Pretty Bakes Blog

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

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.


How to make a brush embroidery birthday cake

Ever since I came across SweetAmbsCookies‘ magnificent cookie-decorating videos on YouTube, I wanted to try a brush embroidery design on a cake. So when my niece Lauren gave me free licence to surprise her with the design of her birthday cake, I took the opportunity to make a buttercream cake with floral brush embroidery.

I’ve gained more experience decorating cakes with fondant instead of buttercream so this cake took me out of my comfort zone. While I was happy with the finished look, I encountered a few challenges and gained valuable lessons along the way.

A brush embroidery cake for Lauren.  Photo by Jennifer Melo

A brush embroidery cake for Lauren.
Photo by Jennifer Melo

The trouble with thick buttercream

Most of my problems with this cake started and ended with the consistency of my white buttercream. It was too thick. I should’ve watered it down to medium-to spreading consistency but I’m not sure what went wrong. When I loaded my piping bag and squeezed a bead of icing through a #3 piping tip, I realized my icing was too thick. But I couldn’t turn back now.

Let me tell you, my friends: The strain of piping icing that’s too thick is real. Rather than a nice, smooth flow, you end up with icing that breaks without warning — rude! The effort of squeezing icing out of the bag leaves you with shaky, fatigued hands. Boo! Hiss! Piping flower outlines, “happy birthday”and a pearl border was literally a pain — oh, my aching hands!

How to do brush embroidery on a buttercream cake in 6 steps

Here’s how to keep your brush embroidery cake-decorating easy.

1. Use a flower cookie cutter to gently imprint a flower outline on your cake.

2. Using the imprint as your guide, use a #3 piping tip to pipe the outline of the flower with white buttercream.

3. Use a damp brush to pull icing from the outer edge of your flower’s outline to the center in sweeping strokes. Try to keep the outer edge of the piped outline intact. Can’t quite picture it? Watch this:

4. Pipe a tight comma and overlay it with a tight C to form a knot shape in the middle of the flower.

5. Add leaves and repeat the steps of dragging icing from the outer edges inwards.

6. Randomly add dots of icing to mimic embroidered knots.

And that’s it. Done!

In hindsight, I should’ve used royal icing instead of buttercream for piping the floral brush embroidery. Royal icing would’ve held its shape better than buttercream which seemed to droop over time.

Cake-decorating tip: Use royal icing for a brush embroidery effect.

The cake was a hit with Lauren and her guests. No one guessed I encountered buttercream consistency issues and I gained some new cake-decorating skills and experience.

Want to know how i got a smooth-ish surface on this cake? Read my last post: How to smooth a buttercream cake in 5 easy steps.