Posts tagged ‘#Cake4Kids’

Seven Tips for Working with Marshmallow Fondant

I bake for #Cake4Kids. This is a non-profit group that bakes birthday cakes for underserved children. You don’t have to be a professional baker to join. I wasn’t. It has been fun and rewarding to learn new skills. Right now, I am learning how to make fondant. I’ve tried it four times now. And I still have issues. I will keep at this until I am proficient and so that it doesn’t take me all day!

I used the marshmallow fondant recipe from Gemma at Bigger Bolder Baker. 

Gemma lists the following ingredients for her fondant  . . .

  • 10 ounces mini marshmallows
  • 2-3 Tbsp water (if it is humid use the 2 Tbsp)
  • 4 cups (1 pound) powdered sugar

I made these superhero toppers for cupcakes.

You basically put the marshmallows in a greased microwave-safe bowl. Cook for one minute and stir until all the lumps are smooth. You might need to add another 20-30 seconds.

I still need to learn more tips. But below are things I’ve learned to make working with fondant easier. None of these ideas are mind-blowing. But, hopefully, they will help you if you are new to this technique. Please, share what has worked for you.

I had fun makig these
bugs out of fondant for a #Cake4Kids group birthday party.

My Seven Tips

  1. Wear an apron. The first couple of times I did not use an apron when making fondant. Big mistake. I got powdered sugar and cocoa powder all over my shirt. It is so much easier to wash my apron than have to change AND wash my shirt. (I used cocoa powder twice when making black fondant.)
  2. Get parchment paper. Even though many recipes said I could use the counter or cutting board to knead and roll the fondant, the fondant stuck every time. Parchment paper is what I had the best success with.
  3. Tape down the paper. I am new to this fondant making, and maybe there is a better way to keep the parchment paper from slipping. Until I taped down the sides, the paper would not stay flat and in place. I even reverse rolled the paper to get the curl out; it didn’t make that much of a difference.
  4. Grease well. Grease the bowl, spatula, hands, and really anything that comes into contact with the fondant. Crisco was suggested. Once I used a flavored olive oil (Blood orange) because I wanted to fill the cupcake with orange curd.
  5. Use marshmallow crème. The last time I made fondant, I ran out of marshmallows because I couldn’t get my fondant the correct grey. I ended up putting in too much coloring. It turned brown; I’ve no idea how I did that. So I wanted to start over and all I had was marshmallow crème. It worked just fine.
  6. Mix in the bowl. Per the typical instructions, I put 3/4ths of the powdered super into the melted marshmallow mixture until it bound together. Then I poured it onto the parchment-covered counter and kneaded in the rest of the sugar. The problem is every time it was a sticky mess. This last time I made fondant, I watched a video where you mixed all of it in the bowl. I still had some difficulty, but I liked this method better. I hate getting icky-gooey-sticky. I will try this a couple more times and then see what I think.
  7. Store leftovers properly. Roll your fondant into a ball or log and coat with white vegetable shortening. Wrap it with plastic wrap. Then store it in an airtight container or ziplock bags. Keep on a shelf or cupboard away from direct sunlight.

Your Turn . . .  Please, share your fondant making tips. . . . Is there any tip from above that you’ll try? . . . Do you have any questions?

Related Posts . . .

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7 Decorating Ideas to Use on Easter Cakes

Since I started baking birthday cakes for Cake4Kids, I have been learning new decorating techniques. These ideas are not just for birthday cakes, either. What I am learning can be transferred to any holiday cake.

Look below to see how the various techniques can be used for this year’s Easter cake. And once you’ve made an Easter cake, you are ready to employ the technique on your next birthday cake.

The ideas shown are fondant, unicorn-style, multi-colored layers with sprinkles, naked cake, make your own shape cake, watercolor, drip, and ombre.

Easter Mini Log Cake (by Tracey Lau).

It would be easy to transform a round cake into this textured log. Add some buttercream flowers and a fondant bunny and butterfly. Oh, so cute and easy to do.

Bunny Easter Cake (by Dulce Gourmet). This bunny cake is reminiscent of the ever-so-popular unicorn cake. You could add flowers to this sweetie, if you want more color. And you can go to this post (ideas to decorate a unicorn cake) to get ideas for your bunny cake.

Easter Layer Cake (by The Gunny Sack). Each layer is a different spring color. Top with sprinkles and, TA DA, you are done. For another look, you could “naked frost the sides and the lovely cake colors would show.

Naked Carrot Cake (by The Little Epicurean). Carrot cake is always a good choice for an Easter or spring celebration. This baker used real carrots on top. With a little work, you could fashion fondant or modeling chocolate carrots to adorn your cake.

Cutest Easter Bunny Cake (by Food and Wine).  Bake two rounds and cut them according to the directions. Ice and then top with coconut. Use candy to make eyes, a nose, and whiskers. Sprinkles make a lovely bow-tie. This is sure to delight any child.

Easter Bunny Watercolour Cake (by Wilton). Have you tried the watercolor icing technique yet? It is easy and fast. Check out this video. The way the decorator made the bunny on the side of the cake is clever.


Mini Egg Drip Cake (by Jane’s Patisserie). Here is an Easter example of a drip cake. Pipe on some buttercream nests and top with Easter candies. This link also gives you the details on how to make the cake.

Modern Ombre Easter Cake (by Think. Make. Share). You’d never guess this “messy” first photo would end up with something so lovely. Learn this technique on an Easter cake and then use it for other themes, too.

Your Turn . . .

  • What technique will you try for your Easter cake? Next cake?
  • What have you already tried? Any tips?

Related Posts . . . 

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Today is National Unicorn Day & Here’s A Cake To Go With It

Today is National Unicorn Day. You’ve probably seen that unicorn cakes are in. Cake4Kids (C4K) volunteers have made these. Look at some of their ideas and ideas from Pinterest to get you started.
Most of the cakes I initially saw, had lots of flowers in lots of colors for the mane, and a gold horn with black, eyelash eyes on the side.

One of the cakes that exemplify this style. Cake made by a C4K volunteer.

Monochromatic flowers. Some bakers stuck to a monochromatic theme like this one for a boy. A C4Kids volunteer decorated this one.

Note the purple eyelashes and silver horn. Nice.

Instead of Flat Stanley, make a Flat Unicorn on a round cake.

This cake also has a lovely paisley design going around the cake.

Or decorate a sheet cake with a unicorn.

Love the purple horn.

Of course, sprinkles always make a great decorative accent.

A C4K volunteer made this birthday cake.

Horn ideas. You can make the horns out of fondant, Jello, modeling chocolate, a giant twist lollipop. or an ice cream cone. You can leave the cone plain or decorate it by frosting it and twirling it in sprinkles. EDITED to ADD – You can make a horn out of caramels, candy melts, and pretzel rods

These eyes are different than the norm and so cute.

Ear ideas. The ears can be made out of fondant, modeling chocolate, or marshmallows. You can also use marshmallows to make unicorn marshmallow pops.

This C4K cake has blue ears, horn, and eyelashes.

Cupcakes. Decorate each one as a unicorn with a gold candle for the horn and tiny flowers for hair. Or make a cupcake pull apart unicorn.

This pull apart has 21 cupcakes. It would be easy to add a few more to get to the usually required 2 dozen cupcakes.

And don’t forget about the board. It can look festive, as well.

This cake is baked and plated by a C4K volunteer.

There is a Cake4Kids sister duo that has made 6 unicorn cakes. Yep, 6. They now feel they have that technique down.
Like the idea of baking such a beauty, check out this video by Nerdy Nummies.
Feel too intimidated? Sacramento peeps, check out Jaynee Cakes. She has a class where you can learn how to make 3 types of unicorn cakes.
Your Turn . . . 
  • Show us photos of your unicorn cakes.
  • Share your tips or links, as well. 
  • Which cake from above is your fave? Will you be baking it?
  • If you live in CA and want more information about C4K, let me know.
Related Posts . . .

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4 Experiments with Veganizing Boxed Cake Mixes

Here are three of the four cakes. The 4th cake is IN the trash. It was awful. Read the post to see which one was the worst tasting experiment.

Have you cooked a vegan cake before? If not, is it because it seems too difficult? Or that you need too many ingredients you are not familiar with?

Gillian and I are part of a group that bakes birthday cakes for at risk and foster kiddos. Our demographic is asked to provide a lot of vegan cakes. So we decided to see how to veganize boxed cake mixes with only one “alternative” ingredient per recipe.

We experimented with two boxed cake mixes (a chocolate and a vanilla). In the end, would the changes we made add up to a tasty cake?

This brand is sold at Bel Air. It might be sold other places, too. It was on sale for about $5 a box.

First, we divided each box mix into halves. That way we could run two experiments on each box mix.

VANILLA CAKE MIX. It requires egg, butter, and milk. We made the following changes.

Experiment 1 – Use half box of vanilla cake dry mix

  • Egg – replaced by ¼ cup of applesauce
  • Butter – replaced by 2 Tbsp Melt (a vegan butter substitute)
  • Milk – replaced by ¼ cup almond milk
  • Added ¼ tsp baking powder
  • Put clip on this pan so we knew which recipe is which

Experiment 2 – Use half box of vanilla cake dry mix

  • Egg – replaced by ¼ cup of applesauce
  • Butter – replaced by 2 Tbsp oil
  • Milk – replaced by ¼ cup almond milk

We put each of these into a parchment-lined, 8-inch pan. Be sure to use vegan spread or vegan baking spray to coat the pans. We cooked the cakes for about 25 minutes.

Taste Results. Neither cake was exceptionally good nor did they rise. They were dense, sticky and overly sweet.

However, the one made with the oil (instead of Melt) was noticeably better tasting, although still not great. It appears the baking powder did not make a difference as both rose the same. Gillian and I decided we would not make either cake again. We considered both tweeks to be a FAIL.


CHOCOLATE CAKE MIX. It requires egg, oil, and water. We made the following changes.

Experiment 3 – half box of chocolate cake dry mix

  • Egg – replaced by ½ cup of applesauce
  • Oil – stayed with 1/3 cup oil
  • Water – stayed with 1/3 cup lukewarm water
  • Added ¼ tsp baking powder
  • Put clip on this pan so we knew which recipe is which.

Experiment 4 – half box of chocolate cake dry mix

  • Egg – replaced by ½ cup of applesauce
  • Oil – stayed with 1/3 cup oil
  • Water – replaced by 1/3 Cup almond milk

We put each of these into a parchment-lined, 8-inch pan. Be sure to use vegan spread or vegan baking spray to coat the pans.. We cooked the cakes for about 25 minutes.

Taste Results. Both cakes rose well, were moist, had a good crumb, and were tasty. We would make either one again. It appears the baking powder did not make a difference as both rose the same.


We used unsweetened applesauce. The cake didn’t take on the flavour of the apples.

Replacing eggs. Sources say to use ¼ cup of applesauce for each egg. So we made a “mistake” by doubling the amount for the chocolate cake recipes. However, the end result was a tasty cake. Perhaps the vanilla cake would have turned out better had we used 1/2 cup for each experiment.

Applesauce tip. We don’t normally eat applesauce in our home. So I bought a four pack of individuals serving applesauce. Each individual serving is ½ cup. It is easy to keep this on hand to make up a vegan cake.

Baking powder. Sources say to add 1/4 tsp for each one egg replacement. We won’t do this again as it didn’t seem to make any difference at all in how the cakes rose.

Cake mix brand. We used an organic cake mix called Organics. If you do these same experiments with a different brand, let us know your results.

8″ versus 9″ rounds. Each box mix made up two 8” round cakes. If you want to make 9” round cakes, we suggest you use two boxes. One box per pan.

You got this. The next time you have to make a vegan cake, grab a box of chocolate Organics cake mix, oil and some applesauce. If you don’t have a dairy-free milk, use water. It won’t affect the taste.

Your Turn . . . Try this experiment and report back. . . . What additional tips do you have to veganize a boxed cake mix?

Related Posts . . . 

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Cake Baking Resolutions 2019

This is one of my practice cakes when I was working on ruffles.

In 2018 I became a part of Cake4Kids. It is a non-profit organization that bakes birthday cakes for at risk kiddos. Baking cakes is something I am comfortable with. My children are now in their mid-thirties and so I’ve made a lot of birthday cakes. I thought baking for Cake4Kids would be easy.

Turns out, it is harder than I expected.

  1. I am worried about how my cake will look. I want the recipient to be pleased with the cake and I am not sure they will be.
  2. A lot of the requests have been for vegan cakes. I am not a vegan cake baker. So I have been worried about how the cake will taste.

Benjamin Franklin has an idea I can follow, though.

He said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

I can plan and act my way into not being so intimidated by the look and taste of vegan and non-vegan cakes.

I won’t fail in my baking attempts in 2019, instead, I’ll make baking resolutions. I signed up for an online school, Bluprint. I’ve gone through their course list. I have four things I want to try over the next three months.

  • Two decorating ideas. Sprinkle cake and a Rosette cake. These look fancy and yet I think they will be easy techniques to master. I will use a box mix when I make these practice cakes since a box mix is so inexpensive. And I have a couple of places these cakes will be delivered to so that all this cake is not at my home.
  • Two vegan cakes. Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes and Cinnamon Swirl Cake. The idea of baking a vegan cake has been intimidating. So when I saw that Bluprint has 5 vegan cake recipes, I was thrilled. I have a couple of vegan friends who will gladly be my taste-testers.

I will make all of the above until I become an expert or ditch the recipe because it failed to deliver. Or I failed to master them. Then I will pick two more decorating techniques and two more vegan cakes to try.

Related Posts . . . Kindness is Baking a Birthday Cake for Someone You Don’t Know

Your Turn . . . Please share your baking resolutions for 2019. , , , Also share any tips you have for me.

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Kindness is Baking a Birthday Cake for Someone You Don’t Know

This post is part of #Write31Days where bloggers write every day in October on one topic. I am writing about Acts of Kindness, random and otherwise. It is my hope that my community and I are different as a result of this 31 Day Series.


Is birthday cake an important part of your childhood memories?

My answer is, “Yes.” I don’t remember all the cakes my mom made. But I do know that she made our cakes. A family favorite was German Chocolate cake. I don’t think I ever made my kiddos a German Chocolate cake. But I did always serve them a specially decorated cake that matched the theme of their birthday party. Receiving a homemade birthday cake always made me feel special. Giving my kiddos a homemade birthday cake, was one of the ways I hoped my kids would feel special.

Did you know that there are kiddos who never get a birthday cake? Never.

This is one of my practice cakes.

In 2010 Libby Gruender from Sunnyvale, CA read about a young girl in a Midwest foster home who received a birthday cake. The girl reacted by running to her room while crying. Of course the foster mom thought she had done something wrong and went upstairs to right the situation. It turns out, the girl was emotional because this was her very first birthday cake.

Gruender decided right then to make sure kids in her community received cake for their birthdays. That is why she created Cake4Kids. There are currently chapters in ten CA counties.

Mary Barnes started Sacramento Cake4Kids in July, 2018. So far there are about thirty Sacramento bakers. Volunteer bakers are required to attend a one-hour orientation. All the orientations are on a Saturday and are from 12:30-1:30pm. The schedule for the 2018 orientations is as follows:

  • The October 20th­­­­­ orientation will be held at Arcade library.
  • The November 10th orientation will be held at Arden-Dimick library.
  • The December 22nd orientations will be held at Arcade library.

This vegan, chocolate, gluten-free cake was the first cake I delivered to the agency for a four-year-old boy.

Knowing firsthand how getting a birthday cake equals feeling significant, I am now part of Cake4Kids. My daughter, Elizabeth, also joined this ministry and so the fun is doubled. So far we’ve each made one cake. Although we used the same recipe for the cake, our two cakes looked very different. My marbled cake was for a four-year-old boy. Elizabeth’s flower bedecked cake was for an 11-year-old girl.

There is no minimum number of cakes a volunteer must make. We are advised to practice even before we accept an assignment. And we are advised to make our cake and decorate it a day or two early. That way, should there be a mistake, it is not a rushed scenario to correct it.

You don’t have to be a fancy baker in order to make a valuable contribution. I am not a fancy baker although I’ve made scores of birthday cakes. A fun aspect of Cake4Kids is learning new things.

  1. I learned to bake a vegan cake that was tasty. Two sample cakes were thrown away.
  2. The vegan frosting recipe was easy to create.
  3. A chocolate cake is much easier to coat with white frosting, if you lightly pre-frost it, and then put it into the freezer or refrigerator to harden before putting on the main coat of frosting. This is known as dirty icing or crumb coating.
  4. YouTube videos helped me to perfect marbled frosting.
  5. I made chocolate letters out of melted chocolate chips spooned into an icing bag. I was pleased with how the letters I made looked.
  6. One tip that made sense is to use a turntable and a bench scraper (yes, from the hardware store) to ensure that the frosting is evenly distributed.

This is my daughter’s cake. It was also chocolate, vegan, and gluten-free. Both our cakes had vegan, vanilla, butter cream icing.

And this is just the tip of the information iceberg. There are many resources on Pinterest, in books, and at the Sacramento Facebook Cake4Kids group. Plus, Cake4Kids gives each volunteer $100 to use towards classes at cake shops and online.

Barnes recruits volunteers to bake birthday cakes for kids who are homeless, in foster care, recent immigrants, or victims of human trafficking. Cake4Kids is for children and young adults up to the age of twenty-four. Bakers never meet the kids who receive cakes. We drop them off at an agency in order to protect the child’s privacy. More information can be found at their website,

If you’d like to be kind and bring joy into a child’s life, attend an orientation. Together we can help Sacramento area kiddos eat cake.

Your Turn . . .  How important is cake to your birthday celebrations? . . .  If you live in California, consider joining in and making cake as an act of kindness. . . . If you are a cake decorator, what is your best tip? . . . Do you have any questions?  

You can practice being kind by leaving me a comment.

My Landing Page for This series . . . Scattering Kindness: A 31 Day Adventure.  Please leave me an idea or two that I can add to my acts of kindness list. The idea can be intentional or random.

Go here for yesterday’s post: Kindness is Organizing a Sock Drive

Related Posts . . .

Previous #Write31Days Topics

Thanks go to Elizabeth Symington for making my #Write31Days button and basic graphic for the kindness quotes. Elizabeth is writing a 31 days series on Summer of Service in Yosemite.

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60 Acts of Kindness, Intentional & Random to do my 60th year

The Finish Date.

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