First Big Cake And Lots Of Questions!

Baking By monkbun Updated 4 Jun 2016 , 6:43pm by kakeladi

monkbun Posted 3 Jun 2016 , 6:50pm
post #1 of 6

I'm baking a graduation cake today for a family member and I'm a little nervous about it. I even contemplated buying a walmart cake and giving them that! lol I was asked to bake a sheet cake with half chocolate and half vanilla batter.They asked for a decoration of a graduation cap on the cake along with some writing and filling. So I have a bunch of questions and although I've been reading up on these forums, I thought it best to just ask everything in one post. I don't want to screw up and can't afford to. Please help! :) 


* So I'll be baking a chocolate recipe and white cake recipe that I found on I Am Baker blog because I've heard good things. I'm doing two 9x13's (one for each flavor) and then putting them together. Will this be a decent size and shape for it? 9x13 is all I have. 
* Both those recipes are made for two 8 inch rounds. How much difference would I need for a 9x13 baking time? 

* Should I grease AND flour my pan if I'm using parchment paper on the bottom? 

* Once the cake is done I plan on using a leveler to level the cake and hopefully split it in haldf for buttercream filling. I don't want it to fall apart. How can I prevent this? I've heard you need to chill it but for how long and fridge or freezer? 

* I'm also curious to know if putting a damp towel and a pan on my cake will help flatten it out? I've seen this on pinterest but am worried about trying it. 

* Is simple syrup necessary? . At what point would I do this? 

* Is there a way to get my buttercream to look smooth? I was going to but viva paper towels but they only came in huge packs and it was out of my budget. What I do have is a scraper and a big spatula. I'll also have some hot water for the spatula. 

* For smooth buttercream, is "whipped" okay or do I go with the "crusting" butter cream? 

As for decorations, I'm completely lost. I've never piped borders, writting messages or had to make any drawings, all of which I need to do today. I was asked to make a tri colored border on the bottom and top and don't know what tip to use for a basi shell border. 

* When writing out a message, do I use the butter cream for this? Or royal icing? Is fonant possible for the writing if I'm worried about my writing looking sloppy?

* For a drawing of a graduation cap, should I use fondant or something else? 

* I am baking today and delivering tomorrow. Can I leave this out at room tempature over night? 

I know these are a LOT of questions and I'm sorry! But  I really would appreciate ANY help you can give me! I'm just a little freaked out about getting it right and giving them a nice looking cake. 

This is the piture they sent me for reference by the way. They want this cake with the graduation cake instead of the panther. 900_first-big-cake-and-lots-o_9888625751d16f34740.png





5 replies
yjflores1 Posted 3 Jun 2016 , 7:15pm
post #2 of 6

That will be enough cake batter for both cakes but how tall are you pans 2 inch? If the cake it over 2 inches tall them yes you can cut to fill but I would let it cook down first on the counter or you can stick it in the fridge although it may make the cake dry. Did they leave the topping up to you? If so whipped cream is so much easier and  faster IMO. Dollar general sells viva towels if you end up using buttercream and the roll is only 2$. You will do just fine just plan you're time ahead wisely so you won't freak out and rush through it. It's also a lot easier when your buttercream is watered down not so hard consistency to do any writing . I would practice on wax paper or what ever you have Infront of you before writing on the cake. I local country kitchen store sells caps cake toppers for 6$ it would be so much easier on you vs fondant. HTH:)

monkbun Posted 3 Jun 2016 , 7:52pm
post #3 of 6

Thank you for the tips. They asked for any kind of white icing so I bought ingredients for I am Baker's whipped vanilla butter cream.  I'll check my local dollar store for the paper towels, thanks. :) 


hippiecac Posted 3 Jun 2016 , 7:58pm
post #4 of 6


* Should I grease AND flour my pan if I'm using parchment paper on the bottom? 

Won't hurt to have extra insurance!

* Once the cake is done I plan on using a leveler to level the cake and hopefully split it in haldf for buttercream filling. I don't want it to fall apart. How can I prevent this? I've heard you need to chill it but for how long and fridge or freezer? 

In every bakery I've worked at (there have been a few) and in my own business I've never torted cakes. It's so much easier to bake a couple thin layer and fill them. If you really want to torte, refrigerate or freeze until firm but not frozen. About 1 hour in fridge should be good.

* I'm also curious to know if putting a damp towel and a pan on my cake will help flatten it out? I've seen this on pinterest but am worried about trying it. 

I've never used this trick. Seems like an extra unnecessary step for a novice baker. I also think it would make the cake gummy where the damp towel is.

* Is simple syrup necessary? . At what point would I do this? 

I checked out the recipes you linked to. They should be fine without a soak. Usually soaks are needed for a very dry cake. 

* Is there a way to get my buttercream to look smooth? I was going to but viva paper towels but they only came in huge packs and it was out of my budget. What I do have is a scraper and a big spatula. I'll also have some hot water for the spatula. 

Honestly, practice is the best way to get smooth buttercream. I use a bench scraper for the sides and a long offset spatula for the top. Be careful with hot water, it can make the butter melt and discolor the icing.

* For smooth buttercream, is "whipped" okay or do I go with the "crusting" butter cream? 

The only buttercream I use is SMBC (Swiss Meringue Buttercream). It smooths like a dream and is delicious. I personally think crusting buttercream is gross, but many many people like it. 

As for decorations, I'm completely lost. I've never piped borders, writting messages or had to make any drawings, all of which I need to do today. I was asked to make a tri colored border on the bottom and top and don't know what tip to use for a basi shell border. 

For a shell border you need a star tip, such as Wilton#22. Since you're doing 3 colors you will need 3 piping bags each with one of those tips. 

* When writing out a message, do I use the butter cream for this? Or royal icing? Is fonant possible for the writing if I'm worried about my writing looking sloppy?

Buttercream with a Wilton #2 or #3 tip. Practice, practice, practice before piping on the cake. Pipe on a clean cutting board, scrape it off and try again. 

You can use a toothpick to "write" the words on the cake and then pipe on top of it. 

You can also purchase letter cutters if you're really nervous about piping. They work with fondant or gumpaste. Wilton has a set. 

* For a drawing of a graduation cap, should I use fondant or something else? 

If you are good at drawing, then yes you can pipe a cap on the cake. Again like with the writing I suggest practicing before you start piping. You can use the same toothpick trick to sketch it out before piping.

Alternate options include Wilton sugar sheets - you can cut out your shape and stick it right on top of the cake. Very easy to use. 

* I am baking today and delivering tomorrow. Can I leave this out at room tempature over night? 

Yes, as long as you aren't filling with whipped cream/fresh fruit or anything that requires refrigeration. Buttercream is ok at room temp. 


I feel like this was an ad for WIlton products, lol. I actually don't use them much but I know that they are the most accessible options for most people.  I strongly suggest a lot of practice holding a piping bag and getting used to how much pressure you need. 

remnant3333 Posted 4 Jun 2016 , 4:08pm
post #5 of 6

Looks like a fairly easy design to do but piping does take practice and lots of it. You should have either made some buttercream for practicing on wax paper or side and top of cake pan to get the feel of the piping bag and how much pressure to squeeze when making a border. It just takes practice so don't sweat it!! I look back at some of my first cakes and you can see that as time goes by you do get better at decorating which comes with experience. 

Hang in there because if you are doing it for free the family will be thrilled no matter what!! You can do it!!!!

kakeladi Posted 4 Jun 2016 , 6:43pm
post #6 of 6


Quote by @monkbun on 23 hours ago

* So I'll be baking a chocolate recipe and white cake recipe that I found on I Am Baker blog because I've heard good things. I'm doing two 9x13's (one for each flavor) and then putting them together. Will this be a decent size and shape for it? 9x13 is all I have. 
* Both those recipes are made for two 8 inch rounds. How much difference would I need for a 9x13 baking time? 

........Answer:A 9x13x2 pan uses another 1/2 batch of the recipe you said you are using.

* Should I grease AND flour my pan if I'm using parchment paper on the bottom? 

Answer: no, just grease. 

* Once the cake is done I plan on using a leveler to level the cake and hopefully split it in haldf for buttercream filling. I don't want it to fall apart. How can I prevent this? I've heard you need to chill it but for how long and fridge or freezer? 

Answer: it would be helpful to chill - about 1/2 to 1 hour in the frig. 

* I'm also curious to know if putting a damp towel and a pan on my cake will help flatten it out? I've seen this on pinterest but am worried about trying it. 

Answer:  This does make the cake flat usually BUT......it can cause small creack on the edges and make the cake a bit less fluffy (more solid - sort of like a pound cake).

* Is simple syrup necessary? . At what point would I do this? 

Answer:  Depends on the recipe you used.  I don't do scratch baking so can't say if your cake will need it.  If you do use it apply as soon as you turn the cake out of the pan.  Use a spray bottle to apply so you don't get too much and cause the cake to be soggy.

* Is there a way to get my buttercream to look smooth? I was going to but viva paper towels but they only came in huge packs and it was out of my budget. What I do have is a scraper and a big spatula. I'll also have some hot water for the spatula. 

Answer:  A lot depends on the icing recipe you are using.  To be able to use Viva the b'cream must crust - dry to the touch.  Whipped will NOT work for you.

As for decorations, I'm completely lost. I've never piped borders, writting messages or had to make any drawings, all of which I need to do today. I was asked to make a tri colored border on the bottom and top and don't know what tip to use for a basi shell border. 

Answer: this can be tricky for someone who have never done it.  Fill your icing bag w/smallish amounts of the three colors.  Put one color against one side of the bag; next one in the center and of course the 3rd against the other side.  As you squeeze the bag you will see the 3 distinct colors :)

* When writing out a message, do I use the butter cream for this? Or royal icing? Is fonant possible for the writing if I'm worried about my writing looking sloppy?

Answer: I always did my writting in b'cream.  No need for royal.  If you want to use fondant you have to hand form each letter - either in script or individual letters.

* For a drawing of a graduation cap, should I use fondant or something else? 

Answer:  Bake a cupcake - the larger the better:)  For the flat top use a graham cracker, cookie or other cracker.  You can ice them in b'cream or fondant as you wish.  To make the tassle, fondant would be best - form a sausage then scratch lines down to make it look like string. 

* I am baking today and delivering tomorrow. Can I leave this out at room tempature over night? 

Answer: Yes.  







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