In Serious Need Of Guidance & Help...

Decorating By andpotts Updated 18 Apr 2008 , 12:52pm by karensue

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andpotts Posted 20 Mar 2008 , 3:49am
post #1 of 11

Well I'm probably going to sound like a complete moron but I've tried to figure stuff out on my own and I just have to ask. A little background,I'm not a novice, but my decorating experience much, I've done a dinosaur, a firetruck and some cool cupcakes, all from shaped pans and using tub frosting (the horror!) But I've gotten pretty decent at using pastry bags and tips. Of course that's why I'm trying something I have no experience with this year icon_smile.gif

Ok so I want to do a pirate ship for my sons birthday, I've gotten wonderful design ideas from the gallery and a few tips, but I need the nitty gritty details. It will be 2 9x13 cakes, the first as the base of the ship cut to shape and the second cake cut and used to make the different levels, then I want to surround the whole thing with blur frosted cupcakes with shark fins to represent the ocean. (the party is at the end of May)

What kind of cake should I use, is box mix ok?
How do you level a 9x13?
Is there a specific brand of pan I should invest in, I only have the kind you can snap a plastic lid on (like my grandma always had icon_smile.gif?
What king of frosting is best for this kind of cake? I've never made homemade and I am scared, is there a mix I can get?
What do I use for the detail work (outlines, windows) ?
Are there any other tips for making a 3d cake I should know?

Thanks so much to anyone who can help me, I know I'm planning early, but I want to avoid a costly disaster and I will be unable to do any practice/test cakes due to being away. T/Y Andrea

10 replies
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Iheartcake Posted 20 Mar 2008 , 12:10pm
post #2 of 11

I can't answer all of your questions since I am by far not a pro. But for a carved cake, I would use an extender recipe, to make it the cake a bit more firm. There are so many out there. The one I use, I got off of this site and it's very easy. 1 Box of cake mix, 1 box of pudding mix, 4 eggs, 3/4 cup oil, 3/4 cup of water, 3 tbsp. of meringue powder, 1 tsp. vanilla. Very easy.. and I really like the results. Still very moist but not crumbly. You could maybe play around with a few of the extender recipes on this site to find the one you like best.

As far as icing goes.. I always go with the wilton icing recipe. There's really nothing to it and everyone I know really likes it. Again, very easy, not much too it. When I see a recipe with 15 ingredients, I panic! Again, there are so many out there and everyone has their favourite. If you don't want to try home-made... Wilton does make a pre-made icing that is a good consistency (from what I've heard.. I haven't used it yet).

For levelling, I just use my Wilton leveller. When flipping the cake, I place a cake board on the top, one on the bottom... that way you don't have to try to pick it up.. which for me always results in the cake splitting in two.

For the pans.. well I've only ever used the Wilton ones, only because that's what is at my local stores.. Magic Line or Fat Daddio's I would have to order online, so I stick with what's local. Others might be able to give more insight on what they prefer.

As far as the other questions.. hopefully someone with more carving experience can help you out. I'm just like you.. I need to plan everything far in advance so I'm somewhat prepared when cake-time comes around. Good luck!!

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lordbuffington Posted 20 Mar 2008 , 1:47pm
post #3 of 11

Andrea, I am a newbie and I was also afraid of making my own buttercream. I got some advice on here and tried the BUTTERCREAM DREAM recipe in the Recipes section and WOW! It is very good and VERY easy to make! I would say it takes me 20 minutes from start to finish. The second time I did it, I used my hand mixer and I found it easier than my stand mixer - but that's just me. You really should try some of the buttercream recipes on this site. WAY better than the tubs from the supermarket!

Have fun!


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andpotts Posted 21 Mar 2008 , 12:07am
post #4 of 11

Thank you both so much!! You are all so helpful, I was getting a little scared thinking I was taking on too much, but after the tips and advice I've gotten here I'm feeling really good about this cake again. I am going to make my own buttercream and hope for the best icon_smile.gif I'll be sure to post pictures, thanks again!

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BROOKSIE007 Posted 21 Mar 2008 , 1:57am
post #5 of 11

Here is a really good buttercream recipe. 4 cups of powdered sugar, 1 cup of crisco, 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 5-6 tablespoons of milk. You can use more or less milk to get the texture you want. It is really easy and good! You may be overbaking your cakes. Maybe that is why they keep breaking. Just make sure they have cooled completely before cutting and moving. I try to let my cakes rest over night.

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kansaswolf Posted 21 Mar 2008 , 2:20am
post #6 of 11

Depending on how TALL your ship is going to be, I might suggest looking up some of the threads on doweling and seperator plates... If it's very tall (Over three or four layers), you'll need a bit more internal support.

Also, if you're planning on putting masts on the cake, I've heard a lot of people use styrofoam (covered) for the base, then they can sharpen a dowel to stick through the cake and into the base. That MAY be all the support you need, if you use two or three masts! Plus, there's less chance of the masts pulling over part of the cake... Just a thought to ponder.

And I agree, homemade icing is actually pretty easy, and more forgiving than some people realize! You may need a little more milk or powdered sugar (depending on the humidity or if you accidentally slosh a bunch of milk in there... Been there, done that...), but if you know the consistency you want, you can kind of eyeball the ingredients for the most part...

I use margarine or butter in most of my icing (butter flavoring and Crisco just doesn't quite cut it for me!). I like the taste better, but it WILL tend to melt faster in warm weather... However, mine usually crusts nicely in a short while and is pretty much good to go! 1 C butter, 1 1/2 lbs powdered sugar, 2 tsp vanilla, 3-5 tbs milk. Mmmm...

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Momkiksbutt Posted 21 Mar 2008 , 2:24am
post #7 of 11

Let me see if I can offer you some help that will let you make a great cake, and make it easier for you to do also.

First of all you should be using the Almond Sourcream White Cake recipe which I will PM to you. This is the most popular and is also the best one around.

Second, if you are going to start doing cakes more often, invest in a few nice pans. Michaels Crafts has a great selection of Wilton pans all the time. And magic line is a great product as well. My regular pans(non shaped) are all magic line.

For the pirate cake, I'd recommend that you get the football cake pan and use that as a base, and then make a quarter sheet, cut lay the football pan on it(right in the middle) and cut out the shape, and lift it out. Place the football cake, round side down, in the middle of the cut out cake, and then the cut cake on top of the flat side of the football one. This gives you your base cake, and your ship at the same time! It also adds some height to the ship and makes it look more like a ship and less like a football.

You can use alot of different thing for decorating it. Including little plastic figures( I get mine from the Dollar Tree). Large pretzel sticks make great masts, and you can even use the little ones for smaller features like railings and framework. They look really great if you cover them in fondant first, and are totally edible! The pretzels make them not only strong, but are light weight! Most folks use either wafer paper(edible) or you can use regular paper to make your sails. Fondant is great for making little things like cannon balls, and you could even use your big pretzels broken in half or fours, built up and covered in fondant, for the cannons. Uncooked spagetti can be used covered in fondant or just plain for things like rigging, and straight lines that need only bend alittle. Braid some fondant and you have rope!

You can do anything your imagination can dream up! Most of all have fun, and know your children will love it because you made it!!

Now to send you the recipe..... thumbs_up.gif

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andpotts Posted 18 Apr 2008 , 5:55am
post #8 of 11

Wow thanks ladies! I'm so excited for this project now! I am taking everyone's advice and hoping for the best.

I'm going to do the WASC and make my own buttercream. I ordered Magic Line pans online. Decided to use three 9x13 for height and I will use the mast to dowel, I will also use seperator boards. I can't thank everyone here enough, I will for sure post pictures when I'm done, hopefully not in the "disasters" section! icon_smile.gif

I have been a lurker for so long and now I full on have the cake bug, I can't wait to get back to my own kitchen my DH thinks I'm crazy because boxes of 'cake stuff' keeps arriving icon_smile.gif

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Amia Posted 18 Apr 2008 , 6:16am
post #9 of 11
Originally Posted by andpotts

my DH thinks I'm crazy because boxes of 'cake stuff' keeps arriving icon_smile.gif

So I'm not the only one.....

Good luck with your cake! I want to do a pirate ship too, so thanks for starting this thread! Oh and I second the Buttercream Dream and the Wilton bc recipes...they're both good! thumbs_up.gif

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lastingmoments Posted 18 Apr 2008 , 7:13am
post #10 of 11

i would have to say that when I made my pirate cake I found it to be sooo easy and fun!

I used a 9x13 3 high and carved the shape out. I then used my cake scraps to add height to the front and back of my ship. I iced it with frosting them cut strips of fondant. But i dont see why it wouldnt be just as easy to use a basket weave tip for the planks or ship exterior. after I had the ship iced I used dowels for my mast and did my accents.....I used luster dust to make cannon balls and stuff but I can think of lots of other things that would would for accents and I even agree that the dollar store is a great place for figures.......I think this cake is easy and forgiving because if you have a lil mess up you can always find something to cover .........I had to add an icing border for water after I shoved my finger in the bottom...whoops!

I agree with the others as for icing theres tons of recipes on here that are easy and taste great....I dont see why you wouldnt have good results with a box mix!

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karensue Posted 18 Apr 2008 , 12:52pm
post #11 of 11

I did some instructions for the pirate ship I made (in my gallery). They might have a few hints that you could use. You should be able to find them by doing a search for Pirate Ship Instructions. If not, PM me and I will email them to you.

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