My Cake Is A Flop....What Do I Do?

Your guests are about to arrive and you take your cake out of the over only to find that it fell or is lopsided.  You don’t have time to
bake another cake.  What do you do?  

First, stay calm, and then consider your options.  Instead of showing the guests your entire cake, cut the cake in the kitchen, put
each slice on a plate, then use your creativity to find various methods to cover the imbalance.  For example, cover each slice with
whipped cream, ice cream, or frozen yogurt.  Putting a cherry, sugar sprinkles, or even chocolate chips in the middle is additive.   

You can make your cake into “fruit” shortcake using any type of fruit you have available to put on top.  You can use your cake as a
basis for a banana split, or cover the cake with chocolate syrup.  Putting granola on top will hide the imbalance also.  Optionally,
spread cream cheese between two slices of cake in a sandwich style.

The main thing is to remember that each slice of cake will still taste good even if the entire cake looks droopy.  Your guests will
think you intended to serve the cake in whatever way you choose and they’ll never know the difference.  Be ready if someone asks
for your recipe - you have the perfect opportunity to share a laugh if you choose to tell the truth about you cake – otherwise, the flop
will be your own funny secret.
Cake Decorating Tips and Techniques

To be successful when baking cakes and pastries, learn the basics about baking.  This will ensure that baking is fun and your
cakes will be all the rage for your family or guests.  

First, the obvious, but sometimes forgotten rule:  Preheat the oven 20 to 30 minutes prior to use.  Take a shortcut by softening
butter in the microwave rather than having to remember to take it out of the refrigerator hours ahead.  Microwave at 5 second
intervals till softened, but not melted.  Always make sure the butter is unsalted for baking.  

Use quality ingredients by making sure that they are not expired.  For vanilla, use pure extract rather than imitation.

Prepare your cake pans before making the batter by coating the pan with butter and then flour.  If parchment is used, butter the pan,
add parchment paper cut to size, butter the paper, and add flour, tapping out excess.

Warm up the eggs quickly to room temperature by placing them in warm water for 10 minutes.  While mixing ingredients, start at a
low speed and mix just until smooth.  Scrape the sides and bottom of bowl often as you mix.  

There are several ways to tell if your cake is done baking.  First, test with a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake.  If it comes
out totally clean, the cake is done.  Or, if you see that the cake is starting to pull away from the sides of the pan and it is springy to
the touch, it is done.   Take the cake out of the oven, letting it rest in the pan for 10 or 15 minutes.  Then transfer to a wire rack to
cool completely.  

Always level the layers by cutting off the dome with a serrated knife.  This will ensure a beautiful, symmetrical cake every time.

Tuck strips of wax paper under your cake once you have placed it on your cake plate.  These will be removed after  frosting  to reveal
a clean cake plate.  Apply a thin coat of frosting and refrigerated for 15 minutes before applying the final, thicker layer of frosting.  
They will seal in the crumbs for a cleaner look and easier application.  

Follow these easy tips for cake baking, and your cakes will come out perfect every time.
Who Should Learn How to Bake a Cake?

In grandma’s time, only women baked.  In today’s world, both men as well as women bake
and cook.  Some of the best cooks in the world are men, but many men think baking is
“woman’s work.”  These very same men may be surprised to learn that they may need to
know how to bake and cook.When men marry, their wives may want an equal relationship
where both people share duties – including baking.  If a man finds himself as a single
parent, for his children and friends to experience homemade cakes, he would be the
person to make them – unless he always relies on others to bake them for him.  

So how do people learn how to bake?  One way to learn is by parents teaching both their
male and female children.  If dad doesn’t know how to bake, he can attend mom’s cooking
lessons along with his children.  In some families, dad may be giving mom and the
children baking lessons!

What are the advantages of the entire family knowing how to bake and cook?  Family
members can help each other with cooking duties, the family can enjoy baking together,
and family members can surprise each other with cakes they make for special occasions
rather than relying on one person (typically mom) to bake all the cakes for the family.  
Moreover, both male and female children can contribute their cooking abilities to their future
marriages and relationships.  

Mom, dad, brother and sister, can all learn to bake and cook well.  Just think, the family
motto could be:  The family that bakes together eats cakes together.  What a unique and
delicious thought!
The Place For Cakes
Think about the person that you are making the cake for and what they really like.   Figure
out what fantasy your child has and let them be an active participant in designing their
special cake.  Do they want to be the princess in the tower, the prince guarding his castle, a
pirate sailing the high seas on a ship, or Robin Hood roaming through Sherwood Forest?  

If you are preparing a cake for an adult, consider the theme of the event.  Is it a birthday
celebration for someone who works for John Deere, a fan of a special sports team, or a
western music enthusiast.  Are you planning a Christmas celebration or Easter party?  
Also, be creative with flavors such as lemon, coconut, chocolate.  Add preserves, butter
cream frostings or cream cheese fillings between layers for an extra special cake.

It does not matter what theme you have chosen.  You are only limited by your own
imagination and creativity.  Look through magazines, search the internet, and borrow cake
decorating books from the library to get more ideas.  

Regardless of the theme you select for decorating the cake, it will be the highlight of the
party.  You will get to step back and accept all of the compliments from your guests
knowing that they not only enjoyed looking at your creation, but in eating it too.
Easy and Simple Cake Decorating Ideas

Making and decorating a special cake is not as difficult as it looks.  If you have ever gazed through the bakery glass as someone
is swiftly adding flowers or edging to a cake, you can be quickly intimidated, thinking that you would never be able to decorate a
cake as well as they do.  Well, you are wrong.  It is much easier to decorate a cake than you think.

Start with a cake pan in the shape of a cartoon character.  You can follow the lines on the cake to separate your different colors of
icing.  These cakes are completed using icing to create hundreds of little stars on the surface.

Consider making a cut out cake.  You follow a pattern and cut cake into different shapes and connect them together using icing.  
One very easy cake to do is the Teddy Bear—you make one 8-inch round cake and 4 cup cakes.  Think of the face of a clock and
put a cup cake at 10:30 and 1:30 (for the ears) and the other two at 5 and 7 for the paws.  Sounds simple, and it is!  Just add icing
and a few facial features and you are done.

Another quick idea is to purchase a stencil in a special shape.  You can easily decorate the top of your cake with regular icing—
then place the stencil onto the top of the cake and sprinkle on your favorite topping.  Carefully remove the stencil and you have a
special design everyone will love....and it's so simple!
Cake Decorating Methods

There is always something new to learn when it comes to cake decorating methods.  It is always amazing to take a class or to
talk to other people to find out what is new.

The ability to decorate a cake is a step by step process.  You need to do each step before moving on to another.  Skipping a step
can result in a cake that while edible, it is not beautiful and worth the time you put into decorating it.

One of the most important steps is to first let you cake ‘fully’ cool.  Do not rush this process as your icing will slide off a cake that
was even a little bit warm.  Once the cake is cool, take a pastry brush and carefully brush off all the little crumbs and then add a
base coat of icing or a flavored jelly.  This base coat helps seal in any leftover crumbs that might show through your icing and can
add a distinctive flavor.  You may want to put the cake in the refrigerator for a few minutes to help "set " the icing.

You can begin putting the rest of your icing on your cake after the base coat has dried.  Using a large offset spatula, place a
generous amount of frosting on the cake top and spread it across the top, pushing the excess down over the edges and onto the
sides.  Then, add icing to the sides and finish off with the smooth edge of the spatula.  

The cake has been icing, but it still a plain cake.  Consider adding wording to the top and a rippled edging along the base of the
cake and along the top edge.  The more you practice, the better you will get at decorating.  Keep practicing and you will be
amazed at the results.

Cake Decorating Ideas

Themes for Cake Decorating
Need cake decorating ideas?  There are literally hundreds of different themes that you can do
when decorating a cake (birthday, baby shower, western, John Deere, Christmas, golf, kids,
etc).  Your specially designed
theme cake will always be the star at birthday parties, wedding
receptions and other special events.  Where do you start when planning a special cake?  The
answer is simple—everywhere.  Just look around you and look at the array of different colors
and textures in the world.  All of these can be incorporated into the theme of a cake.
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Cake Decorating Themes
...your resource for learning
about cake baking and decorating.