Every year I try to make the kids’ cakes myself and every year it is a huge flop. I always spend a ton of money and wind up wishing I had just spent $20 at the grocery store for a custom cake. Seriously, it’s $20. Why do I even bother anymore?
I’m not sure, but here’s what I have learned. This year I made this lemon cake with lemon buttercream icing. It was perfectly dense for decorating and delicious to boot.
Bake the cake a day ahead. I only recently learned this one, but icing a completely cooled and settled cake was a zillion times easier than trying to get a warm cake properly decorated.
The flatter, the better. It is a LOT easier to ice a cake that is level. This might mean you have to trim the sides and top, but that is OK. They even sell cake levelers now - basically a small saw that lets you get an even height.
Chill down your frosting. Everything was much easier after the frosting spent a couple of hours in the fridge. It spread much easier, and held its shape. I stumbled on this trick by accident, but now I know.
Use props. There is no way I could make a Rice Krispies dinosaur look this good. So instead, I used a couple of dollar store figurines and they really made the cake look amazing. My boy was so pleased, and he got a few bonus dinosaurs for his collection.