This year my daughter wanted a kitty cat themed birthday party, so I decided that I would make a cat cake. I feel that I am a pretty good cook, but only a mediocre baker. Cakes are really not my strong point. I decided I wanted my cake to look pretty good, so with only week to improve my cake building skills, I started my research. My favorite bit of info came from a site called 5 min. There were multiple videos from a master cake decorator. So Gigi and I watched each video to pick up some important tips. I also found a pattern for a cake cat made from two 8 inch rounds on the Betty Crocker site.
I decided a test cake using my new found knowledge would give me some practice. I didn't want to make a cat because it would take some of the bang out the final cake. I baked two 8 inch round cakes and quickly realized that these cakes were way too thin; they did not meet my vision of a nice thick cake. That was fine I got to practice shaving off the uneven parts (which made it even thinner) and then put the layers together. This cake ended up being a butterfly.
I bought two new 8 inch rounds that were much deeper than my other pans and decided to use two boxes of cake mix. I know, all this trouble and I am making cake from the box!? Well, I figured I had enough of a challenge on my plate without having to test cake recipes.
The new rounds worked great although they did give me a bit a muffin top, so the top side needed to be shaved off. Once I had my nice flat rounds, I used the pattern from Betty Crocker to cut out the tail, ears and head. So far so good.
The next BIG thing I learned about cake decorating, is to do a crumb coat. This is a thin layer of icing over the whole cake that seals in the crumbs. This is the best tip ever. Another tip I learned from some site, is to use Wilton Meringue Powder in your icing to help it harden just a bit. I like this addition to the crumb coat icing, which was homemade, because it gave that crumb coat extra toughness. I did have one small issue during this step. The tip of one ear broke off. I put some icing on it and "glued" it back on.
I put the cake in the refrigerator to set. Once I felt it was firm, I mixed up some more Wilton Meringue Powder in some store bought chocolate frosting, and liberally frosted the whole thing. This was going way better than I had expected. I put it in the box and chilled it overnight.
The next morning, I mixed up some pink icing. Again store bought, but white. I added some pink cake icing coloring and Wilton Meringue Powder. I piped it on, put in some gum drops, added a bit of sugar glitter and I was finished!
A lot of work went into the cake and I invested in some new tools, but I am glad I spent the time to study up and practice. Now I no longer fear making a special cake.