I found a tutorial for a DIY petal cake on The Cake Blog a few weeks ago and decided St. Patty’s day would be the PERFECT opportunity to test it out. You have no idea how many times I’ve had to hold myself back from trying this out ahead of schedule. I’ve been waiting impatiently for this week to come. It’s finally here! Of course, petals weren’t enough for me. I wanted to get even fancier with it and take my very first stab at a cake with different color layers. Oooooo. Aaaaaaah.
Alright. So, let’s do this! First things first: mix some cake batter. I’ve made a cake from scratch once and I’d like to avoid doing it again if I can help it. Boxed cake batter can taste just as good with a few tweaks, in my opinion. For this cake, I used Betty Crocker Super Moist White Cake Mix. Here are a few tips to improve the flavor of this particular box of cake mix:
- Instead of oil, use unsalted butter
- Instead of water, use whole fat milk
- Add a teaspoon or two of pure vanilla extract (if you want the cake to be super white, use clear vanilla extract)
If you follow my blog, you know I’m a healthy eater. Those recipe swaps above aren’t so healthy, but dude … you’re making a cake. Everything in moderation, right?
So now you’ve got cake batter. I wanted to make a layered cake so I split the cake batter in half and added a few drops of green food coloring to one to make green cake batter.
Mini-cakes are so adorable to me. Every time I see a mini-cake I want to buy one because they’re so damn cute! So I decided to make a 6-inch mini cake. Only having one 6-inch cake pan reaaaaaally slows things down, but I’m cheap and I couldn’t find a good reason to shell out cash for four more 6-inch cake pans. You’ve got to fill the pan about half an inch with cake batter, plop it in the oven for 15 minutes (at the temperature listed on the back of the box), pull it out and let it cool, then repeat. Grab a book — it’ll be a while. (Pssst, I made cupcakes with the leftover batter.) When the layers cool they’ll be round on top. You’ll be stacking the layers and they should lay nicely, so you’ve got to remove that round top. Shave off the round top with a bread knife and discard the top … or eat it! To stack the layers use some frosting as a glue. Add a coating of frosting on top of the first cake layer, then plop another cake layer on top and squish them together. Repeat this for each layer EXCEPT for the top layer, and you’ve got a cake tower! (We’ll get to my frosting later.)
You’ll notice I flipped the top cake layer. I did this to ensure the top of the cake is even for frosting. I wanted to avoid a round top. When all your layers are “glued” together, crumb coat the cake with frosting. “Crumb coating” is when you add a layer of frosting all over the cake to seal in the crumbs. It prevents crumbs from getting into the art you’re about to create. Wilton has a great tutorial for crumb coating here.
After crumb coating the cake, leave it in the fridge for 30 minutes so the frosting hardens. This makes for a great canvas to work on! Start piping your frosting and making petals. To do this follow this tutorial by The Cake Blog or this video tutorial by Cake Style. Remember, I’m cheap, so I don’t use fancy cake bags for each color. A plastic Ziploc sandwich bag works just fine for projects like this because you don’t need to be super precise.
BOOM! Here’s the final product. It’s a little rough. I would have liked it to look a bit cleaner, but it was my first try. Still love it though! I took it to work the next day and nobody would cut it because it looks so nice. Don’t worry, I did the dirty work. I cut the cake. And it was eaten. Now, about that frosting. This may have been the best tasting buttercream frosting I’ve ever made — ever! What made it so different? I squeezed a lemon into it! That’s it. The lemon thinned the frosting a little, so I added corn starch to stiffen it back up. Worked like a charm. Myyyyy word, this frosting was good!
To make different colors, I started with my white homemade lemon buttercream frosting (as white as I could get it), split the frosting into three bowls, then added a little yellow food dye. I was worried the green alone would be too blah, so started with yellow. Then I added a little green to one, more green to another, and a lot of green to the last one to get three different shades.
These are the shades of green I ended up with! Pretty great. I only have two regrets here. First, I didn’t have the right shade of green. I wanted a brighter green, more neon. Second, I couldn’t get my frosting as white as I wanted to. I did some research and found a Wilton frosting whitener. I’ll test it out and report back. In the meantime, isn’t this frosting so pretty??