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Baby Girl Baby Shower Cake with Fondant Flowers

Two weeks ago I shared the cake I made for my sister’s bridal shower.  As the saying goes, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Mommy with the baby carriage.

Sure enough, about a year later I got to make a baby shower cake for my first niece*!

This post isn’t going to be a full walkthrough, but rather a look at the process for designing and making a baby shower cake. As explained in my “how to bake a cake” post, it’s important to do as much prep as you can in advance. Not only do cakes need time to cool fully before you start to decorate, but some decor pieces need time to dry or set up.

My cakes always start with a sketch and some research. In this case I knew the number of people it would be serving, and that it was for a baby girl, but the rest was up to me. I decided on a layered cake with some kind of topper, and after looking at sample cakes online I vetoed a crib in favor of a baby on top of the cake.

I always make an Excel file with inspiration samples. The goal is not to straight copy anything you find, but to have a sense of what’s possible. At the time I didn’t yet have a baby mold so since I’d be hand-sculpting I collected an assortment of toppers that looked like something I could do.

I’d enjoyed texturing the fondant into ribbons for Laura’s bridal shower cake and so to tie the two cakes together I chose to make a sort of flower shape by flanging out the edges of pre-cut circles. The only thing I had to decide was if I’d color the edges or the centers of the flowers. I also had to make the fondant topper so it would have time to solidify before setting atop the cake.

The baby shower was on a Saturday and I still had residual exhaustion from finishing her last cake at 5am the morning of her party, so I got started early – on Wednesday.

I always like to assemble my supplies before I start. There’s a tub of white fondant, fondant shaping tools, my organized container of tools, paintbrushes and edible markers, my collection of gel colors, water, mini vodka bottles (for fondant painting), paper towels for blotting, and most importantly – the cake tin I’d be using for the top tier (so I could scale my topper appropriately. Plus my iPad for both inspiration and entertainment while working.

To make the flowers I used my fondant roller and silicone mat to roll out some fondant to about 2mm thick. I used a 1.5″ circle cutter to cut out 3 circles for each flower sample and flared out the edges by rolling over them with a ball tool on a foam mat. Using a food-only paintbrush and some pink edible color dust, I brushed the center of 3 of the disks and the edges of the other 3, and then loosely squished each circle with my fingers and pressed them together. I much preferred the pink-center version, so now I was able to make a proper sketch and decide on my topper (as I still wasn’t sure if I wanted a seated figure or the laying-down-with-blanket style.

A sketch really helps to visualize your plans. Once I saw how busy the cake would look with the lower tier covered in flowers I decided the blanket baby would be too much.

Next was to make the baby. In my research I found that the creator of the first baby in my inspo pic had a full YouTube tutorial available. Don’t shy away from tutorials, that’s what they’re there for! I keep up this blog specifically so my tutorials can help others, and to share what I’ve found. Here is the designer’s website with instructions on making the baby boy, and the video I followed for the baby girl:

How could I not recommend it? Look how cute it turned out!

Seriously, I love her!! My only mistake was in laying the head down while I worked on the body. Unfortunately it flattened out and I didn’t want to mess up the face by trying to round it out again. So my figure looks great from the front but her head is clearly a little squished from a side view – oops! I’d recommend perhaps laying the head in a bowl of icing sugar, flour or corn starch to hold it without applying pressure to any of the sides.

On the Thursday night I baked 2 cakes, and prepped them to cool as per my post linked above. Then Friday night was for putting it all together.

First I covered each tier in fondant – white for the flower base and a pink matching the baby diaper for the upper tier.

Knowing how heavy the solid-fondant baby figure was, I inserted a wide straw (ones for slushies are perfect) and cut it to be flush with the top tier. This would provide support and hold the weight of the figure so the cakes wouldn’t compress.

Next was to make more flowers. As for my sample, I rolled out a workable section of fondant, cut a bunch of circles, added some color to the center then squished the sides in. Be careful to not roll out more than you can handle at a time, so they don’t harden before you can flare the edges and squish them into shape. The flowers were applied to the cake with a bit of water on the cake and the adjacent petals. If necessary hold into place for a few seconds until it stays. Cover the entire base.

Remember to look at your cake from different angles. I hadn’t – I remained seated the entire time – and so I didn’t realize until I was looking at it later from above that there was a gap along the edge of the top cake where you could see the unfinished edge. Had I noticed in time I’d have pushed the top edge of petals up higher to fully encircle the top tier.

I had a few extra flowers in the end so I placed them around the baby figure, though that’s completely optional.

And there’s the finished cake! I absolutely love how it turned out. The flowers/petals give a great visual payoff that belies how EASY they are to make. Looks great and easy to customize with your choice of colors – I highly recommend!

And just as for her bridal shower cake, here’s a bonus pic of the mom-to-be with her baby shower cake. ❤

*whose arrival was followed immediately after – as in, less than 24 hours later!! – by my second niece! ❤

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Same-Size Fondant Balls Trick

It’s National Cake Decorating Day today so I’ve decided to share a project from my personal archives along with a tip to help you level up your cake decorating skills.

A few years ago I made this baby shower cake for one of my sister’s friends.

I didn’t take too many progress pictures so I can’t share a visual step-by-step, but the process is pretty similar for most of my cakes. A few days before the event I bake the cake(s) and then wrap them in saran while still warm to trap in the moisture while they cool down.

I’ve already shared a full post breaking down every step of baking a cake and getting it ready to decorate, and I followed the same steps for this cake except I covered the layers with fondant instead of icing.

The step that took the longest with this cake was to create the fondant topper. The dad-to-be is a hockey player so I was asked if I could create a baby ice skate for the top. It’s fully fondant except for the lace, and I made it about a week in advance so it would have plenty of time to dry out and harden before the party. I wanted the skate on a long skewer to make it easy to slide securely into the cake after delivery so I put the skate and blade together while soft so I could slide the skewer in and make sure the holes were lined up, but then I took them apart to dry separately. I didn’t want the weight of the skate to distort the blade before it was fully set up.

When there is going to be a lot of weight on a cake it’s important to have enough support in the lower layers so the cake doesn’t sag. First I covered the lower layer in a base of baby blue and then I broke a dowel into 5 pieces to create a support to hold the weight of the upper tier. I didn’t want to take a chance on any splinters getting into the cake so there’s a cut length of straw around each dowel. I also made a note for the recipient letting them know how many supports there were so there would be no chance of a guest receiving more than they bargained for on their plate.

I don’t have progress pics of the decoration itself but it’s fairly simple – the base tier was covered in strips of fondant in various shades of blue and white and then topped with a disk of gray on top to clean up the edges and hide the supports. The top tier was covered with white fondant and then fondant circles of blues and gray in assorted sizes. To get the smaller circles I used an assortment of cookie cutters as well as straws of varying thicknesses.

This is where the tip comes in! When creating a fondant pearl border for the cakes the easiest way to make sure you get all your balls the same size is to use a cutter to cut out identical pieces of fondant before rolling. You can use a straw for really small pearls or a cookie cutter like I did to get larger ones, or any size in between! It’s super fast and easy and eliminates the guesswork of judging how large a piece of fondant you’ll need to roll. You can use the same tip for clay work as well!

As you can see with my pearls, there’s still a tiny bit of variance. This is because I didn’t roll my fondant to the same thickness each time. I’d advise using guide rings on your fondant roller to get the same thickness every time.

I added 2 more circles of blue on top to give a contrast for the skate, and then the cake was ready for pick-up.

My box wasn’t tall enough for the cake so I used 2 skewers to hold the lid in place, and set the skate in a bed of paper towel in the plastic container from a package of strawberries. The holes in the plastic were perfect to slip the skewer that was inserted in the skate through.

Here’s the finished cake. I’m really pleased with how it turned out!

I also really love this image I was sent of the cake in place among the other desserts at the shower. ♥

Here’s an easy-to-pin reference image for those who don’t already follow me on Pinterest. 🙂

Hopefully this little trick will help out the next time you’ve got to make a whole bunch of identically-sized fondant (or clay) balls!

Note: Today is also World Mental Health Day. This year’s Mental Health campaign is focused on showcasing the efforts various countries have made to bring mental health care to their populations, especially during the pandemic. For more information about the campaign, please click here, and if you’d like to donate to the World Federation for Mental Health you can do so here.

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Bowling Cookies

It’s National Homemade Cookie Day in the USA today, and even though I live in Canada, who could say no to cookies? They’re tasty, versatile, and in these mid-pandemic days, a great way to provide individual portions per person.

Here’s an easy way to make a set of fun bowling cookies that you could even bowl with!*

I made these a few years ago for Father’s Day, as bowling has been a family sport since I was a kid. My dad was on a league through until Covid, and most of my siblings and I were on leagues at various times as well.

Back in the blogging heyday I used to follow a handful of cookie decorators (Sweetopia, The Bearfoot Baker and SweetSugarBelle were 3 favorites) and a big lesson I learned was how to use cookie cutters in creative ways. After deciding on “bowling cookies” I went through my bin of cookie cutters and pulled out 3 that would be perfect for this project.

The square cutter is from a nesting set similar to this one. Using it to create the lanes, choose the size that works best to fit as a multiple on the serving tray you plan to use. Rectangles would also work just fine. In my case I used the roughly 2″ square. The circle cutter is from a set similar to these. Used for the bowling balls, choose a size that looks appropriate on your size lanes. Mine is roughly 1″ in diameter. As for the bowling pin, this is where you have an opportunity to be creative! They do make actual bowling-themed cookie cutters, but I don’t have any so I used a Christmas bulb from a set similar to this one.

Step 1: Bake your cookies. You can use your preferred recipe of choice; I used my standard sugar cookie recipe adapted to taste years ago from this old Martha Stewart recipe. You want to avoid your cookies spreading while baking so be sure to chill your dough (before cutting works but after cutting is even better). Make enough squares (or rectangles) to fill the shape of your bowling lanes, plus a few extra to account for breakage. Bowling uses 10 pins so you’ll need to make at least that many, plus again extra to account for breakage. Finally, use the rest of your dough to make as many round cookies as you’d like. You really only need one to be the bowling ball, but I was serving a crowd so I made as many as I could with the dough that remained.

Step 2: Fondant toppers. If you prefer royal icing you could certainly line and flood the cookies and decorate them that way, but I find fondant a quick and easy way to get them done faster. Another example of this technique is here, where I used fondant to turn round cookies into records for a music-themed set.

Roll out white, ivory or cream fondant and use the same square and pin/bulb/etc cutter that you used for the cookies to cut a topper for each one. Moisten the back of the fondant (or the top of the cookie) with a bit of water and press the fondant into place, one topper on each cookie.

The bowling balls are a great place to use up leftover scraps of fondant. Roll out some black fondant then tear little pieces of your other colors and place them randomly on the black. Then roll over it some more to blend out the colors. Once you have it looking the way you like, use the same circle cutter to cut out enough toppers and place them on the ball cookies in the same way as above.

Step 3: Turn your base cookies into lanes. Start by using a yellow, orange or brown edible marker and a straight edge to draw stripes down your lanes to represent the individual planks of wood. I used a yellow Wilton FoodWriter and the edge of my transparent cutting mat. I generally prefer these AmeriColor edible markers so I tend to save them for when I’ll be needing to draw details because the Foodwriters are more broad-tipped.

Step 4: Wood grain, part 1. Using a paintbrush that’s ONLY ever used for food, dip it into a pot of brown icing gel color and blot onto a paper towel to get most of the globs of gel color off. Cheap plastic paintbrushes like what come in childrens’ art kits are perfect for this, but it’s super important that the brushes are reserved strictly for food use. Don’t worry about the messy bristles- the messier the better for this technique! Splotch the brown gel color directly onto the fondant cookie toppers. Try to pounce in a direction in line with the stripes you’d drawn so your wood grain goes in the proper direction. Repeat until you’ve done one full vertical row. In theory you could repeat this process on all the cookies and then move on to the next step, but I didn’t want to take a chance on the gel drying too much to reactivate so to be safe I did one strip at a time.

Step 5: Wood grain, part 2. Dip the same scrappy paintbrush into water and then brush lightly over the cookie to reactivate the brown tint and spread it across the fondant. Ensure to always brush in a vertical direction to create a faux woodgrain texture. Make sure to thin down the color just enough so that the stripes you’d painted earlier just barely show through.

Once you’ve completed the entire vertical stripe, repeat steps 4 and 5 on the remaining stripes of cookies.

Here’s the final look.

If you’re a longtime follower of this blog you’ll remember I’ve used this technique before, to make the hot tub for the Betty Boop cake for my mom’s birthday.

Step 6: Marker details. Use a red edible marker to add the characteristic stripes on the bowling pins…

…a black marker to add three dots to represent holes on the bowling balls…

…and the red marker again to add the triangular lane markers onto the lanes.

And that’s it! Assemble your pins into place at the top of the lanes and your set of bowling cookies is complete! I added a quick fondant ribbon sign to mark the occasion but that’s completely optional.

*Can bowl with them: If you take “bowl” to mean “stand up the pin cookies and flick a ball cookie at them, hoping to not get caught on the lip of one of the lane cookies”

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Elmo Birthday Cake

I interrupt my run of Pitfall-themed posts because today is a very special day!  Do you know what today is?  It’s Elmo’s birthday!  Once again the red-furred baby monster has turned 3.5 years old, and in honor of the occasion, I’m sharing a cake that I made waaaaaaay back in 2012.  That’s not near to now, that was faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar away!

(Sorry.  Wrong muppet.  *coughs*).

elmo cake square

Back in 2012 I made this cake for my cousin’s son’s 2nd birthday.  I honestly don’t remember if it was a chocolate or vanilla cake, but it clearly had vanilla icing (lol).

elmo cake 01

I made the face from fondant using a sewing pin image-transfer method (tutorial coming soon) and made fondant letters for his name, too.elmo cake 02

The sides were decorated with colorful Smarties  (that’s like M&Ms to you American folk, not the candy Smarties which we call Rockets here).elmo cake collage

Happy birthday Elmo!

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betty boop cake

Remember back in October I showed a pic of my mom’s birthday cake?  And said how I would post more on it later?  It’s later!

bettyboopcake

(Today was actually a pretty fun and busy day.  I stayed home while Yannick took the kids to swimming, and started cooking the food/making dip/etc for Henri’s 3rd bday party tonight.  Once again I only used my camera, not cell phone camera, and don’t have it handy or the pics uploaded.  At least this post is about another birthday, and another sweet treat.)

This is the cake my sister Laura and I made for Mom’s 60th birthday.

I made the cake part, then Laura helped to decorate.  First I baked 2 (9″?) round cakes, both vanilla but one tinted red.  I wanted them a bit more dense than a regular box mix, so while I did use Betty Crocker mixes, I doctored them with less oil and added instant pudding mix.  That was on the Thursday before the party (Sunday).  On Friday I made a batch of buttercream, leveled the cakes, torted them (sliced them in half widthwise) and iced in between, stacking them, from the bottom up, red, icing, white, icing, red, icing, white.  I wanted a white layer as the top so none of the red would show or seep through the top layer of icing, just in case.  I then gave a quick crumb-coat over the whole cake.

I had more time that afternoon, so I started decorating.  First I took some of my leftover icing and tinted it a pale blue, then set it aside.  I rolled out white fondant until I had it almost long enough to go around the cake.  It took me 2 strips to go around the width, but I made the seams look like seams in the wood, so you can’t tell.

I dabbed the back of the fondant lightly with a q-tip in water, and pressed onto the sides of the cake, smoothing well to remove any air bubbles.  I put the cake in the fridge for a bit to set up.

Once the icing had crusted over I went back over it with the blue icing, mixing the two with my knife as I went, and chopping it up a bit so it looked frothy and bubbly.  Then I sat down to do the wood grain.

First I went around the cake, using a sharp knife to score the fondant lightly to look like the individual wood slats.  I went around the top edge and made little cuts as if the wood was weathered and beat up.  I went around the cake again with a black edible ink marker, randomly making little lines and drawing knots in the wood.   Then I used a food-only paintbrush, some water, and some brown icing gel and covered the sides and top completely.  First I’d use almost a 100% concentration of gel to go over the score marks, then I’d blend it out with the water, and some gel-tinted water.  I made sure to have it darker in some areas, lighter in others, and tried to make it look old and used.  The way the water reacts with the fondant leaves it glossy, so it looked like it has been shellacked.

 

Two black fondant “bars” with silver “nails” finished up the hot tub, and then I used some green icing in a squeeze bottle-thing to individually pipe each and every blade of grass to decorate my dollar-store platter.

Laura came over late that night once she got home from work, and she made Betty Boop’s head while I made the legs, arms and accessories.

The bikini and flip-flops were planned, but the boobs were a last-minute addition ‘cus she didn’t look properly “settled” in the tub without them.  🙂

And that was Mom’s cake.  We had made it secretly and Yannick delivered it to the brunch her friends were throwing, and she had no idea it would be there.  I heard it was a big surprise, and a big hit.  They were almost against cutting into it, but they did, and they ate it, and even saved me a nice, tall slice.