Over the past few months, I’ve made quite a few birthday cakes. More than usual were for children. My usual cake decorating style is pretty simple: casual frosting application and a bit of chocolate to write happy birthday with. Piping, let alone the creation of more complex themes, are not always my favorite things to do. But kids really like their cakes to look fancy – and fancy means that they want more color and more decoration. I recently checked out a cake decorating kit from Cakes By Me that promised to make this brightly colored, accessorized type of cake design a piece of cake.
The kit comes with a sugar-based “edible scene” that serves as the focal point of the cake, as well as with several accessories to give the design some dimension. The kit includes a cake mix, frosting and decorator icing, too, for a very convenient and complete package. I think that the idea overall is great because they offer tons of designs and the scenes are not things that are easy to recreate outside of a professional bakery that has the equipment required to produce them. The designs cover everything from Sponge Bob birthday cakes to baby shower cakes to sports-themed cakes, and the company adds new designs constantly.
I opted to make a from-scratch sheet cake instead of using the cake mix included in my box, although I did use the frosting that was included (very sweet – I can’t remember the last time I used store-bought frosting!). The finished cake looked great, but I had some issues with the execution. First, the container of frosting was not nearly enough to cover the cake well. I used about 2/3 of a second container to finish off the frosting. Second, the instructions dealing with the “edible scene” were not very clear. It was difficult to peel off the design from its backing without breaking it. I found that a knife was necessary to loosen it and minimize tears. I was also so focused on getting the design off in one piece, that I applied it upside down (not the product’s fault, although there were definitely no instructions on exactly how the design should be applied). It looked good on the cake, even upside down, but this seems like a problem that might reoccur.
My cake had a safari theme and I added some additional figurines to the cake – a zebra and a lion – that I had sitting around in a pile of old cake decorations in my cupboard. I thought that the overall look was great and the cake couldn’t have been easier to put together. It won’t be a staple in my kitchen because I’m going to stick to my homemade designs for now – even if they aren’t as appealing to kids. But this is definitely a neat alternative to ordering a cake from a supermarket bakery for a birthday when your child (or you) want a fun, specific theme cake.