Wilton Wannabe: Preparing a Cake for Class #2

(Pics follow the babble.)

Under the current (2012) Wilton curriculum, we are supposed to bring a plain 8" cake to class to practice icing and smoothing.

Let me tell you right now that this whole 8" cake business is twerpy. What do I have in my cupboard? A nine-incher. (I expect you to write the innenduous jokes yourself. Some of us have buttercream to lick off our fingers... only to discover that it's pure Crisco.) So I email the (wonderful, patient) instructor and she says 9" is fine, just get a bigger board and bring more frosting.

I decide to practice with my 9". It's non-stick Calphalon, so that means no greasing the sides, right? (HaHA!) Okay, that cake goes away (most of it eventually into my stomach - by the second cake I just threw the sucker away because I was in danger of being sick of cake), and I carefully grease and flour the pan in the manner that always worked when I was a tot who still knew the shame of store-bought baked goods.

Same thing. Absolutely no difference. Yes, I used a bread knife around the side first and everything.

I was out of cake mix, so the next day I went to the grocery store to get some cooking spray and more cake mix. But, the selection on both was poor and kind of pricey. Well, there's always...

...And yea, I went unto the dark place. The dark 24/7 monstrosity. That place where I say I never shop except for hamster seeds... the place where Pillsbury cake mix is a buck and they carry Wilton's cooking spray for about the same price as Pam spray.

So there I am in the Wilton aisle and I see a 8" cake pan... but no, I'm trying to declutter here. Learn to use the 9" force, Luke.

Then I decide to mosey into the baking aisle proper, where the non-Wilton baking pans are.

And would you believe they had NO eight-inchers? Nine, yes. Ten, yes. Eight, no.

And that's when I knew that this whole 8" thing was a big Wilton conspiracy. HA.

Okay, I am fibbing a little because they had 8" disposable cake pans that were only an inch high. But what the heck, I decided to get them. They can be repurposed as glitter trays or something when the decluttering train stops at Craft Table Station. (Right now the decluttering train is sprawled on its side throughout Dining Room Alley, but on the plus side, people can actually walk in to the walk-in closet now.)

So, back to the practicing. I decide to try icing and smoothing a cake before class. (I was further inspired by someone who did this then mentioned it in Wilton's forum for the class. The way she told it, it freed up a lot of time to practice decorating.)

But first, what was I doing before all this? Was I practicing my stars? (Yes, for about 10 minutes. They were kind of better but not great.) Or was I drawing something?


(Mike and I are both addicted to the "Draw Something" app. If you want to start a game with me, I think my user name is Daffodilly.)

Okay, so first I made a lemon cake. Wow... it was really.... short. The peril of 1"-high pans, I suppose. Maybe I should just stay with the 9" pan. The Bake Easy (Wilton spray) worked perfectly, by the way. So, I used the remaining batter in the 9" pan... and the cake was also short.

How could I bring either of these to class? I'd be torting them into onion layers!

I got the bright idea to make a second short 8" cake, level both, and stick them together. This is fun!

While the second cake (Pillsbury, strawberry) was baking, I leveled my first (Duncan Hines, lemon) cake.



Oopsie! See how I spackled that bit back on? Nice.

The strawberry cake was cooling. I expressed my creativity elsewhere. Mike needed hints on this one:



I was happy that my former student Sara got this one before I added the text:



Okay, time to get the cake really going. I'm feeling so creative!

Yikes, the strawberry has a burned edge.



Above you see my fine MacGyver work with the scissors. (In addition to overfilling the cake pan, I also kinda left the cake in too long. Wait, I didn't tell you about the overfilling yet.)

You can see Nutella in the background - an unopened jar being one of the miracles of the pantry decluttering - but I decided to use some Bonne Maman preserve that we'd bought on sale about five years ago and somehow never ate. The four fruits are raspberry, red currant... I forget the rest. But they seemed appropriate for a lemon/strawberry cake. (Not that I'm going to eat it because, seriously, really sick of cake.)

I made the buttercream dam and then gently spread the preserves, as we learned to do in last week's class.


Now to put the two cakes together and make Cake Magic!


Um, why is the strawberry cake wider than the lemon cake?

(Someone may have filled the pan higher with batter the second time around. But it was supposed to add height, not width!)

I fearlessly made an executive decision. Or shall we say... incision?


Now to do the fun part - icing!

I cut my 16" decorating bag and slung a legendary Tip #789 to the bottom. For the actual icing, I used what was left in my can of Wilton's icing from the last class. Hmm - is that supposed to be used for icing cakes or just for making stars and flowers? I don't know. No one is eating this cake. It's just for practice. Who cares?

I was not necessarily careful in my application:


Whimsy will be rewarded in the next life, I'm sure. I kind of wish I'd reread the instructions, though.

Keep in mind that the little surgical procedure had left me with crumby sides instead of smooth sides. After much battling (read: over an hour) with the icing, I told myself that there's no shame in putting down a crumb coat.



You could almost tell yourself that all those little pink dots are by design, right?


I set about making my own icing, pleased that by using the canned icing for the crumb coat, I'd have more of my own to play with. Unexpected resourcefulness!

Now I'd like to introduce you to another episode in which Wilton twirls his black moustache:



That's a freshly opened can of meringue powder. HEL-lo. Misleading packaging much, Wilton? *Hair flounce and cocked brow.*

I'm starting to lurk at CakeCentral.com where apparently many people don't even use meringue powder, claiming it really has nothing to do with crusting, that crusting is all about fat/sugar ratio.

Well, after I applied the icing, the cake didn't really look much better. Again, I could have been more careful. Also, I think I have a bad habit of scraping down the icing too thinly instead of smoothing out what I have.

Perhaps you would like more photos. But photos of which time?

Three times I iced that ^%$#@. Three times I smoothed it. Or "smoothed" it. (Yes, I know about the VIVA paper towel trick now, but at the time I only had wax paper.)

I thought about dropping out of the class. I thought about getting a friend to go in my place. Not because I feel incompetent (I do, but that doesn't usually stop me when it comes to hobbies) but because I don't want to face the instructor with this crumb-showing, raggedy cake. Especially since we were meant to do them in class, so me bringing in one already done is like I endorsed it, or something.

But if I hadn't already iced a cake (such that it is), then what would I get accomplished in class? Because this puppy has taken bloody ages, whereas I want to learn about piping gel and playing with tips and stuff again.

It is discouraging to not be doing so hot at what is literally the foundation of cake decorating, but maybe when I get up to smooth out my fourth attempt (which is really just a spackling of areas where too much of the cake was still showing through - maybe my icing is too thin? - as you can see below), things will go better.


I hope so. Class is in a few hours.

(And no, Miss "I'm not going to buy a cake caddy just to bring practice cakes to class" has no idea how she's going to get the cake there.)

16 March 2012 |






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