Simple Cake Decorating

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.

Bert and Ernie cake pan
 This is a scan from the original film photo. Not the greatest scan, mind you.

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.

Just 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.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I’ll earn a commission if you purchase through them, at no extra cost to you. Thank you!

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.

    Barbie cake made with a cake pan or oven safe bowl

    My daughter felt very special.

    How to decorate a cake with icing stars

    The next year, I made a ballerina stage cake (with my daughter’s help!)

    Ballerina cake with decorative icing stars and ballerina cake picks

    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.)

    Tigger cake made from a Tigger character cake pan

    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.

    Linking to:

    Esme Salon, Sum of Their Stories, A Pinch of Joy, My Random Musings, Mostly Blogging, Sew Can Do, Wonderful Wednesday, Fluster Buster

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    1. Nice cakes! I'm impressed. I haven't ventured out into cake making too much yet, but I think you're right. All I need to learn to do is make stars 🙂

      Thanks for visiting my blog earlier. I'm following you too!

    2. Nice! I remember having cakes like that when I was a child. Thanks for sharing at our Handmade Tuesdays party.

    3. Hello WFP is well?
      you really have much talent for decorating cakes, it can be considered a profissioanal in the area!
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    4. I did the same for my first child and now I buy them because I just lack the time and the desire to make them myself. It also supports a local mom who is trying to make a business out of cake making.

      Great cakes!

      Visiting from SITS, make it a great day!

    5. I should take a class on this. It would be cheaper than buying, which is what I usually do. Cute cakes!

    6. You have totally inspired me! I'm going to make baking a special cake like this on my summer project list!

    7. I feel accomplished if get some stars plastered on the bottom of the cake! But maybe I'll get brave and try something more next time 🙂

    8. Thank you for sharing and boosting the confidence I might take on it this year… I love all the cakes you made for your daughter and she is one lucky girl…

    9. Your cakes look great! I love making cakes for my kids and family. The barbie cake you made is adorable 🙂

    10. Those all turned out great! I made a few for each of my boys' but my favorite had to be the pirate ship cake I made; in the shape of an actual pirate ship.

    11. Hi Pam, my daughter would have loved the ballet cake when she was little. I had no idea, just make stars. Do you follow a pattern though? How do you get the design to come out so perfect? Mine would be all deformed haha. Thanks for sharing at #SSPS 256

      1. Hi Maria,
        It’s so much easier than it looks. Your question was a great one, and I updated the post after your comment! Usually, there’s a photo when you buy the pan, so that you have something to go by. Also, the indentations in the cake make the design very clear, too. The photo does help with the colors, etc. I added a link to a Mickey pan that shows how the pans come with a photo. The Bert and Ernie pan is still available on Amazon, too, although I think it is only sold Used. (I made that cake about 28 years ago!) I also added a link to a Wilton YouTube video that gives a lot of great advice about using these character pans. (Back when I did mine, though, the video might have intimidated me a little bit, because I didn’t do any of the outlining on the details, etc. I just used stars! It’s a really helpful video, though.)

        1. Thank you so much for the update! The design in the pan and the picture would definitely be a big help. I will have to pick an “easy” one and give it a try 🙂

          1. You’re welcome, Maria! I’m really glad you asked your question because it prompted me to update the post more clearly!

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