Back in the summer when we were planning H’s birthday party, I offered to make her cake like I have done in the past. She said yes, and we talked about what kind she wanted, and the first thing she said was “Galaxy”. Sure, I could do that. So we sat down and watched some Youtube videos, and fell down a rabbit hole.
Sure, I could have tried making a mirror cake, but it turns out one of the friends who would be at the party is vegan or something, and so I wouldn’t be able to use gelatin. So, the complicated mirror cake was not an option. Darn. 😉 Luckily Ro has another galaxy-themed video, and this one ended up being a good source of inspiration – especially for color and how to use easy-to-find baking decorations to make it more “spacey”.
For my final piece of inspiration, I’ve been following the Wilton company on Instagram for a while. They are the ones that you may have heard of if you know anything about companies which make baking supplies. They have so much cute and pretty inspiration on their feed, and often have guests “take over” and show how to make a project from start to finish. I was able to take inspiration from somewhere along the way and decide that the best way to do this cake would be to make a more “watercolor” style of frosting. So with that all in mind – how did I do it?
Well, first off, while I did bake the cake myself, I didn’t make it from scratch – it was from a box. Perhaps even two boxes? I don’t remember. But I made three layers, let them cool, and then leveled them out so that there wouldn’t be a dome formed at the top. I placed the first layer on my cake stand (with some parchment paper all around the bottom so frosting drips would be on the paper and not on the glass), and put a big dollop of whipped frosting on top. That’s right – frosting from the can. I made sure there was enough to have an even spread on the first layer (not too thin or thick) which was about half a can, and then added my second layer of cake. I once again dolloped half the can of frosting, and then added my third and final layer to the top, then the entire thing (cake stand and all) went into the fridge. When you’re frosting a cake on a warm day, this is essential so that things don’t get too warm and melty. It’s harder to control where the frosting goes or how thick it will be if it keeps glooping off.
While the cake cooled again, I divided another two cans of whipped frosting into bowls. In the largest bowl, I placed a large dollop of frosting, and then in four smaller bowls (maybe even five?), I put smaller amounts of frosting. The large bowl would hold the background color – the black – and the five smaller bowls would have brighter colors in contrast. I used gel coloring to tint the white frosting the correct color. As you can probably see, my black never got super black, and instead ended up a sort of dark navy blue, but for this context, that was fine. I think if I wanted it to be blacker, I could have used more gel, I was just hesitant to use so much, and happy enough with how it turned out.
From there I just frosted the cake with a thin layer of the black frosting, and then added dollops of the colored frostings scattered in different areas like that watercolor style. I then took my offset spatula and smoothed the top and sides. This blurred the colors together, while still maintaining a mostly-dark color, but with bright patches as well. When I had finished with the frosting, I grabbed my embellishments, and added them on while the frosting was still a little warm and sticky. I used a variety of types, including a the white sparkling sugars from this container, little white sugar pearls like these that I’d inherited from a cookie-decorating event, and edible silver stars. I feel like this mix of sprinkle styles gave me a fun style on the cake while adding textural interest as well.
As for how it turned out? I was really proud. Theoretically a “fancy” cake like this should be difficult to do, but cutting some corners and using boxed cake with canned frosting cut out a lot of steps. Yes, I know that from-scratch cakes and frostings can taste better, but when you’re making a cake for a bunch of pre-teen girls who are either going to wolf it down or just pick at it, and when you don’t have a lot of time because there’s a baby to worry about,, you don’t want it to be something that you’ll lose a lot of sleep over. I’m really proud of how the colors looked, and the way that the mix of sprinkles added to the visual effect. Yes, there are bits of frosting sticking out, and it could have been smoother, but I’ll blame that on a hot and sticky day, and not caring quite as much that it be perfect. Because in the end, unless they are perfectionists, kids won’t notice. Instead, they’ll appreciate the cool thing that they have and get to eat, and will be glad that you listened when they made a request.
So – has anyone else out there made cool cake? One that was perhaps more complicated in theory than it was in practice?