traditional ruffle cake

D E C O R A T E-2

Celebrate the everyday – have this pretty [ruffle] cake for any occasion!

October always has seemed like a month with its own theme. When you think about Halloween and Thanksgiving you have these family oriented events that are already sort of traditionally styled in certain ways, and I feel like while we had a blast making fall crafts, it’s nice to use November as a breather before the next party season. So while some people might be laying low after all that October hosting, we’re brushing up on some of the basics for everyday entertaining.

One of my favourite cake ideas is the vertical ruffle cake. I love girly cakes, and there’s something so sweet and soft about this design I’ve been totally obsessing over so it was about time we tackled it in the Party Girl test kitchen. Here’s how you can master this quick and pretty cake decorating technique, perfect for everyday celebrations!

how to make a vertical ruffle cake - crumb coatYour first step is to crumb coat your cake. I’m currently obsessed with this pale pink (it’s a Wilton dye, called Rose Petal Pink if you were curious) so pretty much all of my cakes look like this one right now, for all occasions, because I’m great like that. But you can do this technique with any cake and it would still look adorable. If you haven’t crumb coated a cake before, here are some tips:

1) Stick the cake in the fridge for like 15 minutes before you crumb coat it. While the idea of the crumb coat is that it doesn’t have to be neat, it’s still a lot easier if your cake isn’t falling all over the place, and the fridge should help with that.

2) Make sure your icing is fresh. If it’s been sitting on the counter for a few hours give it a swirl with your mixer. Warm, fresh icing (warm as in not stiff, don’t heat it up or anything…) will go on a lot smoother.

3) It won’t be perfect, don’t stress about that. When you cover the whole cake pop it back in the fridge for another 10-15 minutes so your first coat sets.

how to make a vertical ruffle cake - choosing a tipTo make wide ruffles, I used this Wilton 125 tip. If you want tighter ruffles, you can try the Witlon 104. It’s like a smaller version of this. The most important part is this teardrop shape, not so much the size. When you start your first ruffle, make sure you hold the fat end of the tip closest to the cake, similar to how we made the other ruffle cake a little while ago.

how to make a vertical ruffle cake - first ruffleKeeping the wide end of the tip tight to the side of the cake, pipe your icing out as though you are stacking each layer on top of each other in a vertical motion. If you want to be neat you can use a fondant smoother (or unused paint scraper if you’re old school like I used to be in the good old days) to draw yourself some guidelines on the side of the cake to keep your edges in line. I just freehanded it and it still turned out super cute (if I do say so myself!).

how to make a vertical ruffle cake - completing the rufflesYou want to keep the pressure on your icing gun/piping bag steady so that the stream is consistent. You do all the moving, going right to left and layering the icing.

how to make a vertical ruffle cake - starting the next ruffleAt the top of the column you can just gently drag the top layer so it overlaps the top of the cake. Afterwards you can choose to pipe something on the top, bring your ruffles in to the centre, or leave it blank like I did. Start your next column directly beside the first. If you want more uniform layers, I’d suggest counting how many times you go back and forth during one column. That way you can make sure you have the same number of ruffles. I definitely didn’t bother with that (are you surprised) but I didn’t really notice it looking particularly messy or anything.

ruffle cake final image

And that’s it! What do you think? Pretty easy, and perfect for a girly brunch, bridal shower, or even baby shower in neutral colours. Let us know what you think in the comments below!

for canva

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swirl cake

swirl cake header how to make a pink swirl cake

So on Tuesday you got to see how we made this sweet little flamingo cake topper, and now as a bonus we’re going to show you the crazy easy cake we made to showcase it. The best part about this cake (we’ll call it the swirl cake) is that it’s so easy I don’t even know what tip I used. If that bothers you, I can ballpark and say it’s similar to a Wilton 1M, but it came free with the icing gun I got at Target (amazing) and it’s a bit more spread out than the 1M. Either way, it doesn’t really matter as long as you have that rough star shape to give it some texture.

I like to this of this cake as a play on the rosette cake, but maybe a bit more edgy. Okay maybe not at all edgy, but if you aren’t into rosettes then this is a fun compromise, and equally pretty.

swirl cake step 1 crumb coat

First, crumb coat your cake. The beauty of this one is that you’re going to make pretty large swirls, so it takes you about 5 minutes to make this cake and the coverage is amazing, so don’t stress about your crumb coat. This is me justifying how crazy messed up mine looks in these pictures. Yikes.

swirl cake step 2 pink swirl method

Once your crumb coat has settled a little, you can start your swirls. Start on the bottom layer and, unlike the rosette cake, start on the outside of what will be your swirl. Slowly rotate your icing tip forming a circle. The trick is to keep it loose enough that it forms a bit of a loop and doesn’t leave a big gaping hole in the centre. I twisted the end a bit and guided it to where I wanted it so you couldn’t see my crumb coat.

swirl cake step 3 completing the icing design

If you don’t like the little holes in the centre, you can use the swirl as a “frame” for something decorative to fill that void. I know that Bulk Barn has those gorgeous little roses in a million colours you could probably press into it, or make the swirls tighter (maybe to circles around) so there isn’t a gap. I kept mine loose because I wanted to attention to be on the flamingo topper, but ironically every time I see that picture I’m just like “man that cake is adorable”.

I didn’t ice the top of my cake (because of the whole topper thing) but you could continue the swirls on top in a circle spiralling outwards from the centre. I think the swirls set the stage for a cute topper, so if you’re giving the flamingo a try, this cake should be on your to do list!

And that’s all! Easy tutorial for an easy (and pretty!) project!

swirl cake final

bbq cupcakes

bbq cupcake header

I don’t know about you but I’m insisting on holding on to the final dredges of summer in Canada. I left a restaurant tonight at 8pm AND IT WAS DARK. What is happening here? As part of my mission to enjoy these last few weeks of (official) summer, I whipped up another weekend BBQ snack perfect for entertaining. I’ve always had a soft spot for these BBQ cupcakes, and after making those hamburger cupcakes (and having three dozen of them eaten in a two day period I might add) I realized these little guys would be potluck gold! They were actually so easy to make, and they looked so fun people didn’t even want to eat them (but obviously they did, because they were chocolate, with chocolate BBQs, and gummy bears, like of course) and they were a cross-generation hit (this means my sisters and my grandmother approved of them equally).

Here’s how to make your own for your last backyard parties of the season!

bbq cupcakes step 1

First of all, decide what colour you want your icing to be. A lot of people make these with a cream coloured icing and I don’t get it. It’s a BBQ. BBQs are dark. Charcoal is like a weird grey/brown/black. YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG PEOPLE! Just kidding but I’m a stickler so I mixed this crazy difficult and basically impossibly complex don’t ever do it new colour with grey and brown and black icing dye.

I sprinkled some black chocolate chips on top for “pieces” of charcoal. Clearly I’ve never seen a BBQ in my life. But for some reason it made sense to everybody at the party so I don’t know, let’s move past it.

bbq cupcakes step 2

To make the “grill”, get some melting chocolates (you can use Candy Melts from Michaels or get baking chocolate at Bulk barn which tastes three thousand times better) and melt them. Pour them into a piping bag and quickly (so it doesn’t cool and harden in the bag) draw little grills on wax paper. Pop the paper in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes to make sure everything stays together.

bbq cupcake step 3

Pop the grills off the wax paper gently and stick them on your icing carefully. I found making two small “bumps” of icing on either side of the cupcake worked well for adhering the grill to the cupcake while leaving space underneath to see the little charcoal bits.

bbq cupcakes step 5

Push two or three small gummy bears onto a toothpick. Lay them on each grill.

And that’s it! It’s such a great way to make your cupcakes extra sweet, and it’s a really easy project.

bbq cupcakes final

Let us know how you’re soaking up the last bit of summer, and give these guys a try this weekend!

ruffle cake

ruffle cake header

Ruffle cakes are at the top of my list for things that I absolutely adore every time I see them. They are so sweet. They’re adorable. They are the dessert equivalent of summer dresses (that one is maybe relative). But man, they are HARD. The first time I tried to make a ruffle cake it looked like something my sister made. I think I told people she made it. I’m a horrible person. But when we had a birthday to celebrate at the office I decided I could only rock the rosettes (my go to decorating technique) for so long, and it was time to live on the edge. After some blood, sweat, and tears (just kidding it was all very hygienic and normal) I was so so so impressed with how it turned out, so I had to share!

One thing I will note is that if you are doing this maybe don’t do it in such a bright colour (like, ahem, yellow) because it catches the light so well the shadows don’t show up as well and it’s hard to tell there’s actual depth there. This is obviously only an issue if you’re photographing your cake in detail. I.e. if you’re doing a blog post and want to show people how to make this cake, don’t do it in yellow. Oops. Just trust me, the ruffles are there.

Like the rosette cake, a lot of the true work here is in the decorating tip you use. I experimented with a few (bakers everywhere will have a different preference, and it’s impossible to please them all, and everybody is different, and blah blah do what makes you happy) before I found the Wilton 104. It’s a good mix because the ruffles aren’t so big they fall on you but it also gives you enough to get a good angle.

Tip #2 for this one would be to decorate a tall-ish cake. We make a lot of mini cakes which are so cute and great, but they’re hard to get a lot of ruffles on. Make sure you trim your cardboard cakeplate so you can get right up to the side of the cake. You need to be able to hold your hand at a weird angle so once you get to the base that angle is a bit complicated. I would suggest a two-plate system, where you have one trimmed right to the bare minimum and another to put the finished product on. This all makes sense once you get started.

First step, crumb coat your cake. We’ve talked about that before, but basically you’re slathering icing on your cake to keep everything together. After you crumb coat, stick it in the fridge. You want it to be firm or the icing will sag under the weight of the ruffles. You can cool your icing bag as well, but if it’s too firm you can’t pipe a sticky enough icing to “stick” to your cake, so keep that in mind. A general rule would be maybe 5 minutes for your piping bag and 15 for your crumb coated cake.

ruffled cake step 1

To start your ruffle, I would suggest starting at the top. There is no scientific reason for this, except that if it starts to sag you can prop it up with another ruffle below, whereas starting from the bottom gives you less of a back up plan. That’s almost the same as science, right?

Holding your icing bag with the fat end of the tip facing down, angle your hand so the fat end (the bottom) of the tip is touching your cake, while the skinny end has space between it and the cake.

ruffled cake step 3

This is where the angle is super important, and why you need to be able to get right up beside your cake. If your cake is the same size as your decorating wheel (i.e. not the same size as mine) this will be easier for you. Gently squeeze the icing out as consistently as you can while slowly spinning the wheel to go all the way around your cake. You want to be as consistent as possible, but don’t stress too much; the different pressures will only create interest in the ruffles. You’ll see when you start squeezing the way the ruffles are going to sit. If you want tighter ruffles, angle your hand less, so it’s more horizontal. You can control the way they look with your angles so feel free to experiment. Make sure you keep the fat end against the cake, or your ruffles won’t have anything to adhere to!

ruffle cake step 4

Once you finish a ruffle, start the next one below. I tried to start and stop in the same place each time so there was a bit of a “seam” at the back of the cake. It just made it cleaner from the front. I’m also crazy. If you want your ruffles to be more spaced out, adjust your tip placement accordingly. I did these ones pretty loose, but when I do another one I’ll probably do more. Basically put the next ruffle right underneath the first one, so there is only a tiny little space between the edges of the ruffles.

ruffled cake step 2Depending on how clean you want your ruffles to look, you can go faster or slower, and work with a more/less liquid consistency on your icing. I feel like in these pictures they look a little messy, but they look normal in real life, honest. The best part about this technique is, like the rosette cake, you see how it’s supposed to look the moment you start. So once you do your first ruffle, you get the hint about how the rest need to look, and it helps you guide from there!

So that’s that! Give it a try yourself this weekend, it’s super cute!

ruffle cake final

 

hamburger cupcakes

hamburger cupcake headerSo I am legit concerned I may have a fascination with making desserts shaped like dinner. I already got a huge kick out of the burger and fries cookies we made a little while ago, and when I found some mini forks at the dollar store I immediately wanted to try out the classic hamburger cupcake project. These littles guys are certainly not new, but hopefully seeing how easy they are to make will inspire you to give them a try for your long weekend barbecues…just in time for back to school. Oh, my heart.

ANYWAYS, here’s how you can make these little hamburger cupcakes.

First step, make a batch of vanilla and chocolate cupcakes. I’ve heard of people using brownies instead of chocolate cupcakes. I can’t think of a single reason why that isn’t an equally good choice, but I used cupcakes because it seemed easier to bite into, and I was worried the brownies would weigh the lower “bun” down too much. Honestly unless you’re prone to rock-like brownies that’s probably a super illegitimate concern.

Once you have your cupcakes, proceed like this:

hamburger cupcake step 1

If that graphic is confusing, you basically cut your vanilla cupcakes in half and your chocolate ones into thirds. That’s it. You’re welcome.

Next, you get to decorate them like a burger. I went the classic route with lettuce, tomato (or ketchup, for some reason I insisted on calling it tomato but honestly ketchup makes more sense consistency wise) and mustard. You can get creative with yellow fondant for “cheese” (with holes for swiss would be hilarious!) and green-tinted shaved coconut for lettuce, but I hate both those things so I wasn’t into to it. The point is you can customize this project however you like.

hamburger cupcakes 2

I spread the “mustard” on the bottom bun so I had a way to attach the burger “patty”. Make sure you put that down (a slice of the chocolate cupcake) right away because if your icing starts to harden it won’t stick together, and everything sort of falls all over the place.

hamburger cupcakes step 3

Next I put some “letucce” on top of the patty. This was a huge pain because it got super crumby, so I ended up putting the rest of the cupcake pieces into the fridge while I was assembling them two at a time. I think next time I’ll just leave them there for awhile because if they were a little more firm it would have saved a lot of time.

hamburger cupcakes step 4

The best part about these cupcakes is that while they look time consuming they’re actually super easy. There is no art to spreading different coloured icing on top of each other. It took like twenty minutes to make two dozen of these guys.

hamburger cupcakes step 5

For the top “bun”, I mixed some lemon extract and water and spread it on top to act as a glue for the brown sprinkles I used for “sesame seeds”. I think if you were into it you could just as easily use real sesame seeds, but I hate those so I stuck with the brown sprinkles. They still looked cute!

hamburger cupcake final

And there you have it! These were a huge hit. They were super easy to make AND eat, and the looked perfect for a summer get together. Try them out yourself this weekend and let us know how it goes!

 

shabby chic ombre cake

shabby chic ombre cake headerI have a lot of cake ideas I’ve always wanted to try. Some of them are really intricate (ask me how my ruffled cake technique is going) and some of them seem intricate but are just fun and silly to make (sprinkle cake anybody?) and others make zero sense to anybody except me. Today’s “diy” although we aren’t going to call it that because it barely counts is an example of that latter group.

I have always, ALWAYS, been obsessed with (as my nan would say) “messy cakes”. I think smash cakes for babies are the best thing ever. I love them. I want to smash cake. I love naked cakes that look like somebody forgot about them. I love tiered cakes that look like they’re falling over. So when I started seeing cakes that looked like someone slapped icing on them, I was in love. Was this project received with acceptance and understanding from my peers? Not at all. Do I still support it as a super cute cake for a “shabby chic” theme? YES. Could this same technique be adapted with more patience and a cleaner vision into something a lot less messy? Probably. But I like it my way. If you agree, here’s how you too can have this super fun ombre cake at your next party!

shabby chic cake step 1First of all, decide on your colours. I wanted to do an ombre because I already had a light pink (above) mixed but I was feeling a hot pink cake for no reason whatsoever, so I decided to utilize both. I mixed four bowls with gradually more drops of dye because I wanted a softer ombre. If you want something more dramatic, go for three of four tones of icing dye.

shabby chic cake step 2With your icing gun (or piping bag) add a dab of icing around the top of your cake (if you’re going down, this makes sense in a second) like little dots. Then, take a spoon and run it under hot water. Slowly and gently (or fast and not gentle at all if you’re me and want the mess) press and drag the icing down. If you go down, and your icing is too wet, it’s going to look messier than if you allow your icing to sit for a couple minutes and drag your dots to the side. If you’re going sideways, do one dot at a time. You want to place the next dot where the “smear” starts to thin out. If you’re going down, you can see above what I mean by a thinning “smear”.

shabby chic cake step 3Add your next colour below and continue. When you get to the bottom, you have a couple choices. You can use a icing tip to make a small base that sort of secures the smears. I left mine messy, but you could also use a spoon or knife to clean up the bottom layer smudges so it just looks smooth at the bottom. Do what makes you happy 🙂

shabby chic cake final

And that’s that! It’s a super easy cake, but it also looks so fun, especially with a bright topper with a sweet topper. I love how the colours looked together, they look so girly and bold, but they also looked sweet when we brought the cake outside and ate it in the garden with lemonade and wafer cookies. I feel nostalgic for this cake now.

If you want something eye catching but minimal effort, this cake is for you! Let us know what you think in the comments!

 

sprinkle cake

sprinkle cake header 2

If you’ve ever tried to throw a party you probably noticed that the desserts are often the priciest part. When you’re busy making paper chains or tissue paper garlands, it’s hard to imagine all that work to diy half your party…and then pay $100 just for the calories! A huge part of how this blog got started was the fact that I was tired of paying a fortune for a party that wasn’t 100% authentically what I wanted. I was planning my sister’s sixth birthday party with a One Direction theme and a couple downtown bakeries quoted me over $80 just for two dozen sugar cookies! I knew what I wanted, but not how to afford it…or how to tell a six year old why there was no cake. Back then I taught myself how to handle the sugar cookies, and the cupcakes, and the ice cream sundae bar, but I figured I’d never learn how to tackle a cake.

Fast forward a year and we’ve been so busy in the Party Girl kitchen teaching ourselves how to pull off parties like the pros, at prices real people can afford. And we knew it was time to tackle cakes. So I’m hesitant to call this a new “series”, but I am giving you the heads up you’re going to see a lot more delicious cake tutorials around here in the next little while! Hopefully one of these will inspire you to skip the expensive bakeries and give it a try at home, for less!

This cake was on our list from the beginning because I’m obsessed with sprinkles. Since I was a little girl I was always pouring sprinkles on all kinds of desserts. Ice cream obviously, but I even managed to sneak it in on pies (and maybe breakfast once or twice). The sprinkle-covered cake was an obvious must have. Turns out with a little creativity and a lot of hands, it’s almost as easy as it is adorable!

sprinkle cake step 1First, bake a cake. Haha. Seriously though, bake a cake (use a box, we won’t judge) and crumb coat it. Pop it in the fridge for ten to fifteen minutes. All you really need for this cake is icing and sprinkles. We bought a 2 lbs bag because I told Fernanda we’d need it, and she said we didn’t, and I said I was positive we would, and we didn’t at all and had like a pound and a half left. They’re still in my cupboard. Damn. Anyways, listen to the cautious one and go for like, a pound to be safe. It’s not like they go bad okay Fernanda? Gosh.

There is no graceful and/or clean way to make this cake. We put our cake plate on a cookie tray which was brilliant because it was actually alarming how messy we were. Basically, you have to start in chunks. We started at the top because it was easiest, but you can face the challenge head on with the sides if you’re brave. You have to go in sections. Apply icing to wherever you’re starting and immediately place a handful of sprinkles on the icing. The trick is to go for quantity over quality with the handfuls; the icing will dry and harden very quickly so you want to make sure you get as many sprinkles as possible on the fresh icing right away.

sprinkle cake step 2After you’ve dumped a handful, gently tap down on the sprinkles, patting them into place. You want to make sure the icing is “gluing” the sprinkles to the cake, so patting and gently brushing away excess will ensure you’re covered everywhere.

sprinkle cake step 3The hardest part is the sides. What we found worked best was cupping a handful of sprinkles and sort of gently pressing the sprinkles against the cake sides. We also tried various techniques of throwing and or “dripping” sprinkles onto the sides with different levels of success. One of us holding the cake on a slight angle (make sure you use some icing on your cake base before you place the cake down to help secure it) and the other dumping handfuls on the sides and applying more icing seemed to work the best. It’s a live/learn process, but actually once you get the rhythm down it’s not that bad. The best part is you can’t really screw it up. You can use a spatula to clean up the base and gently press the sides so the sprinkles are clean and straight.

sprinkle cake step 4

And that’s it! We didn’t make a topper for this because I loved how the sprinkles looked and couldn’t get over it, but if you’re serving it up and want to make it pop, why not add some drama with sparklers? Sprinkles demand bold gestures like that 😉