The twins turned two recently. Last year, I ordered smash cakes for them, as M had a newly diagnosed egg allergy and I just couldn't handle trying to put together birthday cakes for them with this new restriction. A local bakery, Flavor Cupcakery, does vegan cakes, and I was sold.
This year, I decided it was time to try to bake the cake myself. I pulled out my trusty egg-free cookbook, Bakin' Without Eggs, and picked out a recipe: the Silver White Cake. My icing was a basic buttercream icing.
I have done some cakes in the past and was always befuddled because my cakes weren't perfectly flat and putting them together successfully in layers was challenging. Additionally, my icing was always a hot mess and full of crumbs. This time, I did my research to get my layers as flat as possible and discovered that I was really doing what is called a crumb coat before and you really have to go back over top of that layer with more frosting (no objections here to more frosting).
Using Wilton's Bake-Even Strips, which you soak in water for about 5 minutes and then wrap around your pan, I was able to get even layers. I was skeptical, but these really work!
My nice even layers.
I also wanted to try a little bit of decorating. I bought some cake decorating supplies from Wilton (tips, bags, gel icing colors, cake wheel), and ordered some Thomas cake toppers from Amazon.
A tip I found for keeping any filling from leaking out in between your layers is to pipe some icing around the edge of your layer and then put the filling in the middle (Strawberry, yum!)
Then you put your layers together and do a crumb coat, starting on the top. Here is a great tutorial on how to do a crumb coat.
Once your crumb coat is complete, pop the cake in the fridge for about 20 minutes to harden the frosting enough to make your next layer of frosting easy to do without pulling off your crumby crumb coat.
Here is the cake after the second coat. Not perfect, but much better than any previous attempts. And once you pipe and decorate any imperfections are less noticable. One tip: many resources online will tell you you can make your buttercream ahead of time and refrigerate it and pull it out to warm up when you need it. I found the frosting took forever to warm up and was harder to work with. In the future, I will make it fresh right before I want to use it. Another tip is to make way more icing than you think you need (I quadrupled the buttercream recipe).
Wilton's website has a lot of great tutorials and instructions on how to decorate a cake. Also this video was helpful. My final product is not quite up to par with their's, but it is still the fanciest cake I have ever made.
Here is the final cake with piping and cake toppers. It got the seal of approval from the twins who for days were asking for more cake, and hubby liked it too!