Flashback many years. My daughter’s first birthday was around the corner, and I wanted a Sesame Street cake for her party.
A friend of mine suggested I decorate the cake myself. She had been decorating cakes for years, and I immediately thought she was really overestimating me. To me, the words “easy” and “cake” decorating were mutually exclusive terms.
I had never decorated a cake in my life, and I had no idea where to start. It was a mystery to me, much like knitting or sewing a straight line. Way out of my league. My friend laughed and said,
“No, really, you can do this. You just make stars all over it with the star tip.”
So I did.
I rented a Bert and Ernie cake pan at the cake store (which was, handily, about 5 minutes from my house), bought a star tip, some bags, some icing and a few colors, and off I went. I covered the entire thing with icing stars.
I know that’s a bit unconventional to use only stars, but it worked.
So, I guess the real point of this post is that cake decorating doesn’t have to involve a lot of skill – just some time and a lot of mess!
Yes, it took me just about the entire day (it was my first time, after all), and yes, my kitchen was destroyed, but I was pretty happy with the result.
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Tips for Baking in a Shaped Cake Pan
- Be sure to use a generous, even coat of nonstick spray in the pan. There are usually lots of crevices in these pans!
- Wait 10 or 15 minutes before you take the cake out of the pan, onto a cooling rack, to avoid breaking the cake, and then wait a couple of hours before you transfer it onto a platter and decorate it.
There is a lot more advice at the Wilton YouTube channel. I didn’t know most of these tips back when I made my cakes because YouTube didn’t exist back then! I’m sure the woman at the cake store gave me a few tips, though.
Also, as you can see in photos below, an image of the finished cake is usually included when you buy a pan, to help you choose colors and create the design. I literally just used stars, but you can also pipe on lines and details with other cake tips.
After that first cake, with my confidence boosted, and without ever taking a class, I went on to decorate more cakes. One of my favorites was the famous Barbie cake. (I rented a pan for the skirt, but learned later that you can use any oven safe bowl.)
That is a whole Barbie in there, but they sell the tops of dolls at the cake store, if you’d rather not stick a doll in a cake! I just iced the skirt, and swirled it a bit. And, the bodice is – you guessed it – stars.
My daughter felt very special.
The next year, I made a ballerina stage cake (with my daughter’s help!)
SO easy. I just made 2 layers of cake, and cut one of them in half. Then I stacked the halves to make the back of the stage. I added an icing curtain. My daughter had so much fun choosing the ballerina figures and sugar roses and putting them on the cake. It was definitely less than perfect, but she loved it.
And finally, Tigger. (Stars again.)
I really wish I would have had this set back then. I think I would have been motivated to decorate even more cakes. (Amazon affiliate link, which means if you purchase through it, I will earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.)
Some of you may be asking, “Why didn’t her poor little boy ever get a fancy decorated cake?” Well, I didn’t get the courage to try this before he was several years old, and from then on, he decided he did not like cake. (I know, this is CRAZY, considering that cake is my favorite food.) So he usually had a cookie cake from the bakery. I did decorate a couple of those!
So, if you’re thinking, as I did, that cake decorating is a complicated mystery, believe me, it’s really not. No class required to learn to make stars. Give it a try–it’s actually very simple. (Yet messy!) Have fun making sweet memories.
This post was originally published in 2012 and updated in 2023.