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Decorate a Birthday Cake Like a Pastry Chef!


If you don’t already know, now you know…it’s Breah’s birthday!!!!!! Happy birthday Bee!!! In honor of her special day, here is a tutorial on how to decorate a cake like a professional pastry chef (or at least like my my little sister, Halle, pastry chef extraordinaire in training).

Celebrating a birthday during quarantine is a bit more challenging but with a little creativity and a DIY-attitude, you can make the birthday girl (or guy) feel special. Who knows, it could be their very favorite birthday yet!

Since no birthday celebration is complete without a cake, here is a step by step guide for making a professional looking cake while stuck at home.

Step 1: Bake your favorite cake (we won’t tell anyone if you use a cake mix but we’ll give extra points if you make it from scratch 😉 We recommend making three layers for the best looking cake. Once your cakes are cooled, place them in the freezer for three hours or overnight. This will make the cake easier to frost. See tips at the bottom for more instructions.

Step 2: Make the frosting.

Bakery style vanilla frosting with bittersweet chocolate: 

  • 2 cups of softened unsalted butter 
  • 1 cup of shortening (you can use all butter if you prefer but the shortening will help it look good for longer)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla 
  • 1 package of sifted powdered sugar 
  • 3 tablespoons milk (I used almond milk)
  • 3 squares of bitter baking chocolate 

Start by creaming the softened butter and shortening until lightened in color. Next add in the vanilla, ⅓ of the powdered sugar, and milk. Beat until well combined, and continue to add powdered sugar until you have reached the desired consistency and flavor. 

Once the vanilla buttercream is done, shave in the bitter chocolate with a microplane, and gently fold in to get nice specks of chocolate. 

Step 3: Make the ganache.

Chocolate Ganache for drip :

  • 1 cup of dark chocolate 
  • ⅓ cup of milk 
  • An additional 1 Tablespoon of milk to thin out the ganache 

Have the 1 cup of dark chocolate ready in a heat proof bowl, and bring the milk to a soft boil. Once the milk reaches a boil, immediately take it off the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes before stirring. Let cool before using it on the cake. Right before you are going to drip it around the cake, add in the 1 tablespoon of milk and stir until combined. Pour the chocolate ganache into a piping bag, and cut off just the tip of the bag. You don’t want the hole to be too big or else the ganache won’t drip with the desired effect. 

Tips and tricks: 

I prefer to frost cakes while they are frozen, so, once the cakes have cooled completely after baking, wrap them up and pop them in the freezer for at least three hours, or overnight. Freezing them does not affect the flavor or texture, just makes them easier to frost, and by the time your cake is ready to ganache, they will be ready to serve! 

When frosting your cake, first do a “crumb” layer of frosting, where you cover the outside, make it nice and smooth, but still able to see some of the cake layers. Pop it in the fridge for ten minutes, let that first layer of frosting set up, then go ahead and do the second coating and you won’t have any bald spots, and a perfectly frosted cake. 

When ganaching your cake, start by doing the drips around the rim of the cake first. This is a lot easier than pouring the chocolate in the middle, and trying to spread it outwards. So instead, once you have finished the drips, move on to the middle and use your mini offset spatula to ganache the top. 

If you’re feeling real fancy, you can top your cake with rosettes and then grate chocolate over the top! But, a simple ganache drip is enough to make your dinner guests marvel at your skills. 

Check out our Instagram for detailed videos!

Now, send a picture to the friend who is celebrating their birthday so they can virtually enjoy their beautiful cake. Or even better, share your cake with your cat and plant friends while FaceTiming them! Obviously, were mostly joking! If you’re able to deliver the cake to your birthday person that would be the best option! 😉

Have you celebrated your birthday or a friend/family member’s while in quarantine? What did you do to make them feel special?

Happy cake decorating and birthday celebrating! And thank you Halle for all the great tips!

xo, Sam

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