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"Blinging" Up Your Basic Birthday Cake

By Alisa Bangerter - Studio 5 Party, Holiday and Idea


Decorate With Candy - Candy can be used to embellish a cake or add fun accents. Adding unusual or unique candy can add to the appeal of the cake.

" Use a variety of the same color of candy to cover a cake. Unique candy can be purchased by color at www.candywarehouse.com

" Unwrapped lollipops (especially swirled or novelty) are cute coming out of the center of a cake. Multiple rock candy lollipops on a stick look great lined around the edge (stick up) of a cake.

" Borders are really cute made with candy. Try Whoppers, Spree, M & M's gumdrops, jellybeans, Dots, Nerds Rope, licorice, etc.

" Polka dots are easily made on a cake using candy such as Spree, Necco Wafers, Smarties, licorice wheels, M & M's, Sixlets, etc.

" Use chopped candy bars (or cookies) instead of sprinkles.

" Line the sides of a cake with unwrapped chocolate type candy bars (Kit Kats work great for this).

" Roll cut pieces of gumdrops in sugar and mold to make flowers, leaves, etc.

" Soften Starburst candy in the microwave (only a few seconds) and roll out. Cut into small shapes or mold into desired forms.

" Create flat scenes using candy and novelty candy.

" Fruit roll-up type candy can be cut into small shapes or used as is.

Create a Scene - Small toys, ceramic figurines and other objects can be added to cakes to create a scene or be part of a gift.

" Bakeries, craft stores, or online cake decorating supply stores often sell basic items to be used to create a scene (sports, princess, etc.) Hundreds of unique novelty items and picks such as trees, bushes, flags, figurines, sports/beach balls, boats, etc. can be ordered online at places such as: www.sugarcraft.com, www.shopcountrykitchen.com, www.babykakes.com, www.wilton.com, www.fancyflours.com

" Scenes can be created for many types of hobbies or interests. Think fishing, hunting, soccer, beach, racecar, ballet, golf, etc.

" Use toys (Legos, small cars or trucks, puzzle pieces, animals, trees, crowns, etc.).

" Use candy to create scenes.

" Use products in your pantry to make realistic items (toasted coconut, crushed graham crackers or brown sugar for sand, powdered sugar for snow, raisins or nuts for rocks, pretzels for tree trunks, etc.)

" One of my favorite cake scenes to create is a construction scene. Simply cover a cake with chocolate icing. Pile pieces of baked and torn chocolate cake in a corner. Add several toy tractors and dump trucks. Mound and swirl chocolate icing on cake to look like piles of dirt. Add candy spilling out of the trucks and in the cake pile. Add candy rocks as appropriate. Crushed Oreos also add to the dirt look.

" Make sure non-food items used on a cake are clean and food safe. If questionable, place a piece of foil or plastic wrap under object so it can be removed from cake before serving.

Embellish With Chocolate - Beautiful cakes can be made by simply adding some easy chocolate embellishments.

" Drizzle melted chocolate over a cake and let set.

" Dust a cake with cocoa powder (works best on cakes iced with chocolate frosting or grated chocolate.

" Spread melted chocolate or almond bark onto a Silpat mat or parchment paper. Let set and break into large chunks. Carefully place around entire edge of cake. Wrap with a ribbon if desired.

" Make chocolate curls or ruffles to add as an accent or to completely cover cake top and sides.

" Pipe chocolate shapes (hearts, swirls, initials, etc.) on waxed paper or a Silpat mat and let set. Add to cake.

" Using a spatula, randomly swirl melted chocolate with icing to add pockets of set chocolate.

" Place individual dipped (boxed) chocolates on a cake to cover top or as accents.

Use Fresh Flowers - Fresh flowers are easy to add and can be stunning. A great option from icing flowers.

" Be aware that many flowers/greenery commercially purchased have been treated with chemicals or may be poisonous. Wash carefully or place a barrier between cake and flowers if needed. An option would be to grow your own flowers or to consult a florist for options.

" Many affordable flowers are readily available. Some of my favorites are roses, mini carnations, daisies, pansies, and mums.

" Flowers can be sugared or crystallized before adding to cake for a different look.

" Place individual petals on a cake (roses are great for this) to make a stunning statement.

" Money can be saved on wedding cakes by purchasing several plain iced cakes in several sizes from a bakery (or make your own). Simply display at different levels and arrange fresh flowers on each cake in a beautiful spray. Simple cakes become stunning.

Use a Round Decorating Tip - A simple round piping tip and pastry bag can be used to add easy and fun accents to a cake even if you have minimal decorating experience or skills.

" A basic round piping tip (comes in various sizes) can be used to add dots, swirls, lines, zig-zags, etc. to a cake.

" Use a round tip to personalize a cake - even a purchased cake - with a favorite color(s), school or team colors, etc.

" My favorite technique with a round tip is to make "confetti" strings. Simply drizzle and drape icing randomly over the edge border of a cake. Repeat with several colors making it look like confetti has been draped over the edge. Add flat sprinkles for extra confetti look.

Bake a Unique Shape - A simple cake can seem fancy if baked in an unusual way or stacked creatively.

" Bake cakes in shapes you might not normally consider such as square, oval, heart, diamond, hexagon, etc.

" Character pans are always loved by kids but cut-up cakes can be made in many great shapes and easily decorated (i.e. candy) and no special pan is usually required. Also as a note - some libraries have character pans you can check out.

" Another great option that adds class to a cake is to stack multiple cake layers. Even three versus two layers can make it unique. Splitting layers in half works well (freeze first for ease in splitting and icing) when making a high multi layered cake. Baking a cake in a smaller cake pan (such as a 6" or 7" round) when layering, can keep the cake to a normal amount and more stable than larger cakes.

Add Detailed Extras - There are many small extras that can be added or done to a cake to help personalize it.

" Be creative with birthday candles. Purchase unusual candles or add them to cake in a creative way. Tall candles are fun. Look for unusual candles at gourmet food type stores or online.

" Use icing combs to make cool icing effects - my favorite come from Wilton: www.wilton.com These are very inexpensive and come in a variety of styles.

" Another great product from Wilton are pre-made icing flowers. They come in a several sizes, colors and styles. A great time-saver and simple way to dress up cakes. Also a perfect product to add to homemade cakes for those who don't have flower making skills.

" Create 3-D accents. Stickers, cut fondant shapes, jewels, trinkets, photos, etc. can be added to fabric wire wrapped wire (available at craft stores) and inserted into a cake. The items look like they are springing from the cake. (Wrap wire to a toothpick to insert into cake if worried about food safety of the wire.)

" Use floral tape to add loops of ribbon, curling ribbon, lace, tuelle, net, beads or other trims. Insert these among fresh or icing flowers for accent. A great way to add color.

" An option to writing a sentiment on a cake is to print or write it onto a card and decorate as desired. Add the card to a wood skewer and insert in cake. Do this with photos or other paper items.

" Have a bakery produce a photo or other art onto edible paper (wafer paper). Place on cake as per their instructions. Edible images called Dessert Designs from Wilton are also available in birthday (and other themes) that are on edible paper that melt into the cake leaving the design behind.

" Add fruit to cakes. Simply by piling on fruit such as raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, etc. on top of a cake can be easy and pretty. Dust with powdered sugar or drizzle with chocolate.

Tip: Remember the internet offers thousands of sites that sell products, have decorating tips and feature galleries of cakes images. Do searches under the keywords you are interested in or look under images for many ideas to follow and gain inspiration from.

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