Archive for the ‘CAKE PANS, IDEAS & TIPS’ Category

I remember baking my first character cake more than 12 years ago.

I knew before I had children that I would bake and decorate their birthday cakes, after all that’s what I grew up on and it was a tradition I wanted to pass on to my own children.
I also LOVE creating things with my hands and let’s face it I’m now 4 children in so baking and decorating cakes is sometimes the only creative free time I get 🙂

I remember marveling at the Pokemon cake I created 12 years ago for my sons 7th birthday. I cringe a little now when I look back at pictures but all in all it was pretty darn good for my first attempt at a character cake pan.
Still through multiple birthdays with 4 kids and my own business I have learned a multitude of tips and tricks which I would like to share with you to save you time, sanity and tears.

1. PREPARE YOUR OWN ICING!
Store bought “works” however it’s runny and shiny and in the end you’ll be far happier if you spend the time whipping up a batch of your own icing and getting the desired consistency to form those perfect little stars. Most “Wilton” character cake pans come with an image insert with instructions and a butter cream icing recipe, if not you can always Google it.
BONUS TIP: Icing sales coming soon to STIR CRAZY!

2. COLOR YOUR ICING AND PREPARE YOUR BAGS AHEAD OF TIME!
This is especially important for deep colors like red and black. The longer they sit the darker they turn, then when activated with the heat of your hand…presto the deep dark color you desire. The other upside to this is once you’ve baked and cooled your cake you can simply sit down when ready in a clean organized environment and get right down to the real fun of icing your cake.
BONUS TIP: If you have a small area requiring 1 color buy the “ready to use” Wilton tube instead of manually coloring and bagging it. Wilton has great color options and you can even attach Wilton tips and couplers to them. This is such a time saver especially for a cake like Dora where there are a number of small one color areas.

3. PREPARE YOUR PAN FOR BAKING!
It is very important that you prepare your pan correctly to ensure your cake does not stick to the pan. Unlike a sheet cake you can’t simply repair a missing chunk with extra icing. It is very important the cake comes out pristine with every line and feature visible. Not being able to see these details is like trying to color with no lines present. I used to do the shortening and flour method however NO MORE! Now all I use is CAKE RELEASE. You can pick up an aerosol can of Wilton Cake release at Micheals for around $5.00. Trust me this is the one product you must invest in, you’ll never bake without it again. It also comes in a rub on but I prefer the spray.
Once your cake is baked allow it to cool in the pan for 5 – 10 minutes and then flip directly onto a cake board, position, cover with foil and freeze.
BONUS TIP: Place the cake onto the cake board while it is still slightly warm. This will help it adhere better to the board and prevent slipping during decorating.

4. COOL OR FREEZE YOUR CAKE!
I used to simply cool and decorate but no longer. Not only does freezing allow you to bake in advance and save on pan rental fees but decorating a frozen cake keeps your icing cool and the harder cake surface is simply easier to decorate than a spongy one.

5. BUY SOME CAKE BOARDS!
Not only will this enhance the look of your beautifully decorated cake but the nonstick surface is great for writing on and allows for easy removal when cutting the cake. You can cover these board with foil if you feel your icing may bleed a grease ring however I find if you refrigerate the cake as soon as it’s iced no bleeding will occur and I highly recommend doing this to protect your colors from bleeding together as well.
BONUS TIP #1: For added flare trace the shape of your cake pan onto the cake board, cut out and then place you cake onto the board and freeze until ready to decorate. You can even buy colored foil if you want to fancy it up even more.

6. INVEST IN A TURNTABLE!
A turntable will allow for easy angling of your cake helping you get into those hard to reach areas without throwing out your back plus you can use it to display you cake once decorated.

7. FOLLOW THE PAN INSTRUCTIONS!
Trust me I have decorated both ways and following the instructions in number sequence will really help to ensure your cake comes out looking like the character on the insert.
BONUS TIP: Instead of the timely process of flat icing the background which is almost always step #1 skip this step and instead when the cake is done use tip #21 (or larger) to do a neat twist on the shell border. The larger volume of icing usually fills in those small background areas and really makes your cake pop!
BONUS TIP: Be sure to do your outlining first when called for and don’t be afraid to use a slightly bigger tip like #3 instead of #1. I find outlines that are slightly larger show up better after the rest of the icing is applied.

8. USE THE RIGHT TIPS AND USE THE BAG AND COUPLER SYSTEM WHENEVER POSSIBLE!
The right tips are a must especially for the finer details. Use the bag and coupler system as well. This allows you to make one bag for each color and switch the tips out as you need saving you loads of time.
BONUS TIP: I almost always use tip #18 instead of #16 when called for. I find #18’s almost always never plug up and because the star tip is slightly bigger than a #16…YOU SAVE TIME!!!

9. EMBELLISH YOUR BOARD NOT YOUR CAKE!
Want to write Happy Birthday…write it on the board not the cake. This not only looks better but you can also add other embellishments like stars, swirls and hearts.
BONUS TIP: Don’t cut down your board too much if you plan on needing room for a birthday message.

Well. I think that’s pretty much it. I will try to add to this as things come to mind.
The main lessons here are to plan ahead, use the right products and tools and have FUN!
Remember Stir Crazy rents more than 550 cake pans. We also have the Premier Rental Package which provides the tips, bags, couplers, pan, box and board. Icing sales and cake release will be added to an upgraded package soon.



  • mel strinholm: fantastic tips! who knew to freeze a cake before decorating! and letting the color in the icing sit for awhile to let it darken is great to know as we