Monday, September 23, 2013

Happy Monday! This week starts a new series about Mini Cakes. These adorable little cakes are great for small family occasions and we are happy to give you some easy tips and tricks so you can make them too!

The question I hear the most is "You have to buy special cake pans, right?" and the answer is no, you don't. Sure, I have an adorable little mini set of cake pans that are sizes 1", 3" and 5". But you can, and I have, made a mini cake using just a round cutter and cake baked in shallow baking pan like a cookie sheet. Just bake the cake in the shallow pan and then use your round cutter to cut out the size of layer you want for your cake. Then stack them just like you would in a bigger pan. 

Mini cakes are great for small family birthday's, celebrating the new job or promotion, but I think the most common use for a mini cake is for a Baby's 1st Birthday "Smash" Cake. But they can be used for other kids birthdays as well. Make the mini cake for the Mom, Dad, kids and then serve cupcakes to your guests! 

The cake today is a white cake with vanilla buttercream filling. This happens to be my son's favorite combination so he was really happy that I started this series with HIS favorite cake! Once the cake was cooled and leveled (the dome trimmed off of it so that each layer was even and flat) I wrapped each layer well in Press & Seal wrap and popped it into the freezer overnight. 

A quick word about that. I have found that freezing cakes seals the moisture into the layers. Once I'm ready to fill them I unwrap them and, while still frozen, I fill the cake and ice it with a thin layer of frosting called a "crumbcoat". I then let the cake thaw out and "settle" over at least 3 hours to over night. As gravity starts to work, the cake will settle and will push the filling out to the sides of the cake. If you end up with a "roll" of filling sticking out you can smooth your crumbcoat again before the final coat of frosting. But this is why allowing time for settling is so important. Once you apply the crumbcoat onto the cake it will help seal in the freshness and moisture into the cake. After this step do NOT put the cake into the refrigerator. The reason is that refrigerators draw out the moisture and your icing will suck up all of the smells of the other food. It is a much better idea to put your cake out on the counter instead. After your final coating of frosting or fondant you still do not want to put your cake in the fridge because it will effect the look of the surface of your cake. It can cause "weeping" in buttercream or "blooming" on fondant. Weeping is when the butter oil separates from the sugar and cream and blooming is when moisture (condensation) forms on the surface of fondant making it shiny in some spots and dull in others. So keep your cakes and cupcakes out of the refrigerator except to put a chill on them before filling/crumbcoating and only if they are well wrapped.

Now onto the decorating. I just used a flat tip (Wilton #45) that has smooth sides on both sides. Like a basketweave tip only with smooth edges. You could do straight lines down the sides of the cake but I decided to go wavy. Once I finished piping all the way around the cake with the wavy lines I just used the same tip to make ruffled type circles, starting from the outside and working in, on the top. I finally trimmed the cake in that same manner, making the trim a bit ruffled.

I used small candy pearls for the snowflake design on the top and sides but you could use white frosting and a fine tip to do the same. But since I was making this cake for my son and he loves the candy I used the candy pearls instead. To do this I used one of the best tools I have added to my tool box in the past few tweezers. 
You can see that they resemble the ones that might be used to pluck out an eyebrow hair or splinter but they are angled which makes it much easier for the placement of candy onto the cake. Now here is the great thing...they only cost a few dollars. A wonderful mini-investment for your cake tool box.

Once the pearls were in place the cake was done! This little 5 inch cake serves 5. It is about 4-1/2 inches tall so when you cut this into five pieces you will get a 1x4.5 inch piece of cake. This is what makes mini-cakes so perfect for a family event. Just enough for after dinner.

Next week I'll bring a new mini-cake with new techniques that you can easily do at home too! In the meantime you can join us over at our Facebook Fan Site for daily tips and tricks!


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