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

flamingo cake topper

flamingo cake topper diy header

Once upon a time I saw a picture of this BHLDN flamingo cake topper in a wedding shoot and fell in love. I love flamingos, and these were SO SWEET, but…they were also crazy expensive for just your everyday party, on like a zero budget. So I pined and I obsessed…and then decided I needed a way to make them myself. They seem pretty daunting, but I think I worked out the kinks enough to make them easy enough to DIY!

First of all, ignore how daunting this looks. You don’t really need half this stuff.

flamingo topper materials

What You Need:

  • large foam ball
  • wire (and wire cutters to save yourself)
  • Cloud Clay (I didn’t know what this was, but Victoria found it and it’s amazing. You can get it at the craft store, it looks like this.)
  • modelling clay (I bought a pack at the dollar store because I wanted the pink, but you could buy better stuff or dye your Cloud Clay)
  • pink paint (mine is from the dollar store)
  • faux flower petals in two shades (I chose a light and dark pink)
  • tissue paper
  • pink ribbon (this is optional, I used it for extra security but you could probably get away without it)
  • 2 skewers
  • glue gun & scissors

First of all, shape a length of wire into an ‘S’ shape, leaving the bottom part extra long. Poke that part through the foam ball and shove it through to form a small loop at the back (for the tail) and the ‘S’ shapes the neck.

flamingo topper step 1

Next, use your Cloud Clay to add some shape to the neck. Smooth the bottom of the clay over the foam ball so there is a base. The best part about this clay is that it stretches to pretty much whatever you need, so you don’t need a lot. I rolled and stretched mine into a tubular shape and then flattened it around the wire. For the head shape, create an oval shape and then pinch the end for a beak. You can manipulate the clay until it looks the way you want, it’s very forgiving and takes 24 hours to dry so you have time to work with it.

flamingo topper step 2

When it looks the way you like, set it aside for a day so you don’t risk smudging the clay while you work on the next part.

Once it’s completely dry (it will weigh considerably less and will be very foam-like to the touch) paint the whole thing. Don’t worry too much about it being perfect, you’ll cover everything up anyways, but it’s a good way to have any bald spots hidden later.

flamingo topper step 3This next step is optional, but I think if you find inexpensive ribbon (again, dollar store find for me) it’s worth it. It gives you a tighter shape for your next step, and it’s easier for the glue to adhere to. Add a dab of glue to the base of the neck and wrap the ribbon up the ‘S’ shape, adding glue as you go. Glue the top piece of the ribbon where the neck becomes the head.

flamingo topper step 4Next, cut your rose petals and tissue paper into fringe shapes. I cut them into rectangles first and then fringed them, but if you have thicker ribbon lying around that would work too. I didn’t, and wanted to cheap out a bit on materials.

flamingo topper step 5

I alternated gluing the fringe around the neck, with them lying in layers covering the top of the fringe below. This gave the neck a little “feathered” look without the cheapness of the feathers (don’t get me wrong, you COULD use feathers, I just didn’t like the look of any I found and the petals seemed so sweet).

flamingo topper step 6

flamingo topper step 7For the body, don’t worry about cutting the petals. Layering the two colours, add dots of glue around the base of the neck, moving towards the tail.

flamingo topper step 10

For the tail you can put some Cloud Clay on your loop of wire to form a base. I also used some to shape the head a bit more.

flamingo topper clay collageWhile your clay is drying, you can work on the legs. Paint your two skewers pink and use a little ball of pink modelling clay to form the knees. Stick the sharp ends into the foam ball.

flamingo topper flamingo legsPaint the head however you like, but I used pink paint with a small black eye and beak. You could add googley eyes or more ornate drawings if you prefer! Once your tail is dry you have this flat base for gluing your petals. I just layered mine in a relatively linear way to sort of resemble tail feathers. I covered the bottom of the tail too, but not in this picture so you could see what it looks like. Ignore that last petal, there was a minor Diet Coke problem. My bad.

flamingo topper step 13

And that’s it! It took a little while when you count drying times and stuff, but it wasn’t that difficult once I figured out how I wanted everything. And it looks so sweet, I have it on my desk in a little vase just for fun!

flamingo topper step 15

flamingo cake topper diy

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

 

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 😉

rosette cake

rosette cake header

After lusting over some pretty gorgeous cakes on all the blogs we follow we figured it was time to brush up on our decorating skills and try to master some of our fave cake designs. And if we can do it, you definitely can, so we figured it was only fair to share what we learn (although in a lot less time, and the pictures probably don’t accurately describe the mess we make of the kitchen. Literally every single time. So you’re welcome for the Cliff Notes version of cake decorating 101. Learn from our mistakes).

For today’s intro to cake design, we’re bringing back our favourite dessert trick: the rosette. You may remember seeing this baby here with the sweet pink rose cupcakes we made. This is like the intermediate version (okay, that is a loose term) of that post, because my darlings it’s the exact same technique, but on a larger canvas. And maybe with some gravity-defying luck and toothpicks. We’ll get to that.

rosette cake step 1

First step, make a cake. We recently invested in a mini cake pan because our designs need some height, and we can’t continue to eat full cakes on our own because we have party dresses to fit into/diabetes to avoid (I ate two dozen sugar cookies in like three days. TWO DOZEN. Yes.) so the mini pan was a good way to get height without having to make enough to feed ten people. Generous portions. If you’re feeding like 5-8 (that’s an arbitrary number, but you get the point. Sidebar: I need to stop using parenthesis) a mini pan is your best friend and I suggest you go by one immediately.

So yeah. Make a cake.

rosette cake step 2

After you make that cake, crumb coat it. People who are more talented [patient] than me will tell you crumb coating is easy and necessary. I agree with one of those things. Basically you want to take your icing and glob it all on and spread it around (these are clearly scientific terms) covering your whole cake. It’s going to be messy. It won’t look pretty. Chunks will break off and you’ll sob hysterically questioning every decision you’ve ever made about cakes. It’s okay. This is normal. Persevere. If chunks come off, use icing to “glue” it all back together. And be gentle. I’m going to go ahead and say that once your cake is 100% cool from the oven, put it in the fridge for like 10 minutes. It will firm stuff up. Really, the fridge is your ally in this whole ordeal. Once you finish the crumb coat, pop it back in the fridge for another 10-15 minutes. Take a break. Have a drink.

rosette cake step 3

When you’re ready to face the cake again it’s been about ten/fifteen minutes, take the cake out. Attach a Wilton 2D tip to your piping bag/icing gun and load it up. If you want a slightly more graphic demonstration of the rosette technique, head to the link above. But basically, pump a small amount of icing in the “centre” of what will be your rosette. Slowly pump a steady stream of icing as you move your icing in a circular motion around the centre “bud”. When it’s the size you want, twist your icing stream so it falls in the right pattern on your cake. If this sounds confusing don’t stress, it makes sense immediately once you see the rosette shape working out.

rosette cake step 4

Keep making rosettes, moving counter-clockwise around your cake. When you finish one layer, pop it in the fridge for a couple minutes to firm up. If you’re using buttercream this will obviously work the best. If your icing is firm, there’s a better chance it will support the layer above. That’s like gravity 101.

rosette cake step 5

When you get to the top of the cake, continue your rosettes along the rim. If you have any issues with gravity/rosettes not sticking to your cake along the way, use toothpicks to gently prop everything back in place. You’re going to end up with the rosettes gradually getting fewer as you get to the centre. Think of it as one rosette in the middle of the cake, and then three, and then five, etc. Of course you can do whatever feels right, but this worked the best for us.

And that’s that! It looks so sweet when it’s finished, and it actually isn’t that hard – at all! It’s the perfect trick when you want to save some money AND impress all your friends, and it looks adorable for a girls night or bridal shower!

rosette cake final

If you try this out, we want to hear about it! Instagram a shot of your cake and tag us so we can see how it went.