Reader Q & A: Rose Answers Questions (plus an Elvis Cake, A Chef’s Cake and a Teacher’s Birthday Cake)

Here we go again…  Reader Q &  A!  Usually I get anywhere from two to five emails a week with readers asking various questions.    I always answer – sometimes quickly, sometimes not so quickly.    Every week or two, I will  a couple of reader questions and share the answers publicly!

Do you like this idea?  If so, leave a comment!   And if you have a question, please be in touch and it may show up in a post!

Cake details:  these three cakes were made for my aunt (a teacher), her daughter (my cousin Michelle who is a Food Specialist) and my aunt’s granddaughter (also my cousin – who loves Elvis).

Their birthdays are very close together and they were going out to eat together to celebrate so my cousin  Michelle (she works for Taste of Home magazine…whoop, whoop!) asked if I could do a cake for the three of them.  I asked if I could do 3 separate cakes to really make them personal!

The cakes were red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting (Elvis), strawberry cake (chef cake) and lemon cake with lemon frosting (teacher cake).

So here goes… the cakes and the questions/answers:

From Jessica via email… 

Q:  Which are your fav cake pans and… 

A:  My favorite cake pans are Parrish Magic Line.  I also like Fat Daddio Cake Pans but the Magic Line pans are often cheaper and I can’t tell any difference when baking!  You can see lots of my other favorite things on this post:  26 Favorite Things: A List of Cake Baking & Decorating Supplies.

Q: …how do you get your fondant shiny? 

A: To get shiny fondant, I usually rub some shortening onto a paper towel and rub it all over the surface of my cakes!  It will eventually absorb but it leaves a nice smooth look to the cake!    As a bonus, it will also fill in any tiny holes or flaws!!

I’ll give you a couple of other options that I have not tried.   There are cake decorators who steam their cakes to make them really shiny!  The thought of doing that sort of makes me nervous, but hey… if you try it let me know!   One last thing…  I remember reading over on The Sugar Lane that she sprays her cakes with butter-flavored non-stick cooking spray and it makes them super shiny and pretty!    That’s something I’d be willing to try!

From Kim O on Facebook

Q:  When I add ribbon to a cake..sometimes it gets greasy..what can I do to prevent streaks ?

A:  I have never personally put satin ribbon on a cake, I always make fondant ribbons (see how to make and put on fondant ribbon borders here).   Sooooo…  I can’t personally tell you if any of these will work, but I’ll tell you what I’ve read and you can see what you think!    Please note, since I can’t attest to any of these,  I’d suggest you do a practice-run on any/all of these techniques to see what works best for you.  And please, come back and let us know what you found!!  **Be sure to check out the comments for some great info!**

READERS… if you have any suggestions/answers for this – please leave a comment to help Kim out!!

Here are a few solutions I’ve seen most often:

  1. Use Scotch double-sided tape to attach wax or freezer paper strips to the back of the ribbon.    I’ve also read that some people actually just use packing tape and put the sticky side to the ribbon then trim the edges so that its equal to the width of the ribbon.  The only problem I see with this is packing tape is not considered a food-safe material!
  2. Iron wax paper onto the back of the ribbon.
  3. Use Press ‘N Seal on the back of the ribbon.
  4. Get the ribbon a shade lighter than you need and actually wipe down the entire ribbon, back and front, with Crisco ahead of time.  Basically you’re soaking the whole thing with the grease so no “spots” will show up.  This will probably darken the ribbon a shade or two, so that’s why you should start with a lighter shade than you need.

 From Kim M in Connecticut (she called me – click that link to see a cake she made!)…

Q:  (paraphrase – we were on the phone, so I don’t have exact wording)  Kim asked what day of the week I would start baking for a cake due on the following weekend.    

A:  Here’s my baking schedule (outline… not something I live and die by).  I usually start baking on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday for orders going out on Friday/Saturday of that week.     It really depends on how many orders I have, but here’s a general outline:

  • Monday/Tuesday:  Bake & Cool Cakes, then refrigerate (either wrapped up in plastic wrap or in air-tight containers).  If I bake on Monday, I may go ahead and freeze them once they’re cooled.    If I only have one cake, I usually wait until Wednesday (sometimes Thursday – but rarely).
  • Tuesday/Wednesday:  Fill, Frost and Freeze Cakes, wrapped in plastic wrap and then a layer of foil (or I put them back in the pans I baked them in so prevent them from being smooshed in my freezer).  To do this, I put two (same-sized) layers of cake in plastic wrap and put them in their pans, right-side up.  Then I put a cardboard cake round on top of one layer and invert one pan on top of the other, upside-down.  So I have 2 layers of cake enclosed in 2 pans… no smooshing!  Is that clear?  As mud?  Ha!
  • Also on Tuesday/Wednesday:  Make fondant/gum paste pieces that need to dry for the cake.
  • Thursday/Friday:  Move cakes from the freezer to the refrigerator and allow them to thaw.
  • Thursday/Friday:  If orders are going out on Friday, I usually begin decorating on Thursday evening.  If they’re going out on Saturday, I usually decorate on Friday.

Some people may question the freshness of a cake that’s been frozen, but I’ve never had a complaint.    I’ve even read in some cake books that freezing the cakes helps them to hold in the moisture and actually makes them better.   I’d have to agree based on my experience!!

I’d recommend Wedding Cakes You Can Make: Designing, Baking, and Decorating the Perfect Wedding Cake for some great information on doing this… it’s one of my favorite reference books.

And while I’m being honest… I was so nervous about doing my very first wedding cake for my brother that I baked it 3 weeks in advance and froze it.  I had no idea how long it would take me to bake (at the time I only had one tiny oven), make frosting, fill, decorate, etc 9 layers of cake (they had 3 tiers, with 3 layers of cake per tier), that I started waaaay ahead of time… and that cake was delicious too!  In fact, they froze the top tier and ate it on their first anniversary… still great!  I’m just saying… freezing can be your friend!

Thanks to Kim, Kim M, and Jessica for your questions this past week!  Anybody else have a question?  Or can you help answer any of these questions?

I’d love to hear from you and have your input/questions!!  Shoot me an email or leave a comment!

Oh, and do you have any questions about these cakes?  Please leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer!

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Comments

  1. Stephanie Rohrbacher says:

    Ribbons… I have used ribbons on wedding cakes many times and I think I have tried it all… Picking the ribbon type to make to make it greaseproof.. ironing a backing onto the ribbon.. but what works best is just go ahead and rub crisco all over that ribbon and wipe with a paper towel to remove excess. It does make the ribbon slightly darker than the original color, so keep that in mind when matching colors but it makes the ribbon one even color, and beautifully shiny! I am no longer worried about using ribbons on my cakes!!

  2. Ribbons… I have tried many ways to prevent grease spots from coming through, only two of which actually worked. One is to buy the type of ribbon that grease won’t affect, but most brides don’t choose that. The other, which works best for me, is to go ahead and grease that ribbon well with crisco shortening and wipe excess with paper towel before you put it on the cake. It does make the ribbon slightly darker, so keep that in mind when matching colors, but it makes the ribbon a little shiny and even colored and very beautiful!!

  3. I have made cakes using the wax paper and double sided tape and it works perfectly! make sure you use wax paper and not parchment though, because the double sided tape will not stick to the parchment! (I learned this the hard way!)

  4. I have a question… A friend had asked me to make a lemon flavoured rainbow cake. I’ve only once experimented with colouring a cake mix and it had a horrible taste (I used the liquid stuff – lesson learnt). This time round I plan on using a powder or gel, is there one you might recommend over the other? And will it compromise on taste?
    Thanks in advance!

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