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The Sweetest Ingredient

Submitted by: mom2girls on May 15, 2011
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The Sweetest Ingredient


Almost two years ago, I suffered a miscarriage. An important part of my healing in the months following that very saddening loss was taking a series of cake decorating classes. It was a wonderful opportunity to get out and meet new people and take my mind …




Almost two years ago, I suffered a miscarriage. An important part of my healing in the months following that very saddening loss was taking a series of cake decorating classes. It was a wonderful opportunity to get out and meet new people and take my mind off of my grief. But more than that, in a very profound way, it permitted me to experience the joy of giving life to something, even if it was just spun out of icings and frostings.

Since then, I have had the chance to make a number of birthday and wedding cakes. While people sometimes encourage me to go into business, I hesitate. For me, it’s about being able to share with my family and friends; that they can eat with their eyes (and their sweet teeth!) something that comes from the center of my heart, where love can come out of my deepest pain. And each time, my journey towards wholeness continues.

That’s my story with cake decorating, but it is a very accessible skill that anyone can develop. There really are no rules. A class will teach you more precision icing or gum paste flower techniques, but creativity is really the only requirement to have a lot of fun and make something you can share with your loved ones for any celebration!

For example, my daughter just had her fourth birthday. She loves the game Candyland, so I decided to do Candyland-themed cupcakes using my cupcake tree. It was easy to find a lot of Candyland cake ideas, but not so much with cupcakes. I kind of borrowed from a bunch of different things I saw online, adapted them for cupcakes, and then used a cake board taped to the top of my cupcake tree to make the Candyland ‘castle’. It was a lot of fun to go to the bulk food store with my daughter and let her pick out her favorite candies. I think we ended up with three times the amount of candy we needed!

There are absolutely no rules with this, but this is what I used:

  • A batch of cupcakes baked in silver foil liners.
  • A batch of vanilla frosting–some dyed green, some dyed pink, and a very little bit left white.
  • A small amount of chocolate frosting
  • One big bag of Starburst candies
  • Assorted gumdrops and candies
  • A few mini-peanut butter cups
  • A mini-gumball machine
  • 3 sugar cones
  • 3 lollipops
  • Sprinkles
  • A bag of cotton candy

This is a great project for a novice cake decorator because it requires very little in the way of cake decorating supplies or tools. You really only need a medium sized round tip and/or a star tip if you want to get fancy with your ‘mini-cupcakes’, otherwise just a round tip is fine.

For the two tiers of cupcakes, I did mostly cupcakes with three Starbursts on them to mimic the path on the board game, along with writing ‘Start’ in icing on one of them. I interspersed others with just one type of candy on them (you could totally individualize this to make one for each family member based on their favorite goodies).

For the castle on top, I affixed cotton candy by sticking it to a piping gel (basically corn syrup, you could use that) brushed cake board. You pretty much have to do this right before serving, as I learned the cotton candy deflates pretty quickly. Then all you have to do is arrange the cupcakes and sugar cones how you like. You could use mini-cupcakes or like I did, pipe frosting on top of mini-peanut butter cups to look like little cupcakes. I also learned that the best way to stick a lollipop into an inverted cone is to first poke a hole in the top carefully with a metal skewer.

So be brave and jump in! There are all kinds of ideas out there- you can do it yourself and make a beautifully customized special occasion surprise for those dear to you and for a fraction of the cost of a grocery store cake. And most of all, it will be crafted with that sweetest of all ingredients, love.

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7 comments | RSS feed for comments of this post

  1. 5-15

    So sorry to hear why you started cake decorating, but you’ve really done a great job! That is just wonderful–truly art!

  2. 5-15

    Well done! Looks spectacular, with some very useful tips as well.

    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  3. 5-15

    You have turned your loss into a source of great joy that can be shared and that’s amazing. Wonderful and imaginative! My gkids are both under 16 months but you can be SURE I’ll remember that this post is here to refer back to in the future!


  4. 5-15

    That looks like a four-year-old’s dream cake!

  5. 5-15

    As grandma to this 4 yr old, I watched as she would ask for a piece of candy off of this sweet delight. About every hour, or so, she would look at it longingly, and ask for a candy.After a couple of days, Mom had to dismantle it and put the candy away. Out of sight, out of mind!

  6. 5-16

    That is one fun cake. I appreciate how you provided all details and instruction on how to decorate the cake–it’s really cute! Good job.

  7. 5-20

    Those are so pretty!

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