I recently decorated a Spot birthday cake, as in Spot the dog. Being reasonably new to cake decorating and novelty birthday cakes I am trying to make sure that I learn some lessons from every experience I have in making a novelty birthday cake and share those lessons with anyone else who may be interested in making novelty birthday cakes.
When I made this Spot birthday cake I was actually on holiday and staying with family, so rather than mess us their kitchen completely, I simply used pre-made sponge cake and did all the decorating. So here are a few of the lessons I learnt from Spot the dog!
1. Cut the shape of your cake out before you put the cake on an aluminum covered cake board – I initially put the cake on the board first then cut out my spot birthday cake shape, only to find that I cut my aluminum to pieces and needed to change it.
2. Make sure you have enough frosting to cover the cake – I found that I was running out of frosting and had to really start to skimp on the sides of the cake. Make sure you have enough – or if you need two colors of frosting, like I did then put the color in one section first and use that. I found I had heaps of blue left over but was really skimping on the yellow, so clearly had my quantities a bit messed up!
3. Get the consistency of your frosting right – I followed a recipe but that recipe resulted in the frosting being quite thick which was breaking the cake as I tried to spread it. I ended up putting in the microwave for a few seconds to soften it up but then, of course, it was too runny! So it was back to the fridge for a bit. Eventually I got it right but it was a balancing act between too thick and too thin.
4. Be careful when spreading the frosting, be slow and patient so that you don’t end up with crumbs throughout your frosting – my pre-made sponge cake was very crumbly so I really had to take it easy and be patient so as not to get crumbs throughout the frosting and not to ruin the cake!
5. Frosting the sides of the cake is a painstaking business, go slowly and take a break rather than rush it and ruin it – as I was getting near the end I was so pleased that I did start to rush a little and my quality of work was starting to suffer as a result. I had to remind myself to slow down and do it right!
6. Improvise where you need to – sometimes you just have to improvise! I was supposed to have half a red jelly bean for Spot’s mouth but used half a red smartie instead! There are heaps of other instances in making novelty birthday cakes where you can swap out and in items as you need to.
7. There’s nothing you can’t cover up with icing – there were a few times along the way in decorating the spot birthday cake where I thought I had really messed things up. But you know, I’ve really come to believe that there’s nothing you can’t hide with some frosting or icing and no one will notice what you thought was a big deal! Don’t stress, just have fun!