Pretty Bakes Blog

Cake decorating basics for pretty cakes, cupcakes, cookies and other sweet treats

How to make an easy Frozen princess cake

While I’m taking shelter from freezing rain in Toronto tonight, let me tell you about the Frozen princess cake I made a while ago. I gotta hurry because the ice storm knocked out power in my neighbourhood and although my lights are still on, they’ve been flickering.

Kids’ toys make great cake toppers!

When you want to keep cake decorating super easy, repeat after me: Just use miniature toys and figurines. My niece Ella had a serious girl crush on Elsa and Anna so, naturally, she wanted a Frozen princess cake for her birthday.

I could spend hours trying to model fondant figures that look like the movie characters but –nuh-uh! I don’t I have enough talent or time for that.

Disney Frozen figurines

Disney Frozen figurines, purchased at Walmart
Photo by Jennifer Melo

So I bought a set of Disney Frozen toys. And they did all the hard work for this little cake decorating project.

To be fair, I made the buttercream, rolled the fondant, did some piping and I even made some sugar glass but the true heroes here are those figurines. They literally and figuratively add character to this cake.

Making sugar glass

Blue sugar glass

Blue sugar glass, cooling on a silicone baking mat
Photo by Jennifer Melo

My sugar glass didn’t turn out perfectly. I couldn’t find my candy thermometer so I had to wing it and I don’t think the mixture got quite hot enough. I was aiming for more of a translucent look but it turned out more opaque than I’d hoped for. Oh well. You try and you learn.

I boiled the sugar and water mixture, added a few drops of food colouring and poured it out, onto a silicone baking sheet. After it cooled, I broke the sugar glass into shards that look like ice formations.

Cake decorating with fondant and buttercream icing

I covered a cake board and a vanilla slab cake with blue fondant. To achieve a pure white frosting, I used clear vanilla extract and vegetable shortening instead of butter. Brown vanilla extract and butter gives your icing more of a creamy, yellow tinge.

For the top surface and border, I watered down my icing until it was a light and fluffy, cloud-like consistency. Then I spread a thick layer of icing on just the top of the cake and used a #12 and a #3 piping tip to make icicle formations.

Fluffy mounds of icing for snow Photo by Jennifer Melo

Fluffy mounds of icing for snow
Photo by Jennifer Melo

I also used the #12 tip to pipe a border of snow mounds. With a #2 piping tip, I piped a few snowflakes on the sides of the cake and added a few more icicles.

Adding the finishing touches

With a simple cake design, it was time to add the toy characters, the sugar glass shards and a fondant emblem with a personalized birthday message. Olaf does a great job at wishing the birthday girl a happy day.

Happy birthday from Olaf

Olaf’s birthday message
Photo by Jennifer Melo


I used the characters’ feet to stamp footprints into the icing. Sven, the reindeer’s footprints are my favourite. And as I placed each toy on the cake, I really smooshed them down so the icing naturally built up a nice base of “snow”. Lastly, I added a few clear sugar flakes to add a bit of sparkle and shine, just like freshly fallen snow.

And there you have it! An easy Frozen princess cake.

Easy does it with this Frozen princess cake Photo by Jennifer Melo

Easy does it with this Frozen princess cake
Photo by Jennifer Melo

The gang's all here Photo by Jennifer Melo

The gang’s all here
Photo by Jennifer Melo

How to make a fondant Precious Moments communion cake

The spring/summer season means it’s time for some of the Catholics among us to celebrate a first holy communion. So I thought I’d share how I made a fondant communion cake for my sweet niece, Maya.

The cake topper, a Precious Moments figurine, honoured the occasion and served as inspiration for this cake.

Quilting patterns are challenging

First, I’ll ‘fess up and reveal that I screwed up on the lower tier of this cake. The quilting pattern adds an elegant design but, once again, I learned that it’s a tricky cake-decorating technique to pull off right. I’m still not sure where things went wrong. Everything was going great until…it just wasn’t. Some of the lines didn’t meet at the right spots when I got around to scoring the final parts of the cake. I tried to fix things but I think I ended up doing more damage.

Cake-decorating tip: After covering a cake with fondant, score it immediately. Don’t wait. Scoring and embossing works best with fresh fondant that hasn’t yet hardened.

For the quilting pattern, I used a measuring and scoring method. Using a ruler and a toothpick, I marked the cake at 1″ spaces at the top and bottom of the sides of the cake.


Toothpick marks for your lines’ start and end points
Photo by Jennifer Melo

Then I used a cut file folder and an embossing wheel to score straight, diagonal lines across the cake’s side, connecting the holes I marked earlier with the toothpick. This is hard to explain so let me show you what I mean in this video clip.


Ya see? Easy peasy! That is, until your lines don’t meet up according to plan. What can I say? Things got a little crazy.


The other side of the cake features a multitude of sins
Photo by Jennifer Melo


Oh well, that’s why we turn the cake to look past its sins and put its best face forward. Right? Right!

Colour-washing fondant cut-out flowers

On the plus side, the cake for the top tier turned out just right. To match the finish of a Precious Moments figurine, I used a brush to lightly colour some fondant cut-out flowers with a mixture of pink food colouring and vodka. I deliberately left some of the edges uncoloured so it looks a watercolour effect on a clay-like finish. Just like the figurine.

I applied the flowers to the cake with more blooms surrounding the cake topper,  and then scattering a few outwards, for  a pretty, gradient effect.

Precious Moments cake, top tier Photo by Jennifer Melo

Precious Moments cake, top tier
Photo by Jennifer Melo

Finishing touches

I added silver balls (dragees) at intersecting points in the quilted pattern and in the centre of some of the flowers to tie the upper and lower tiers together.


Silver dragees
Photo by Jennifer Melo

I created the pearl border with a fondant mold. Just grease it with vegetable shortening, press fondant into its cavity, trim excess fondant, and then bend the mold to release a strand of fondant pearls. Attach the pearl border to the cake with gentle dabs of water.

To personalize the cake, I added a scroll and used my trusty fine-tip Wilton food-colouring marker to write “God bless Maya”. I chose brown instead of black for a soft effect. And that’s it. Communion cake done!


Precious Moments communion cake
Photo by Jennifer Melo

Happy Valentine’s Day from Pretty Bakes Blog

I hope your day is filled with sweet surprises…and chocolate. May there be chocolate. Happy Valentine’s Day!


Merry Christmas from Pretty Bakes Blog


Have a merry Minion Christmas!
Photo by John F. Kissoon.

Dear readers,

Thank you for your visits, comments and shares this year. Have a very merry Christmas and I wish you every bit of happiness in the new year.



Photography by John F. Kissoon.

How to make Christmas sugar cookies with royal icing

Sugar cookies in chocolate and vanilla. Photo by Jennifer Melo

Sugar cookies in chocolate and vanilla.
Photo by Jennifer Melo

Merry Christmas to you and yours! Why am I posting about Christmas cookies today, when it’s far too late to make these cookies in time for Christmas?

Because maybe you’ll be looking for some ideas on how to keep your favourite little kitchen helpers busy over the next week while school is out. And because, like you, I’ve fallen victim to the holiday rush and I’m sneaking in a Christmas post before this season passes.

Baking is the perfect activity for when you want to unplug from electronic devices and create something yummy. So pull out your favourite winter cookie cutters: May I suggest snowflakes, and snowmen? The Santa and ornament cookie cutters can take a break until next Christmas. 😉

What’s so great about sugar cookies?

Sugar cookies are awesome because they’re simply delicious, they’re so versatile for decorating and they keep well. Depending on your recipe, you can wrap and pack ’em up for two weeks or more and they’ll still have a nice, crunchy texture.

Preservative-free cookies with a long shelf life: It’s a beautiful thing!

White and gold Christmas cookies

Nothing beats homemade sugar cookies!  Photo by Jennifer Melo

Nothing beats homemade sugar cookies!
Photo by Jennifer Melo

I decided on a white and gold colour scheme and white icing on chocolate cookies. I had a lot of help from my friend John. His mini schnauzer Zoe, on the the other hand, wasn’t helpful at all but was an adorable onlooker.

Gimme some cookies! ~ Zoe, the mini schnauzer

Gimme some cookies! ~ Zoe, the mini schnauzer

I jokingly told friends that John made all the ugly cookies and I made all the pretty ones. Truth be told, he piped most of the prettiest ones.

In all, it took about two days to complete this baking project that yielded 75 cookies. Without help, I would’ve needed four days to finish it up. Thank you, John!

Sugar cookie and royal icing recipes

Here are the recipes I used for this year’s Christmas baking…

Something old:

Something new:

I’m happy to report that all three recipes turned out perfectly. Woop! Woop!

How to make and decorate sugar cookies

Step 1: Follow the aforementioned recipes to the letter. Yes, you must refrigerate the cookie doughs for their specified chill times. Yes, you must cover your royal icing with plastic wrap or it’ll dry out. Yes, you must achieve the right royal icing consistency or you’ll run into problems.

Step 2: Allow sufficient time for royal icing to dry. For the first layer of flood icing, drying overnight is best.

Step 3: With your royal icing at piping consistency, pipe designs onto your cookie. Allow that layer to dry for about an hour.

I highly recommend finding clip art or cookie patterns online for inspiration. You can stop here and be done or you can move on to the next step.

Unpainted sugar cookies are pretty too!  Photo by Jennifer Melo

Unpainted sugar cookies are pretty too!
Photo by Jennifer Melo

Step 4: Paint piped details/designs with a mixture of Wilton’s gold Pearl Dust™ and a few drops of vodka. Allow painted cookies to dry for an hour or more.

Painting a sugar cookie with gold pearl dust Photo by Jennifer Melo

John paints a sugar cookie with gold pearl dust
Photo by Jennifer Melo

Step. 5: Enjoy! Or if you’re sharing, wrap, pack and present.

Packing up sugar cookies Photo by Jennifer Melo

Packing up sugar cookies
Photo by Jennifer Melo

Merry Christmas Eve! Happy baking and may all your sugar cookies be pretty and tasty.