Wednesday, June 3, 2009

How to Make a Present Cake

When I saw the picture of this adorable cake, I discovered that my friend Kathy had hidden talents! I proposed that she write a guest post on my blog, and she graciously accepted. I wanted to share it with anyone who might wander in here—and hopefully get her cake on Foodgawker. Keep your fingers crossed.

In the mean time, here's how you can make this super cute and super easy cake! Take it away, Kathy...

First, let's start with the bow.

Two days before you need the cake, you'll need to start preparations for the big bow that goes on top. I made it out of fondant. You can find ready-to-use fondant in your local craft store in the cake decorating section. (I would suggest this over attempting to make your own.) Take about 1/2 of the fondant and roll it out, using confectioners sugar to keep it from sticking to the counter. Roll into a rectangle, about 1/8" think, and a little over 12" long. Cut the fondant (I used a wood ruler and pizza cutter) into 6" x 1" strips. Moisten the end of the strip and fold it over to create a loop. Lay the loop on its side to dry on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Create 16 loops. These need to dry for a couple days before assembly.

One day before you need the cake, it's time to assemble the bow. After the loops have dried and hardened (at least one day) lay them in a circular patter, ends touching—I used 8 for the bottom. Moisten the flat ends very lightly and then pressed them together to form the circle. (Kelly's note: Take another look at the pic and you'll get a better grasp of what Kathy's doing here.) Take a tiny piece of fondant (from the other half to be used later) and mix it with a little water to make it pasty, like glue. Put that in the center of the bottle layer. Then moistening the ends of the remaining loops (just a little) layered them on top of the bottom circle. Let dry one day on a cookie sheet lined with clean wax paper.

Next, bake your cake. I used an 8" square pan and a regular cake mix. After baking and letting the cake cool completely, I sliced the cake in half with a a cake leveler that I bought at my local craft store. It is the best thing EVER and only cost $3.99. I also leveled off the top layer so it would be flat.

Then make your buttercream icing. Here is the recipe I used.
  • 1/2 cup butter (real butter, no margarine) room temp
  • 1/2 cup shortening (I know some of you may not want to use shortening, you can substitute another 1/2 cup of butter for this but the frosting will not be quite as firm)
  • 1 lb confectioners sugar (about 4 cups)
  • 1 tsp clear vanilla (you don’t have to use clear unless you want a white frosting, if you want white then use the clear, as regular will discolor your frosting)
  • 2-3 Tbsp milk
  • A pinch of salt (this is very important, don’t leave it out.)
  • Food coloring of choice

Assemble cake layers with layer of frosting between. Gently brush off any crumbs on the cake and lightly frost the sides and the top with a thin layer of the buttercream. Let this dry 10-15 min. This will prevent crumbs in your final frosting. Continue frosting with remaining buttercream.

Getting the pretty design on the cake is very easy. Let your cake dry for 15-20 min after frosting. Lay a clean paper towel on top of your frosted cake and gently rub your fingers over the raised pattern, lightly smoothing the frosting—a quick and easy way to add a pattern to your cake. Repeat for the sides. Let dry completely.

Back to the fondant for the ribbon sides.
I measured the height and width of my cake to figure out how long I need the strips to be and made them 1 inch wide. Drape the strips on the cake like you would a present. Add a little buttercream to act as glue in the center where the two strips intersect. Gently pick up your assembled bow and put on the buttercream spot. Gently press it down in the center. Next cut a small strip of fondant, 1" wide and 3" long, and make a circle. Press the ends together. Put a small amount of buttercream in the center of your bow (you may want to use white buttercream here so it is not seen). Place your circle in the center of your bow pressing down lightly to attach. Take a small amount of tissue or paper towel and roll it to insert into the center of your circle. This will help it keep its form while it dries. Just be sure to remove it before serving!

If desired, you can dust your cake and bow with an edible pearl dust (also found in your local craft store in the cake decorating aisle). This adds a very nice shimmer! Just be sure to let everything dry completely before dusting.


Thanks, Kathy!


  1. Cool, I love guest posts! Beautiful cake!

  2. Wow, that looks awesome! I'm sure it tastes as good as it looks, too! Such a lady of many talents!


  3. So pretty! Kathy I think you have a second career in the making!

  4. Thanks a lot for the tutorial, this information was incredibly important for me to learn how to make a present cake. Appreciate it


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