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Advice needed please on baking daughter's birthday cake - how far in advance?

(34 Posts)
slackcabbage Sun 25-May-14 18:01:22

Sorry - these are very basic questions- and only a day in it really ...but ... would appreciate advice from experienced bakers please.

Have to have my daughter's birthday cake ready by 4pmish this Wed afternoon. Fairly large - victoria sponge type - split with jam and covered in butter icing. (Rather complicated shape/decoration too!)

Is it OK to make the cake on Monday and ice on Tuesday?

Or would it be better to make the cake on Tuesday and ice on Wed morning (day of party)? It will probably need two layers of buttercream on top (one crumb layer plus one more smoother layer).

If I make it on Monday will it be stale/will icing go off by Wed afternoon?

Will making a large quantity of buttercream on the morning of the party totally destroy my kitchen? Or can buttercream be made in advance?

Any tips/help gratefully received! I'm a fairly experienced cook, I just haven't made a huge cake of this type before!

One last question: what would be the timings if I decided to put real whipped cream/fruit in middle? (Not sure that would go with butter cream icing on cake exterior though!)

Thank you!

TheWhispersOfTheGods Sun 25-May-14 18:08:56

It will probably be totally fine made on Monday, but you can make up the buttercream in advance, fridge it and just re whip it on Weds morning and ice. I'd probably make (and carve if necessary) the cake on Tuesday, and make up the buttercream while it is baking, and stick it in the fridge. Store the cake in a tin or tupperware in the larder if you have one, or just in a cool place overnight, not the fridge

With whipped cream, definitely do it the day of, storaing the cake in the fridge will make it stale and you can't store the cream elsewhere. Fruit won't make a difference really. I prefer buttercream to whipped cream personally and don't think they go together.

newnameforanewstart Sun 25-May-14 18:09:38


Cake can be made FAR in advance and frozen if necessary!

Butter cream can be made far in advance and frozen if necessary.

Crumb coat and then fridge or pop in freezer for 20min to set hard.

The top coat much much easier if the crumb coat has well set.

If you want to bake cake on monday, then crumb coat and put in fridge (put rest of better cream in fridge to)

Tuesday top coat then fridge again, you can do a much better job getting totally smooth with a warm knife of cool butter cream

Wednesday get out of fridge and stick candles in light and serve.

Easy as pie!

Real whipped cream (unless stabilized is difficult to ice with) real fruit if chopped in anyway leaks and will make sponge wet very quickly.


slackcabbage Sun 25-May-14 18:26:50

Thank you very much TheWhisperoftheGods and NewnameforanewStart - I really appreciate the advice!

For future birthday celebrations, will bear in mind that both cake and butter icing can be frozen - I never knew that!

Think I will go for baking/sculpting and butter-cream making on Tues. Then just have to do decorating Wed morning.

Also appreciate the tips about setting crumb coat in fridge/freezer!

This is a bit of a 'wing and a prayer' project because have left the planning of it far too late as usual but feel on much firmer ground now thanks to your advice!

nannycook Sun 25-May-14 19:25:13

Slack, I made a 10"today for Tuesday, and I'm making a 12" round for my grandsons cake tomorrow ready for Wed, to be filled tomorrow, crumb coat Tuesday, thats only because I'm off work otherwise it takes me 3 days.

Imnotaslimjim Sun 25-May-14 19:57:15

Bake Monday night and ice it Tuesday. The amount of sugar in the buttercream will stop it going off. I sell cakes and if its for Saturday I bake Wednesday night, ice and decorate Thursday and I've never had a complaint. Use a Madeira sponge rather than victoria and it will keep about a week

newnameforanewstart Sun 25-May-14 19:58:02

Slack what sort of shape are you making?

Quick tip for you.

If you are layering thin layers with butter cream, jam, syrup etc. Then cut them and the layer with icing etc BACK into the pan - give you good crisp sides which are easier for cutting etc. Best with a spring or push up bottom pan but you can do it with any pan and enough grease proof paper.

Ok here´s the way I would do it.

Bake Cake
Fill cake THEN FRIDGE to let the butter cream set up - much easier to cut a cake that is not fighting you by moving about.
once cut, Dirty ice (if you have cut off far to much in places add some of the cut of cake crumbled into the icing you will be amazed at what you can fill in) put back in fridge or freezer if short of time.
Then do your final coat of icing and decorate, fridge until party.


slackcabbage Mon 26-May-14 08:00:52

Oooh, more really useful tips - thank you everyone!

Sounds as if your baking skills are much in demand atm Nannycook

Imnotaslimjim am getting a bit antsy about everything I have to achieve before party so really appreciate professional advice! Good to know I can start baking tonight if necessary!

Newnameforanewstart yes it definitely does help thank you! I am making a dolphin cake ... well... that's the theory anyway grin Probably end up looking more like a tadpole or worse!

slackcabbage Mon 26-May-14 10:41:52

Another question just occurred to me... .

This is the worst case scenario, but if it all goes pear-shaped and I run out of time completely, what does shop-bought fondant taste like? Is it horrible and synthetic or just bland enough to allow flavour of cake to prevail?

Not even sure I can buy it here (live abroad) but think there is one specialist shop that stocks it.

Imnotaslimjim Mon 26-May-14 20:11:04

Shop bought fondant is absolutely fine, tastes the same as the stuff on shop bought cakes. Kids go mad for it

newnameforanewstart Mon 26-May-14 20:21:14

Shop bought fondant brilliant stuff! You could probably get away with a good crumb coat then fondant to be honest and kids love it.

Depending what size cake you want!

Goggle image of dolphin to colour in, print either in one sheet a4 or as many as you want. Sticky tape together then cut out and lay on cake, use a dab of butter cream to hold it still or pins work quite well too. Hold life at 90degrees to kitchen work surface and cut to dolphin paper template. Ice it and it will look fab!

If you want to show off a bit rember that a dolphin is 3d and shape it in 3d by turning your knife at an angle and going from highest point of dolphin down to wear it would curve away into the sea etc.

It will look fab, whatever you do!

slackcabbage Mon 26-May-14 21:24:58

Wow! Yet more brilliant advice - thank you again!

I'll see how the time pans out tomorrow Imnotaslimjim -very busy in the office atm - but very good to know fondant is an option. Dc here tend to be quite fussy about how their patisserie tastes though ... bearing in mind that the choice on offer in just your local bakery is of a pretty high level ... quite scary baking for them all in fact!

Thanks for the carving/sculpting advice Newnameforanewstart. I've already downloaded a template and will remember about the curves!! Great tip about using butter cream to fix template too!

slackcabbage Tue 27-May-14 12:01:38

Apologies experienced bakers - one more quick question occurred to me at work this morning!

I assume you construct and ice the cake on the board that it is eventually going to be served on?

When I ice ordinary cakes (ie not cut and shaped and pieces stuck together) I usually ice them on one surface and then lift them off to put on a nice clean serving platter or board.

But with this cake which is all different pieces stuck together, presumably that is too risky?

Any tips on keeping the serving surface clean while you are icing it? I'm a bit messy generally!

nannycook Tue 27-May-14 16:55:19

What kind of covering are you putting on your cake slack if you dont mind me asking?

slackcabbage Tue 27-May-14 19:15:21

Thanks nannycook It's going to be butter cream (beating right now!)

Very behind because of all the days at the office, of course we had to have a complete computer shut down tday!! Yargh!

slackcabbage Wed 28-May-14 07:23:06

Help needed again please if any experienced bakers/icers are up and about!

I made the cake last night and put the butter cream in the fridge, as suggested, hoping to ice this morning before work but of course the butter cream is totally solid! (My fault - I should have expected this of course!) It's going to take an hour or so to come back to room temp isn't it? [Wimpers]

Any other tips/suggestions? Needed to get it done before work because cleaner coming this morning and don't want to destroy kitchen again before party!! (But may not have a choice.)

Also, despite washing the beater tool of my food processor several times, it is making black marks on the icing (I have obviously removed the areas affected). Has anyone else experienced this? Think I am going to have to re-beat by hand [wimpers again]

slackcabbage Wed 28-May-14 08:02:01

Bimping/panicking!! grin

slackcabbage Wed 28-May-14 08:05:36



TheWhispersOfTheGods Wed 28-May-14 08:24:13

Airing cupboard, or boiler to warm it quickly. Not sure why thd beaters are leaving marks, use a wooden spoon not a whisk when ita warmer.

poocatcherchampion Wed 28-May-14 08:26:28

Couple of secs in a microwave and stir?

Yes I used the same platter chopping board to ice and serve.

No idea re black bits is it wet drops? I've had that I think just stirred it in smile

Sorry bf so one handed but you need help!

poocatcherchampion Wed 28-May-14 08:27:23

You can do it!!!

slackcabbage Wed 28-May-14 08:35:48

Bless you all for coming to the rescue!!

(Especially when bfing!! grin)

Thank you so much for the advice and encouragement! (Much needed as panicking a bit this morning!)

Got to get to work sharpish too!

Thanks again!!!! (Walks purposefully into war zone kitchen bearing wooden spoon)

TheWhispersOfTheGods Wed 28-May-14 08:43:12

Less us know how it goes! smile

slackcabbage Wed 28-May-14 11:43:23

Phewww!! It's done!!!

Back now at lunch break (an hour ahead here) to thank you - the microwave trick worked a treat! If anyone wants to know in future - 5 seconds is about right - 10 seconds is too long and changes consistency of butter (fortunately had made a shed-load so it didn't matter).

Now just have to muster some energy for the party itself!!

Thanks again everyone! Apologies for making mahoosive mountain out of molehill but things were not looking good at 8.30am this morning!!!

newnameforanewstart Wed 28-May-14 15:38:56


As a ps, were the beaters steel? I have found that they DO leave marks sometimes particularly if icing is a light colour.

Hope the party goes well.

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