Hello! I Am New And On A Budget! Have Some Questions!

Decorating By Sallana Updated 19 Jun 2012 , 7:46am by Sallana

Sallana Posted 17 Jun 2012 , 11:41pm
post #1 of 12

Greetings everyone!

I have been looking around the site for a couple days now and have been blown away by the talent I've seen!

I have been admiring beautifully decorated cakes for a long time, but I consistently assumed that such skills were out of my range. However, I made a cake for my husbands birthday that was my first attempt at a decorated cake ever, and it turned out *pretty* good. But more importantly, I had a blast. So I decided I really wanted to further my skills.

I'll be making another cake over the next couple days for my best friend. I'll be going into this prepared so I have higher hopes for it. I really wanted to try a topsy turvy cake but those need at least 3 tiers to look decent.

So I was hoping I could get some help figuring out the most cost efficient way to bake the cake itself. The fondant and the frosting aren't all that expensive, it's the actual cake that gets you. I made my husbands from scratch and I used 18 eggs and like a million sticks of butter, the grand total was about $45.00 for a small two tiered cake!

I was thinking it would actually be cheaper to buy boxed cakes, They are around $4 a box and the box says they can make 2x 9" round cakes. My question is how high will they rise do you think? I would need each cake to be about 2" high. Do you guys think they will manage that? one box, 2x 2" high cakes in a 9" round pan? that would make the actual cake around $15 for all three tiers and then I'd need maybe another $10 for the fondant / frosting ingredients.

Any other suggestions on how to decorate on a budget would be awesome! Or maybe point me toward a thread that's already dedicated to that?

Thanks in advance! Hope to get to know everyone icon_smile.gif

11 replies
sweettreat101 Posted 18 Jun 2012 , 12:04am
post #2 of 12

You used to be able to get one 10" layer out of a cake mix but they shrunk the cake mix boxes down. I would buy an extra mix to make up the difference. I calculate approx. 4 cups of batter per box so I know I will have enough mix. Nothing like mixing up a cake mix and having to run to the store for another mix at the last minute. Walmart usually has Betty Crocker for under a dollar my favorite brand when using mixes. Topsy turvy cakes can be tricky especially if you are just learning. Make sure you use a dowel down the center of your cakes for support. Watch some how to videos on you tube they can be very helpful. I made one for a friends daughter several years ago and forgot my center dowel. Lets just say the top fell off and I had to fix it. Added a few more dots and zebra stripes and it was fine. Have fun.

Sallana Posted 18 Jun 2012 , 2:19am
post #3 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by sweettreat101

You used to be able to get one 10" layer out of a cake mix but they shrunk the cake mix boxes down. I would buy an extra mix to make up the difference. I calculate approx. 4 cups of batter per box so I know I will have enough mix. Nothing like mixing up a cake mix and having to run to the store for another mix at the last minute. Walmart usually has Betty Crocker for under a dollar my favorite brand when using mixes. Topsy turvy cakes can be tricky especially if you are just learning. Make sure you use a dowel down the center of your cakes for support. Watch some how to videos on you tube they can be very helpful. I made one for a friends daughter several years ago and forgot my center dowel. Lets just say the top fell off and I had to fix it. Added a few more dots and zebra stripes and it was fine. Have fun.




Thanks for the tips! I know it's a big project for a newbie, but I always jump into everything with both feet. I've watched / read a lot of tutorials, all that's left is to do it! I don't have professional cake dowels but I do have wooden cabob sticks, lol.

I bought 3 Betty Crocker white cake mixes. I'm going to make them tomorrow and do the cake on tuesday, so if I don't have enough running out to grab another one won't be an issue. They were on sale for $1.

EvMarie Posted 18 Jun 2012 , 2:46am
post #4 of 12

I've used the $1 box mixes from Walmart. Pillsbury? Not sure which brand it is. They aren't half bad if you bake properly.

I got a tip from a pro baker once to use milk instead of the water called for on a box mix. It makes a difference in my opinion. Add a better vanilla instead of the super cheap stuff. If you're making chocolate, add some instant coffee granules to kick up the flavor.

So - I don't have rock bottom price break advice. But, rather some "bang for the buck" advice.

I've tried the cheap shortening for buttercream - bad mistake. My particular recipe did not crust properly. So, in the long run - I think it's better to go with the best you can afford for the shortening in your buttercream. I've heard Alton Brown say to opt for the freshest cheap butter rather than an older higher grade butter.

One last tip - I do use marshemellow fondant which is disgustingly cheap. Not sure what you prefer to use in the fondant arena but if you don't use MMF...give it a google or look up here on CC.

Good Luck!

BakingIrene Posted 18 Jun 2012 , 2:56am
post #5 of 12

Look for a recipe that has a cup of milk as well as a cup of butter. It will be easier on your budget, and it will make a very good cake nonetheless. Look for chocolate cake recipes where you mix cocoa with boiling water--those taste especially rich.

A really good quality margarine like Land-o-Lakes will make a fine tasting chocolate cake--but use really good cocoa. King Arthur Flour does free shipping offers a few time a year and their ingredients are a decent deal. Penzeys has very good prices all year round for excellent quality.

Look for good quality sugar and flour and buy them on sale which happens on a regular basis. Look for the store brand of pure vanilla because it will be a much better deal than the big brand like McCormicks and it will taste just as good.

Keep your eyes open for the 50% off coupons at Michaels because that's when you pick up the more expensive tools.

If you don't have proper dowels, use drinking straws NOT kebab sticks.

Sallana Posted 18 Jun 2012 , 3:23am
post #6 of 12

Well luckily I do have a ton of straws because my kid will only drink out of straws. So we're good there, thanks for the tip!

When I made my husbands cake I did a lot of research on fondant and decided that the marshmallow fondant looked easiest and cheapest, so that's what I went for this time as well. Just whipped up a double batch.. I used generic powdered sugar and marshmallows, it tastes great but it's a little.. crumbly? it's not a rich smooth consistency, so I feel like I'll probably have a hard time with it.

I'm thinking I'll just whip up a large batch of buttercream and use my new icing spatula + turntable to attempt to make it super smooth, then use the fondant just for the decorations. Not sure this batch will hold up to being draped over a whole cake icon_sad.gif

Sallana Posted 18 Jun 2012 , 3:25am
post #7 of 12

Oh and I will definitely do whole milk instead of water, that sounds great. Sometimes I substitute milk with heavy cream, too. It makes for a denser cake I think?

Sallana Posted 18 Jun 2012 , 3:27am
post #8 of 12

Oh another question!!

What do you guys use as a rolling surface for your fondant? I know that if I were to add some softened butter / crisco / or just water to it, the fondant would be smoother but stickier. I can't afford that 'Mat' thing yet.. any good home remedies that work similarly?

EvMarie Posted 18 Jun 2012 , 2:56pm
post #9 of 12

I'm a "fondant on cookie" girl. I have yet to add fondant to cakes on a consistant basis. I've seen people on here use marshmellow fondant with success.

I have not used any other fondant - just because I don't want to waste the money if it doesn't turn out right. So, I guess we are in the same boat on that.

I do love using heavy cream in my buttercream...it does make it creamier & less sweet. If you check a hershey site...they could possibly post their cake with the boiling water. It's the one I use - it's really great.

BakingIrene - please tell me why no kebab sticks? I've done this twice & thought I found a great compromise to dowels. Especially since I'm only topping the first tier with a 6 inch. I'd LOVE to use straws...but for some reason, they make me nervous. Wood vs. plastic I guess...was the thought.

As far as the mat thingy...the few times I did cover a cake with fondant...I just lightly powdered sugar'd my counter and kept rolling and rotating the fondant. And, took my time.

Sallana Posted 18 Jun 2012 , 3:26pm
post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by EvMarie

I'm a "fondant on cookie" girl. I have yet to add fondant to cakes on a consistant basis. I've seen people on here use marshmellow fondant with success.

I have not used any other fondant - just because I don't want to waste the money if it doesn't turn out right. So, I guess we are in the same boat on that.

I do love using heavy cream in my buttercream...it does make it creamier & less sweet. If you check a hershey site...they could possibly post their cake with the boiling water. It's the one I use - it's really great.

BakingIrene - please tell me why no kebab sticks? I've done this twice & thought I found a great compromise to dowels. Especially since I'm only topping the first tier with a 6 inch. I'd LOVE to use straws...but for some reason, they make me nervous. Wood vs. plastic I guess...was the thought.

As far as the mat thingy...the few times I did cover a cake with fondant...I just lightly powdered sugar'd my counter and kept rolling and rotating the fondant. And, took my time.




What is your buttercream recipe? All the ones that I have seen call for butter, powdered sugar and shortening. So I'm not sure what to substitute for the cream.

EvMarie Posted 19 Jun 2012 , 6:03am
post #11 of 12

I use Indydebi's buttercream recipe.

I like to beat till smooth - 1 cup unsalted butter. Then, add 1 cup shortening & 1 tbs. of flavor. Beat till smooth again. Then, add 2lb's of powdered sugar. It'll be a tad difficult to work it all in with out a mess....it won't be easily spreadable at this stage.

Then, add cold milk ( I use heavy whipping cream when I have it) by the tablespoon until I get the spreading consistancy I want. When I used milk it was 4 or 5 tablespoons. I don't really measure the cream...I just kinda add, mix, and take a look. I suspect it's around the same amount.

hope that helps....

Sallana Posted 19 Jun 2012 , 7:46am
post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by EvMarie

I use Indydebi's buttercream recipe.

I like to beat till smooth - 1 cup unsalted butter. Then, add 1 cup shortening & 1 tbs. of flavor. Beat till smooth again. Then, add 2lb's of powdered sugar. It'll be a tad difficult to work it all in with out a mess....it won't be easily spreadable at this stage.

Then, add cold milk ( I use heavy whipping cream when I have it) by the tablespoon until I get the spreading consistancy I want. When I used milk it was 4 or 5 tablespoons. I don't really measure the cream...I just kinda add, mix, and take a look. I suspect it's around the same amount.

hope that helps....




I'll give it a try tomorrow icon_smile.gif

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