Need Help With My First Birthday Cake!!!

Decorating By gooniegirl Updated 29 Jun 2010 , 8:04am by tinygoose

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gooniegirl Posted 28 Jun 2010 , 11:58pm
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Hi everyone! Never been on a forum like this.....I am sooooo hope this will be helpful to me.

I am throwing my son his very first BIG birthday party, but alas, with the economy, we are on a very tight budget. Therefore, I had the grand idea of making the cake myself. OMG.

So I turn to all of you and your vast knowledge base for help! I am a good cook. Definately not clueless in the kitchen. Nor am I afraid of trying new things. I have the idea of creating a 3 tiered square birthday cake with fondant. To add to the already complicated idea, I am doing the fondant in a camouflage pattern to match the parties "army" theme complete with fondant dog tags and cap as decoration. I's already WAY over my head. What am I thinking?!!

But I am determined to find a way to make this work. I haven't priced out what this cake would cost from a bakery, but I'm imagining it would be very costly. That's why I figured I'd do this myself. Does anyone know what a cake like this would roughly cost? (14base,12and 10tiers)

My first step finding a good support system that's CHEAP. Any suggestions?My next step....figuring out what type of cake recipe to use that is dense enough to cut, fill and crumb coat. The box mixes (betty crocker) always turn out extremely fluffy and loose and I need something I can work with. Any ideas?
As for the camouflage fondant, I have researched that area and found that you can simply color and cut out different fondant shapes and attach them to a single piece of fondant and lay that over the cake. The fondant seems to appear to be very easy to work with and use, but is that true? Im mostly interested in the marshmellow fondant since it seems fast and easy to make and most of all....CHEAP! Any thoughts on this form of fondant?
PLEASE HELP!!!! Party is in 2 weeks!

9 replies
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AnotherCreation Posted 29 Jun 2010 , 12:13am
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Good Luck. There's alot to it and not as "easy" as you think. My suggestion would be to search the forums for all of the answers you are looking for. Everything you asked has been asked before. Try youtube for instructional videos.

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kellymarie Posted 29 Jun 2010 , 12:36am
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Having learned on my own for basically the same reason- i will say fondant came very easy for me... the baking was the most difficult think to pick up lol. I have heard the wasc (white almond sour cream) recipe is very sturdy for stacking ect, and you can flavor it in many ways to suit your tastes.

I have always used the lollipop sticks form michaels for supports- the trick for me was to measure one, then cut them all the same. I use 5. I stack on site, so i would suggest that as well- not sure if the party is at home or not. I would suggest you do a smaller cake if this is your first but that's just my opinion icon_smile.gif a 6" 8" 10" might be an easier task?

In regards to camo fondant- never done it before but i imagine you can do it as you say, i would place the shapes/colors on top and roll over the fondant to get them to blend in so to speak. You tube was a great tool for watching fondant being applied and the wilton smoothers are my friend!!

bake a day early, then decorate the next to give yourself the time to work on the fondant slowly without stress, and if you do not have a/c, work at night when it is cool... heat sucks when mixed with cake icon_wink.gif

I hope that all helps! And even if the cake is not perfect, it will be a fun experience!! have fun and post a picture after!!

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kakeladi Posted 29 Jun 2010 , 12:39am
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...... box mixes (betty crocker) always turn out extremely fluffy and loose and I need something I can work with. ideas? .....

My *original* WASC recipe is the perfect answer to this.
Have you thought of the cost of b uying the equipment you need? Do you have the needed pans? Do you have a cake spatula? A bench scraper? tips and bags to pipe any decorations (borders)? A good Support system is not especially cheap.
You need a base board (can be doubled or tripled cake boards) and one board for each size cake - more $$s.
Any idea of how many batches of batter one needs for that size cake? Like 10. How many it will serve? like over 200 icon_smile.gif
MM Fondant? can be cheap IF you know the tricks/ins and outs of the recipe(s). Do you have a stand mixer like a KitchenAid? I wouldn't try it w/o one. You will need some 3 or 4 batches of it. Often one bactch will be perfect, the next noticon_sad.gif As for it being easy to handle....for most people it is. If you can make and handle pie crust you should be able to handle MMF. You also need to have b'cream icing under the fondant....more $$s.
It's a GIANT undertaking. Really think it over.

I just read the other poster's use of lollypop sticks.....not for such a big cake! I suggest the use of Wilton's hollow 'hidden' pillars OR SPS sytem. Not a cheap investment but reusable many times over when it's for home use.

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KrissieCakes Posted 29 Jun 2010 , 12:44am
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Do you already have the pans that you need? They are pretty pricey alone. I just checked Wilton's website and they don't even make a 14" square pan...they would've been one of the cheapest options. Fat Daddio's would probably be the next cheapest and without shipping that would run you about $42 for the pans.

Since it's for your own party, I'm assuming you won't be moving the cake too much - wooden dowels would probably be the most economical choice for your support system.

For your cake amounts - you will need about 43 cups of batter (according to Wilton's batter chart). The recipe I use makes about 6 cups of you'd need 8 recipes worth - which at my cost (I'm not a bakery, so no bulk rates here!) would be about $36 for my cheapest cake. I would think you would need at least 2, if not 3 batches of buttercream (I use the Buttercream Dream recipe from CC, so some may make more than this one). That would cost me about $18. So just for cake and buttercream you are now at $54. Plus the pans, you are at $96.

As far as recipes, I use the WASC recipe found here on CC for white cakes and the Darn Good Chocolate recipe. Both start with box mixes and have tons of stuff added to them. Absolutely delicious and easy to work with.

I personally think that MMF is a pain in the butt and I just use Satin Ice. I'm not sure on the cost of MMF, but if you were to cover those 3 tiers in Satin Ice, you would need about 90 oz. (roughly 5 1/2 pounds) of fondant (according to the Satin Ice website). If you buy all white and color it yourself, that runs about 14.99 plus shipping for a 5 lb pail (on Now you are at $111 plus shipping. This doesn't include the cost of any kind of tools you may need to purchase, such as cake boards, dowels, a cake base, fondant smoother, large rolling pin, any cutters you need, etc.

Lastly, I would not call any of this process easy. Baking 3 tiers of cake, making the buttercream, making the MMF is going to take you HOURS. Then add in the decorating time. Some of my cakes have taken me around 15-18 hours of solid work (not including cake cooling or settling, or fondant drying times).

I would defnitely take the advice of a previous poster...scour this website for advice, watch youtube videos (especially by tonedna!), and practice. Good luck!

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noahsmummy Posted 29 Jun 2010 , 12:56am
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i found fondant extremly difficult to work with, ive only just *sorta nearly* mastered it, i would recommend you go with a crusting buttercream and use the viva or roller method to get it smooth, and then do fondant accents.

the cake is going to be expensive. haha i choose to buy all my ingredients a bit at a time so i dont scare myself with how much they actually cost me..but i know its alot.

as for the supports system, you can use bubble tea straws, or any other "heavy duty" straws and cardboard cake rounds..

i would do a practise cake first, and i would start baking 3 days before the party at least if i were you. you could even start baking now and freeze the cakes (well wrapped) 2 days before, when you would take the out and start decorating. remember its best to let the cake have at least 12 hours to settle with filling and crumb coat.

the cap.... i would probably try and pick something up from a bargain shop, unless you want to make it out of gumpaste, in which case, start making now, because its going to need time to harden, same goes with dog tags.

good luck! my first "attempt" at decorating was my sons bday cake too.. LOL TOTAL DISASTER! but it was on a hot humid day as well. hahaha, everything was melting.. its was a tragedy. hahaha. have to make up for it this year.

good luck and let us know how you go!

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gooniegirl Posted 29 Jun 2010 , 5:31am
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WOW thanks for all the advice! I had no idea that a cake that size fed so many people....nor did I know it would cost so much!

Still though....I wonder if there is a poor mans way to still do this cake on a budget.

Are there any other cake recipes that would suffice that perhaps I can just make from a box mix? Anything available on the market like that? I was even considering doing a "Sandra Lee" version and doing it "semi-homade". Perhaps purchasing prebaked and frosted cakes from a local grocery store and then just stacking and decorating them myself? Would that work?

As far as the marshmellow fondant goes.....I keep getting mixed reviews of it. Some say it's hard to work with and other think it's easy. But why? Nobody seems to tell me "why" it's hard to work with. I liked it because the ingredients were cheap and the process to make it was fast and simple. I got the idea after watching some videos of how to do it on the website for a cake bakery called "Piece of Cake". Any info on that?

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soledad Posted 29 Jun 2010 , 6:10am
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Budget wise, I would do cupcakes with a 6" top cake.You could make your own cupcakestand there are tutorial here on CC to make it and you can make camo decorations of fondant for the cupcakes.Being first time I would not try to make the fondant ... I would buy it. I read someplace that you should not try to do so many new steps at the same time, specially in baking. Google images and put in search camouflage cakes or camouflage cupcakes there you can get an idea. But go with a smaller cake, it seems easy to work with fondant, but it is not! I have been into cake decoration now for almost 1 1/2 yrs and still my work is not free of wrinkles.(I only do for family and friend) Good luck!! You can do it,only begin in a smaller scale, for now!

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noahsmummy Posted 29 Jun 2010 , 6:49am
post #9 of 10

^^^^ ditto ditto ditto. when i firts got intot his i kept trying huge massive things that were way above me, and kept getting really disappointed with the results, now i try things more suited to my level, and am much much happier with the results im getting.

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tinygoose Posted 29 Jun 2010 , 8:04am
post #10 of 10

If you were one of my friends I'd tell you....

If you've never stacked a cake before I would start with a 6" on an 8" round which serves approx. 36, or a 6" on a 10" round which serves 50. I wouldn't go higher than 2 tiers, or you're just going to really stress yourself out. I don't know how many people you are serving but most 1st birthdays....mmm guessing 20-40. You can surround the cake with cupcakes if you need more servings.

If the cake isn't being transported I'd just use bubble straws for supports. Make sure your 6" has cakeboard under it. You can stack jello if your supports are good.

If you have to transport the cake I would search SPS (single plate system) systems on this site.

I'd make a 6" single layer "smash" cake for the b-day boy, similarly decorated.

As for fondant. I use Satin Ice, some people love MMF, but I think it can look sloppy & greasy if you don't do it right. A good buttercream like Swiss Meringue smooths beautifully, and you may want to just do a buttercream cake with fondant accents. I'd color the base buttercream a camo color and add fondant accents. It would be a lot easier.

Get out your husbands level, and make sure your bottom tier is level before stacking. Start baking 3 days before (line the bottom of your pan with parchment paper-this is important), keep your cake well sealed, and freeze or refrigerate...this is not something you can whip out in one day. After leveling, torting & filling allow the cake to settle overnight (wrapped) in the fridge if filling are perishable. Crumb coat, apply buttercream (use a bench scraper to smooth), and decorate. Even with this, if you have all the pans, still expect to spend around $50-100 on supplies. Fondant, parchment paper, butter, food colors, cake board, cutters, they add up fast.

I just did a camping cake (in my pics) for a family event and even with all the equipment I own I spent over $91 on supplies (that's what I used, what I actually purchased was more $$$). Granted it did have over 5 lbs of fondant and 3 lbs of white chocolate, but it always costs more and takes longer than I think it will. I started doing cakes, so my kids would have cool cakes for their birthdays too. Best of luck....let us know how it goes.

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