Cake. The highlight of a celebration, the centre piece, the main event but also quite often the biggest cause of stress and frustration.
I have a long standing habit of placing pressure on myself about things that noone else particularly cares about. It’s a personality trait I have come to live with and thankfully, over time, moulded and make more manageable, in the most part.
I’ve pretty much always made Nancy and Eula’s birthday cakes, but haven’t always found it came easily to me. I’d have an idea in my mind, a concept, but the execution usually fell a bit short. The girls didn’t care and were always over the moon with what ever I produced, but still, for someone who is very visual, it frustrated me.
Let’s go back in time and have a look at some of my earlier cake creations shall we! It’s ok, you’re allowed to chuckle.
Let’s start really low shall we? Here we have Eula’s 1st birthday cake. The anemic pink icing is covering a very very burnt cake. I knew it was pretty bad, but it was only after serving it to a room full of friends that I realised quite how bad, basically inedible. See the beautiful glitter number 1? Yeah, that’s not edible glitter people. I had to scrape it off before serving, what was I thinking?!
This cake makes me laugh, it was absolutely delicious, brownie sponge, Biscoff spread + fresh cream filling, Nutella icing. Divine. But I’m just not sure which part of the decoration says man’s 40th birthday?! I obviously had an idea and wanted to try it out and wasn’t really bothered about it’s context! This is a good comparison for later though. I drew these animals + cut them out and my lack of drawing ability shines through. I learn how to get around this a little later on..
It was around this point, I think possibly Nancy’s 5th birthday, that I realised something. By now I’m quite good at making the cake, but making the decorations wasn’t my strong point. But fresh flowers always look good. Once again this cake is my Beetroot Brownie recipe and is so delicious.
I seem to be finding my stride here, my formula is simple, take pretty things that are already made, like this London Sparkle cake topper and once again add in fresh beautiful flowers.
I was so proud of this cake for Eula’s 5th Birthday. But honestly, the decoration of it was so easy. The mini Meringues were from the CoOp, the laser cut fairies I had in our craft drawer (try Hobbycraft for similar), fresh flowers from the garden and the edible gold leaf was me just trying to be extra fancy (bought on Ebay), definitely an upgrade from the glitter on her 1st cake!!
So this leads me to present day. I’ve taken what I’ve learnt and run with it. I use other people’s skill to bring my own ideas to life, not necessarily by paying someone to make/ decorate the cake, but by finding beautiful things to add on.
I have a few cake rules too, I don’t take very specific requests and I don’t do shaped cakes. I do wonder if my children will one day be sad that they never got a Chocolate Finger Fort cake, or a Colin the Caterpillar, but I don’t think they’re doing too badly!
For Nancy’s birthday this year I knew exactly what I wanted to do, I had seen these beautiful Merrilee Liddiard Animal + Scenery printables and just knew they would make the most wonderful cake toppers.
You can turn any printed image into a cake topper, so the possibilities are quite endless.
If your images are quite tall, be sure to give them a long stick, to keep them securely in the cake. You don’t want a toppling scene when you’re half way across the room, singing out of tune with an audience!
I’d just like to add at this point that my Chocolate Ganache didn’t set enough and I’d run out of time to heat it back up + add more Chocolate (that’s how simple the fix would have been) so I just went with it.
On the one hand, it’s a shame, because I was so pleased with how this cake turned out except for this one, quite obvious detail. But on the other hand, what does it really matter? It still tasted great and Nancy was so thrilled with it.
I wasn’t expecting the magic of the pink light reflections, once the candles were lit. I’d like to say that was a planned extra detail, but really it was pure luck. Who knew brown chocolate could throw back such a pretty colour!
I didn’t have a cake stand the right size this time, my Rustic Cake Dish, my usual go to, seen here as part of the table centre piece, was too big.
So instead I used an upturned bowl, a few strips of double sided tape (to stop any unfortunate wobbles) and an upturned plate to make my own. Had the pink reflections on the cake toppers been intentional, then I could have talked about how I wanted to reflect that at the base, but that would just be a lie! A happy and beautiful coincidence.
Here are a few past simple cakes decorations.
Absolutely loved this one, as did Eula. For the first time ever I got someone to make the cake, as I was so busy with work and needed to relinquish some stress. Thank you to the lovely Work by Ali for this number.
The decoration was laughably simple, 3 Moomin cutouts and some upturned Rosemary to make trees, but the result was so good, even if I do say so myself!
I simply warmed the base of the candles with the lit match and stuck to the board. Candles don’t always have to go in/on the cake itself.
Fresh Cosmos and Anenomes helped this cake turn into a celebration of our garden. Delicate flowers like the Cosmos will start to wilt after a short while, but you’ll have long enough to decorate, photograph and pop in the middle of the table to been seen and admired.
Scabious on the other hand, one of my most favourite flowers to grow in the garden, will stay pert and happy a good while longer.
Once again I’ve used Rosemary too, along with some Anenomes.
Candles can help add the extra drama needed for going for making things special and I’m a firm believer that candle adorned cakes should not just be saved for big occasions. Sometimes it’s just the pickme up needed after school, or on a dark, dingey cold Sunday.
These handmade Beeswax Celebration Candles from my shop are so simple and lovely.
So there you have it, cake decorating the simple but very effective way. I hope perhaps this has given you a little confidence boost and some inspiration for the future. As I said before, with printouts, the possibilities are endless and flowers are always beautiful.
Note – Please be aware that many flowers are not edible. Some I have used purely for decoration and these are not to be consumed.
Please also be respectful of the ownership of images you find online. There are lots of free images available to download, but it’s also great to support small independent artists and businesses by paying a few £ and downloading their wonderful work. Etsy is a great place to look.