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Pretty Bakes Blog

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

Archive of ‘Birthdays’ category

Fondant jewelry box cake

Fondant jewelry box cake

Fondant jewelry box cake. Photo by Jennifer Melo

My niece Lauren is a true girly girl. Give her clothes for her birthday and she’ll put on a fashion show for you, modelling her new outfits with a joyful spring in her step. This may or may not have happened yesterday at her birthday party. ūüėČ

Lauren loves makeup, nail polish, perfume and accessories like jewelry. When I considered a cake design for her 9th birthday, my choices were either a One Direction cake or a girly girl cake. Since a One Direction cake would probably be beyond my skill level, a girly girl cake was the way to go.

It starts with a jewelry box vision

A heart-shaped jewelry box came to mind and that’s the inspiration behind this cake. I started with the fondant jewelry box and made the rest up ¬†as I went along.¬†It evolved into girls’ trinkets on a dusty rose dresser.

My baroque fondant and gumpaste mold really came in handy for this project. I used it to make the silver rose, heart, scrolls, bracelet and white pearls.

Then I added a store-bought tiara and a candy ring pop to finish the look.

How to paint fondant silver

To paint some of the fondant silver,¬†I used Wilton’s silver pearl dust mixed with a few drops of vodka. The vodka evaporates as it dries.

For best results, I learned I should use very little vodka to just slightly dampen the fondant. And then swirl more pearl dust on to adhere it to the fondant, and buff the whole thing with a brush, using small circular motions. I found it was best to work in two coats. Brush on the vodka and dust mix and then go over it again with just the dust.

How to make dusty rose with food colouring

To tint fondant a dusty rose colour rather than bubble gum pink, use 2 parts red and 1 part brown food colouring.

What’s under all that fondant?

I tried a new Vanilla Sponge Cake recipe from Cake Art by The Culinary Institute of America and a new whipped cream icing recipe from’s Baking: From My Home to Yours¬†by Dorie Greenspan. The cake was yummy so I’ll probably make it again but it turned out too dry. Note for next time: Bake for 20-25 minutes instead of 30.

Sponge cake acts like a…sponge

The whipped cream filling was a departure from my go-to buttercream recipe. The cake absorbed much of the whipped cream icing so it didn’t look like there was much icing between the cake layers. Hmph. I wonder if that’s usual for whipped cream icing or if the dry sponge cake soaked up all that moisture.

I prefer the whipped cream icing’s flavour over buttercream ¬†— it has a milky but less sweet taste — but whipped cream icing has a downside. You can’t leave your cake unrefrigerated for too long since it’s a cream-based icing. Like butter, buttercream is more shelf-stable.

That’s enough chatter for now. You wanna see more pictures, don’t you? Cue the photo gallery!

How to make a fondant jewelry box in 10 steps

I had fun working on my niece Lauren’s birthday cake today. I’ll show you the completed cake on Sunday — I can’t give it all away and spoil the birthday girl’s surprise.

I created a fondant jewelry box for a topper so I thought I’d share how I did it.

Fondant jewelry box

Fondant jewelry box. Photo by Jennifer Melo

You’ll need:

    • Fondant
    • A Rolling pin
    • Icing sugar or cornstarch
    • 2 heart-shaped cookie cutters; 3″ and 4″.
    • Ruler
    • Pizza wheel cutter
    • Sharp knife

Fondant jewelry box how-to: Start with the base
1. Dust your workspace with icing sugar or cornstarch. Roll fondant to about 1/8″ thick.

2. Cut a heart using the 3″ cookie cutter. There’s your fondant jewelry box base. Set it aside.

Do the sides and lid
3. Dust your workspace as needed to prevent sticking. Roll fondant to about 1/4″ thick.

4. Using a ruler and pizza wheel, cut a strip that’s about 12″ long and 1 to 1-1/2″ in width.

Tip: If your fondant’s too soft or too thin, the strip will flop, bulge or fall flat. Add powdered sugar to your fondant if it needs a firmer consistency and roll it to at least 1/4″ thick so a strip can stand on its edge without falling over.

5. Cut another heart using the 4″ cookie cutter. That’s your jewelry box lid.

Assemble the jewelry box

6. Lay the jewelry box base on a piece of parchment paper. Lightly moisten the heart’s edge with water.

7. Gently fold the fondant strip in half and pinch it at the center to form a crease at the top of the heart. Place the pinched edge at the top of the heart and wrap the strip around the sides, bringing ends together at the bottom tip. Use your knife to trim the ends and then moisten and press to join them.

8. Gently hold the heart shape in place for a minute or so while the water dries. If needed, use the 3″ cookie cutter as a form to help reshape the heart while the fondant’s soft.

Assemble the jewelry box lid

9. Roll a thin tube of fondant on the counter, spaghetti-style. Using a damp brush or your finger, moisten a heart-shaped line about 1/4 from the edge of the lid. Press your tube-shaped piece on to the lid and trim to fit. Position and pinch as needed to form a heart-shaped rim for the lid.

10. Attach pretty decorations to decorate the lid if desired. Fill the box with fondant or candy jewelry and you’re done.

What do you think?

Wacky spring garden cake

Update: My niece Lauren’s birthday party is coming up this weekend so I’m busy making her cake. I’ll show you what I’m working on tomorrow but in the meantime, let’s revisit the wacky garden cake I made a couple of years ago. It’s one of my favourites. I can tell you this year’s cake won’t be¬†accented with¬†“dirt” or worms.

Spring’s arrival is a fine time to show you my niece Lauren’s wacky spring garden cake.

I wanted to get creative when I made Lauren’s birthday cake. I was inspired by flower pot cakes I saw online so a spring garden-themed cake would do nicely and I was excited to use crushed cookies for dirt.

Wacky spring garden cake

Wacky spring garden cake. Photo by Jennifer Melo

Store-bought cake accessories

I went to the dollar store in search of accessories. For some strange reason, using store-bought decorations made me feel like I was somehow cheating. But I decided that’s silly.

There’s no reason¬†everything on the cake needs to be edible and handmade, is there? I found giant felt flowers and pretty paper butterflies in the¬†scrapbooking section. I liked the idea of going big with the flowers for a more dramatic, fun and wacky effect. I also picked up the happy birthday candles which are great for folks like me who aren’t so comfortable piping letters.

When cake-decorating mistakes go right

I rolled a big piece of fondant to cover the cake and cut an 8″ rectangle in the center to leave a hole on top of the cake. I’d fill that hole with crushed cookies. Of course, when I lifted the fondant to cover the cake, that hole stretched like crazy and left the sides of the cake wide open too. Although that wasn’t my intention, I actually liked how it looked.

It was tricky to cover the sides of the cake with crushed cookies without making a big mess. I tilted the cake on its base, packed some crushed cookies into the buttercream, made a big mess, and dusted off the excess crumbs with paper towels. Gardens are messy so it’s all good.

The art of hiding imperfections

I added a white fondant fence around the cake and then piped some grass for a border. The grass looked more like leaves so I added fondant leaves here and there. Because my piping technique isn’t so good, fondant leaves were my safety net and I liked how they helped disguise any piping weirdness. The row of hedges you see at the top, right side of the cake covers a giant crack in the fondant.

My cake dome would’ve crushed the flowers and butterflies so I added those onsite while my family milled about. I was sure to keep the paper butterflies and felt flowers well out of reach of the candles’ flames and there were no incidents.

Tip: Consider flammable parts when using accessories to decorate cakes and place them strategically to avoid fire hazards. If needed, remove flammable accessories before lighting candles.

In my hurry to assemble everything, I forgot the finishing touch. Gummy worms!

gummy worm on a garden cake

I forgot to add the gummy worms! Photo by Jennifer Melo

Ladybug birthday cake

ladybug cake

Maya’s ladybug cake. Photo by Jennifer Melo

A two-tier, fondant-covered cake with fondant-modelled ladybug cake topper.

Here’s a close-up of the topper, modelled by my sister Suzy and her husband, Jav. Isn’t it adorable?

fondant ladybug cake topper

Fondant ladybug cake topper. Photo by Suzy Melo

I arrived at the party early, in time to help finish decorating the cake they made. I used cookie cutters to cut the letters and although they’re large, I think it works for a child’s cake. What do you think?

I helped Suzy roll small fondant balls to use as the border and we were done.

Monkeys and banana birthday cake

Monkeys and banana cake

Monkeys and banana cake. Photo by Jennifer Melo

My niece Aliya loves to climb — on people, on furniture, up walls. So, naturally, her nickname is “monkey.” So you can guess whose birthday cake this is.

My sister Suzy and her husband Jav made and decorated this cake and I just helped with finishing touches, like painting the banana peel and twisting rope borders. Children’s cakes are great practise for cake-decorating novices because they often look good with imperfections — the imperfect bits are a bit more wacky and fun than a perfect, polished cake.

One monkey is made with marzipan and the other is made of fondant but I can’t recall which one’s which.


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