Becoming ‘cake boss’: my self-taught journey in cake decorating!

Baking is my stress relief and I have taken up more adventurous forms of cake decorating over the past 2 years while studying for my specialist exams. I am no where near as advanced as many of the other foodies you find on social media, but this is just one of those hobbies that I do because I love it rather than trying to be the best at it.

Perhaps my cakes below can be of some inspiration next time you’d like to try something a little different. If the photos below show anything, it’s that practice clearly makes perfect. While I still have a long way to go, I’m still pretty stoked with how far I’ve come already!


My first proper cake decorating effort as a thank you to my paediatric emergency team: Dark chocolate and caramel mud cake with decorations that were so heavy the cake almost fell apart under the weight!

The bow was to hide the fact the back of the cake was slowly falling apart under the weight. I learnt that using metal skewers to help stack the heaviest decorations at the back of the cake is not the best idea!!



A 30th birthday cake for one of my favourite work friends: vanilla baked cheesecake with triple chocolate brownie, vanilla frosting and a tonne of decorations!

This cake was amazing in taste, but having a dense brownie in the middle of two softer cheesecakes certainly made it very messy to cut. She loved it though, so that’s all that really matters




My bestie’s last minute 29th birthday cake: two store bought pavlova with lemon curd, fresh whipped cream, white chocolate drizzle and her favourite fresh fruit.

You’d think I would have learnt my lesson from my first cake about putting heavy decorations onto a soft cake and praying it doesn’t collapse but it looks like I needed a second reminder about this. Obviously this tasted amazing, and pavlova is supposed to be messy, but there’s nothing quite like trying to blow out candles before they sink into the middle of the collapsing cake…. 

 


A thank you for my anaesthetics team: red velvet and vanilla cake, with chocolate and cream cheese frosting in between, then topped with more vanilla frosting and a myriad of chocolates.

I was super happy with this one at the time. Yes the ganache looks super thick, and ohmygoodness this was one of the heaviest cakes I’ve ever made, but it was honestly a thrill to see my colleague’s faces light up when they found this monster in the tea room.

Toothpicks and fruit can get a bit squishy, so I’d use ganache to glue them on next time. But otherwise I loved making this!

 


A thank you to my ICU team: vanilla mud cake with layers of caramel and chocolate brownie, with vanilla buttercream and a mixture of caramel and chocolate decorations.

 

I was honestly sick of the taste of both caramel and chocolate by the end of making this BUT the cake itself turned out not as sickly sweet as I’d imagined. It helped that I made the buttercream less sweet, so all in all the flavours balanced out. I just adore all the different shapes in the decorations on top (made with toblerone, malteasers, bueno and kitkat).  

 


Just a casual work morning tea: red velvet, vanilla, chocolate fudge and cream cheese frosting in between, my first attempt at a red coloured buttercream, edible glitter and as always, lots of chocolate!

We have an unspoken rule about bringing morning tea when we’re facilitating education sessions. After arriving with this cake, my colleague asked why I had bought a “4 tiered wedding cake” to work (or topic was ‘trauma’ so I thought it only appropriate to have a dramatic looking cake!). It was again super heavy, very rich, a bit messy, but rather delicious. It also definitely looks lop sided in the photo, which I think is because I used a slightly bigger cake tin for the bottom layer and tried to trim it down.


A goodbye and thank you cake for one of my bosses: chocolate and vanilla mud cake, salted caramel frosting in between, chocolate buttercream and Lindt / Rafaello!

I have no idea what I did differently but this chocolate buttercream was just meant to be – not too sweet, not too rich, perfectly texture and piped like a dream!

This was also my first time using a custom made cake topper by Little Event Boutique and it worked magnificently. I also used plastic flowers that I found in a cake store, which were obviously removed before eating.


A mermaid theme cake on request for a special little 3 year old: chocolate and vanilla with blue vanilla buttercream, white chocolate seaweed and coral, biscuit crumb sand, Little Event Boutique cake topper. 

I separated the buttercream mix into white, baby blue and a deep blue colour, which I tried to do as a gradient around the cake. I marbled the buttercream in the wiping bag to make the waves on top, and added Guylian chocolate sea shells with silver cake decorating spray. The gorgeous cake topper was again custom made by Little Event Boutique, and the adorable mermaid sprinkles were sourced from eBbay  by CakeConstructions101


Thank you to my ED colleagues: red velvet and vanilla cake, white chocolate cream cheese frosting, vanilla buttercream, milky bar cookie balls, sugar decorations, iced VoVos, Little Event Boutique cake topper.

I had a hiatus from cake making while studying for my specialist exams. Lo and behold I managed to pass on my first attempt, after many hours of study and literal tears of stress. My ever-so patient and kind bosses earned themselves a crazy diabetes-inducing cake as a small token of our appreciation for the effort they put in to training us. 

 


The ANZAC day cake: caramel and vanilla mud cake, caramel and vanilla buttercream, ANZAC biscuit crumb, buttercream and dark chocolate poppies. 

I am not much of a floral arrangement afficionado, but I can bake, and as it turns out, I can bake a cake in the shape of a wreath. Many of our friends and colleagues are members of the Australian and New Zealand defence forces, and we honour them for their dedication and service on ANZAC day each year. 


My 30th birthday cake: chocolate and vanilla cake, Mars Bar cream cheese frosting, chocolate and caramel buttercream, carmel Lindt, milky bar cookie balls, Kinder Bueno, Little Event Boutique cake topper. 

What was supposed to be a milestone birthday was a complete non-event thanks to COVID lock-down at the time. So lucky for me, I spent the day at home, alone, making this insane cake, which I then took to work the next day. Although it wasn’t my favourite birthday, this was definitely one of my favourite cakes! 


My first Wedding Cake: red velvet and vanilla cake, white chocolate cream cheese frosting, champagne and blush buttercream, white chocolate drizzle, Rafaello, white Lindt balls, custom Marche Du Macaron macarons, Little Event Boutique custom cake topper. 

For a beautiful couple and a COVID lock-down wedding ceremony, I had the unbelievable honour of making their wedding cake. 6 hours, 2 cakes, 2 kilos of buttercream and a lot of piping later, I was thrilled with the result (even more so knowing the bride ate this for breakfast for the next week!).


The “work husband” cake: vanilla and caramel mud cake, Mars Bar cream cheese frosting, chocolate and caramel buttercream, lots of chocolate!

I am a firm believer in having a work husband / work wife to keep you sane. Mine is an absolute gem of a human being, and what better way to celebrate his awesomeness than a hefty little cake. This one was smaller than my others, making it perfect for a quick picnic by the river and a cheeky sugar coma before work! 

 

 


The “little sister” cake: vanilla and red velvet cake, white chocoalte cream cheese frosting, vanilla and strawberry jam buttercream, homemade vanilla macarons, Little Event Boutique cake topper. 

While she may not be a real little sister, I am so profoundly lucky to have a darling housemate who I would consider like a little sister any day! She too had an somewhat isolation style birthday, but it didn’t mean she couldn’t have a cake as beautiful as her soul! 

 

 



The gluten-free cake: chocolate and vanilla cake, coconut cream cheese frosting, chocolate vanilla buttercream, homemade bittersweet chocolate macarons, homemade chocolate coconut hearts, mini-meringues, Byron Bay Cookie Company biscuit bites, Little Event Boutique cake topper. 

My oldest friend turned 30 this year and lucky for her, we were out of lock-down by the time her special day came around. Cue this insanely chocolatey creation, every ounce of which was gluten free! 

 


The baby shower cake: chocolate and vanilla mud cake, Caramilk cream cheese frosting, vanilla buttercream, white chocolate hearts, mini meringues, raspberry chocolate balls, CakeConstructions101 topper and sprinkles. 

There must have been something in the water at work with 5 of our colleagues pregnant at the same time. With a mixture of boy and girl babies on the way, it made sense to have a pink and blue cake with all the trimmings! Also topped with some cute cut-outs from a greeting card I found in a discount store, which worked remarkably well.

 


 

Just fooling around with some pretty buttercream! 


Baby Girl cake: strawberry and vanilla cake, white chocolate cream cheese filling, vanilla frosting, strawberry sundae buttercream, homemade chocolate tidbits, Rafaello, cake topper by Little Event Boutique. 

Just like an Ekka strawberry sundae, only cake-y! 

The photo doesn’t quite do the colours in this cake justice, with beautiful peachy pinks and an ivory white. I had to improvise with the buttercream and use strawberry jam as I was recently out of freeze dried strawberry powder, but the taste was just as good! Homemade chocolate tidbits include sprinkle hearts and flowers, and some white chocolate domes filled with blackberry and coconut.