Bunch Of Questions From A Newbie...

Decorating By all4my3boys Updated 21 Aug 2013 , 7:46am by Smckinney07

all4my3boys Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
all4my3boys Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 2:51am
post #1 of 7

Hi All,


I am new to this site and am a novice.  By no means do I classify myself as anywhere near well-versed in the art of cake-making, however I did purchase a large spatula, cake leveler, cake lifter and 3 different size pans tonight...  well on my way!  icon_biggrin.gif  A little background (if you don't care, skip the rest of this paragraph) - I work full-time, love to scrapbook, do anything crafty and try new cooking and baking projects in the kitchen.  I am a wife and mother of 2 wonderful boys (ages 9 and 4)...  my husband is my 3rd boy, and I would truly do anything for them all - even attempt a Topsy Turvy cake for my son with only 2 weeks lead-time!


I love making different things, and like to challenge myself.  However, I tend to take on a huge challenge about 2 weeks before I need the cake for a party.  This one happens to be a TT cake for my son's 5th birthday party.  I have read a tutorial on it, and the basics of it seem pretty easy.  My questions are as follows (remember, I am new, so be gentle):


  • What is the best thing to dirty ice a cake with?  Will the buttercream frosting I am using for the actual frosting be ok, or will that not get hard enough?  How long should it be cooled before being iced/decorated?  And finally (on the dirty icing subject), how long CAN it be in the fridge/cooler before it gets yucky?  Basically how far in advance should I, and can I, start this cake?  Don't want to run out of time, nor do I want a cake that tastes like you-know-what.
  • Do you add extracts to buttercream by taste or is there a certain "ratio" of frosting to extract that I should use?
  • I have a recipe for buttercream frosting and I have the Wilton box mixes for the buttercream frosting - anyone have a preference?  I am sure there's nothing like home-made, but wondering if the box mixes are way too easy to pass up, or taste close enough to the real deal...  anything else that will make me use the box mixes over my recipe??
  • Due to time, I am using *gasp* boxed cake mix, but I have read that you can make the following changes to make it more like a bakery cake taste:  add 1-2 extra eggs (the more, the richer), substitute milk for the water & substitute melted butter for the oil and double the amount.  Has anyone tried this and/or have any opinions on it? 


Sorry for the super long post, but due to lack of time (as I have mentioned numerous times) I just don't have time to practice all of these different techniques.  I think this will help me get my newest little "project" started.  THANK YOU!!!

6 replies
kakeladi Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
kakeladi Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 5:08am
post #2 of 7

Hi;  I'll try my best to help you :).

........What is the best thing to dirty ice a cake with?  Will the buttercream frosting I am using for the actual frosting be ok,..........

1st of all - it's NOT called 'dirty icing' :(  The ONLY person I know of that uses that term is Buddy on Cake Boss :(   The real term is crumb coating.  And yes, you use the same b'cream  - just spread it Very, very thin over the cake.  By the time you are ready to put the finish coat of icing on the crumb coat should be dry to the touch. 

.........How long should it be cooled before being iced/decorated?.........

Do you mean the cake?  Completely :)  How long that will take will depend on the size of the cake.  


....how long CAN it be in the fridge/cooler before it gets yucky?........

It's best not to frig cake.  But.....when a filling has been used that must be refrigerated, then completely cover w/plastic wrap OR crumb coat it.  Once you have done that you have sealed the cake and it will not go dry.


 ............how far in advance should I,start this cake? ........

A cake can be baked up to 3 days before it is consumed :)  One can bake & freeze as much as a month or two before icing it and it will still be very, very fresh.  You can make icing a week in advance; a properly crumb coated cake can sit on the kitchen counter up to 3 days.


.......have a recipe for buttercream frosting and ...the Wilton box mixes for the buttercream frosting - anyone have a preference? ........


Oh my :(  I have never tried to Wilton box mix.  It's sooooo easy to make it and usually tastes sooooooo much better.  Here's a link to a great, easy recipe.  http://cakecentral.com/a/2-icing


........I am using *gasp* boxed cake mix........

There is nothing, Nothing, NOTHING wrong w/using a box mix!!  Many of us have made a good business using them - even for wedding cakes.  Please don't think there is something wrong w/using them.

Here is a link for THE BEST cake using a box mix.  Be sure to read the whole post and all the replies as there is lots of info contained there.  http://cakecentral.com/recipe/the-original-wasc-cake-recipe

rsquared02 Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
rsquared02 Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 6:41am
post #3 of 7

You will find all the answers to your questions here with the search tools.  I'm still pretty new myself, but that is my favorite "trick".  


There's debate about all methods of course, everyone has their way of doing things.  I like the WASC recipes (search here, you'll find it).  It starts with mixes, but with a few additions, I always get rave reviews.  Granted, my family and friends are all used to the box mix taste, so that's what they like.  Personally, I find that straight box mix doesn't behave the way I like it, so I prefer to doctor it up.  


I also find that freezing my cakes makes them easier to work with, and of course, easier to work into my schedule.  I freeze cakes up to 2 weeks in advance.  Then I thaw them and use Leah's method to get the air bubbles out (I use a sanitized ceramic tile on top of my cling wrapped cakes for at least 4 hours, usually overnight).  


I always make my own icing, usually using Sharon's recipe.  I don't know if you have time, but her DVD's rock right out loud. I think she has some You Tube videos.  


What do you mean by what is the best thing to dirty ice?  I rarely crumb coat anything.  I use Leah's settling method, then ice my cakes.  I always use a spatula.  I smooth with a bench scraper.  


So my time frame is usually:


Thursday before work, get frozen cakes out of freezer.

Thursday after work, level, fill cake and cover with cling wrap.  Put ceramic tile on top.  Make icing.

Friday morning/afternoon, ice cake, begin decorating (if it was something that required decorations made earlier, those are made as needed).

Deliver either Friday night or Saturday morning, depending on the bday/celebration schedule.  



Good luck.  I was at my local cake store the other night and a lady and her daughter were purchasing pans and a few other things...obviously just starting out.  I wanted to just bust in and help, lol.  I minded my own business since the owner was giving them great advice and helping (even 10 minutes before close on a Saturday night!!!!!) so I kept my mouth shut.  I was just excited for them!!  

rsquared02 Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
rsquared02 Posted 19 Aug 2013 , 6:57am
post #4 of 7

Here's the link to Leah's setting method:  http://cakecentral.com/t/633571/my-newest-trick

all4my3boys Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
all4my3boys Posted 20 Aug 2013 , 9:50pm
post #5 of 7

Sorry about the dirty icing - like I said, I am a novice, but we have always called it that...  because when it's done the icing looks dirty.  icon_sad.gif  I never heard of the term crumb coat until I started watching cooking channels haha.


Because it is a TT cake, not sure if the ceramic tile on top will work, or if it will just slide right off?  I am looking at a cake that will likely be 6 inches high on one side and 2 inches on the other, approximately, after all layers are together.


This should be a rather interesting project and I will certainly post photos once complete - regardless of the outcome!


Thank you for the advice all - I actually have to make a cake for a co-workers birthday this Friday, so I will be trying out the box mix with my additions/changes and see how that tastes and "feels"...  also will be trying my buttercream recipe with it and maybe add an extract or two - just play around a bit.


Thanks again!

AZCouture Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
AZCouture Posted 20 Aug 2013 , 10:11pm
post #6 of 7
Originally Posted by all4my3boys 

 I am looking at a cake that will likely be 6 inches high on one side and 2 inches on the other, approximately, after all layers are together.


Really? Only two inches on one side? Sounds interesting.

Smckinney07 Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
Smckinney07 Posted 21 Aug 2013 , 7:46am
post #7 of 7



Ok, the above links are for your Topsy Turvy Cakes-I highly recommend reading them! The thing about the Whimsical/Topsy Turvy Cakes is they are level, they just appear to be unlevel. The height you are thinking about doing will either look squatty or won't work (at least not the way you want it to). This is an ambitious cake for your first one! I also recommend doing any carving when your cakes cold. Make sure you look at these tutorials, very helpful!


This is the first BC I started out with, it's quick and simple and gives you ratios for adding flavors, which you can change to suit your taste. It's also crusting, and has a tutorial on how to smooth it easily. I wouldn't use a BC from a can, it's way too thick! You can use those to fill your cake layers if you want or just use the same BC (Buttercream) you are frosting with. A crumb coat or 'dirty ice' is just a thin first layer of BC you put on your cakes, you want to push away when spreading BC so you aren't actually touching the cakes (suggest watching a YouTube video on icing a cake) the crumb coat seals in the crumbs so your next layer of icing is nice and clean, free of cake pieces. I recommend using a Hi-ratio shortening rather then Crisco if your making this recipe. If your feeling even more adventurous try a Swiss Meringue (or Italian) Buttercream-you probably have a lot on your plate already. Like I said ambitious for your first cake :)


Now I believe Kakeladi originated the WASC cake (White Almond Sour Cream Cake) which is an extender (or added ingredients) to a box mix. Many people use them, even professionals. The link above is just a collection of different flavor variations to the wasc cake. KL gave you the link for the original.

Good luck! Make sure you have everything you need cake boards for each cake tier, some kind of internal support system, a large board hard enough to hold the completed cake (they can be heavy), ingredients, it's late I can't think of anything else but feel free to ask questions.

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