over the sides. The frosting on this layer does not need to be perfect since it'll be completely covered up by your flowers.
Then, I cleaned up the cake plate so no frosting was anywhere it wasn't supposed to be. I didn't finish the bottom edge of the cake with any piping. I made sure the line was clean and left it semi-rough.
Then I began placing about 30 or more handmade flowers on top of the small top layer and let them trickle gently over the side of the cake. I made my own sugar paste flowers over a period of a few weeks, but you can purchase icing flowers at any craft store that sells cake supplies.
You can also purchase simple flower fondant cutters and fondant at the same store and make your own flowers with no training at all. Most flower cutters come with pretty good instructions and if you need more help, check out YouTube for flower-making tutorials.
I was a bit worried that the cake would take a turn for the gaudy because of the different shades of pink and purple I used, but the overall finished product looked just lovely.
I intended to finish it off with a fondant bow wrapped around the middle of the cake but after making more than 40 flowers, I used up all my fondant. Instead, I added a few flowers on the side to give it more of a finished feel.
Overall the cake took very little time (if you subtract the hours I spent making flowers, but that's fun!) and can be created by a baker with lots of experience or none at all.