Cake Decorating Class, Weeks 3 and 4 & a Product Review of Dr. Oetker’s Vanilla Cake Mix

I was clicking along in cake decorating class, not having too much of a problem — until last week. We didn’t decorate anything, just practiced piping. Piping kicked my ass. I couldn’t do anything right. Reverse shell, writing letters, creating leaves: everything I touched turned out poorly.

Because we didn’t frost anything and I had done so poorly with piping, I had a ton of lemon buttercream leftover and a desire to do something attractive. So the next day, I baked two 9-inch vanilla cake rounds using Dr. Oetker’s Organics Vanilla Cake Mix. Blecch. Do NOT use this mix. The final product tastes just like cornbread which, while delicious, is not what you want to taste in a vanilla cake.

I frosted it anyway to practice, and my reverse shell got a bit better — not close to perfect, but good.

The cake, featuring reverse shell, shell, stars, and a weird mess on the top.

Closeup of the reverse shell border.

Closeup of the shell border.

It looks like a vanilla cake, but it tastes like cornbread. Cornbread with lemon buttercream.


At Tuesday’s class (the 4th out of 6), we created a spider cake for Halloween.

To create, stack two 5-inch cake rounds ontop of each other, sandwiching a layer of buttercream between them. On the top layer, trim a bit of the cake’s edge away to create a bevel. This will result in a rounded cake top.

The cake layer, before trimming.

After trimming.

Separate butter cream and, in separate bowl, tint orange and black, reserving a small bit of frosting for the whites of the eyes.

Score an “X” onto the top of the cake. Following the X, and starting at the bottom of the cake and working up, pipe “hair” onto the cake using a grass tip.

Using a pastry bag fitted with a coupler but not a tip, pipe eyes onto the cake. Using the black frosting and a small round decorating tip, pipe black dots onto the white eyeballs and a wavy mouth. For the legs, stick black licorice whips into the sides of the cake. If desired, attach legs to the cake board with a dab of frosting.

I used the same “stack and bevel” technique to create this pumpkin-shaped cake at home.

It’s not perfect, but I’m pretty happy with it. Plus, I got to play –effectively!– with the leaf tip.

Finally, I practiced shell borders, stars, and writing (still need more practice with that…) to create this cake.

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9 Comments on “Cake Decorating Class, Weeks 3 and 4 & a Product Review of Dr. Oetker’s Vanilla Cake Mix”

  1. October 26, 2006 at 12:24 pm #

    Looking good, especially on your “cornbread” cake 🙂

  2. October 26, 2006 at 2:33 pm #

    Laura, what a GREAT job. I am very impressed with your new talent!

  3. October 26, 2006 at 7:49 pm #

    I’m really impressed with that pumpkin cake piping.

  4. October 26, 2006 at 11:18 pm #

    That is lovely work. Your shells are very pretty. Too bad about the cornbread cake mix. Thanks for the heads up, next time I need a cake mix I’ll stick with the 99 cent store Pillsbury.

  5. October 27, 2006 at 8:35 am #

    I think they are beautiful! I especially love the furry spider!

  6. October 27, 2006 at 8:35 am #

    That looks like fun! Who do you get to eat all of these creations?

  7. October 27, 2006 at 10:19 am #

    I think they look especially wonderful and I am eagerly awaiting a slice! Have a good weekend!

  8. October 29, 2006 at 12:49 am #

    Your improving at the speed of light with your cake decorating, be VERY proud! =) I love seeing what you do in class each week and find myself contemplating taking a short course each time I see what you’ve concocted. Keep up the excellent work Laura, you’ll be a pro in no time!

  9. October 30, 2006 at 2:08 pm #

    They look lovely and I like the reverse shells but I’m afraid I couldn’t eat the hairy spider. It makes me think of Denny’sI use box cake mixes and throw in some extra cake flour, it makes it a little firmer and easier to decorate.

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