DIY Cakes for the Non-Decorator
Did you know Cricut makes printer-like machines that will cut gumpaste decorations for you? I had some time on my hands during a recent trip to Asheville and found myself at Michael's. I noticed a display of small boxes with beautiful damask cakes on the front. They were decorating cartridges for cake decorating machines. Apparently I live in a cave because the Scrapbooking giant, Provo, has been making gumpaste and fondant cutters since January 2009. Basically, you can operate something as common and straightforward as a printer you can decorate a cake.
Image from Cricut.com
The skinny: Cricut has several cake cartridges that would be wonderful for weddings. There's Martha's line available on HSN. But there's also the Elegant Cakes cartridge that allows you to create elegant damask style cakes.
You insert the cartridge into the machine, load up a thin sheet of gumpaste, choose the design you want cut, and tada! You have cute and elaborate gumpaste designs for your cake. You can also use it to decorate cupcakes and cookies. You may want to DIY your cake and have matching cookie favors for your guests.
Image from MarthaStewart.com
The Price: These cake cutters are not cheap. The cutter itself costs around $400 from Provo, but you can find it on Amazon for around $300. A cartridge will run you $70, but you can use it again and again as you practice. Also, blog reviewers have had some difficulty with gumpaste sheets tearing, which totally sucks because the sheets are a whopping $18 for three 10X10 inch sheets.
DIY Damask Cake from CakeCentral.com
Hindsight Advice from a DIY Cake Girl
- Your love of cake baking and decorating should extend beyond wedding planning: The upside of baking your own wedding cake is you get to keep all of your equipment and bake cakes for years to come. But you really have to ask yourself if you are truly interested in baking cakes for years to come. All of those big cake pans and decorating equipment takes up lots of space, which can be annoying if you never use any of it.
- DIY cake baking is a labor of love, NOT a money-saving strategy. Even if you don't spring for the $400 cake decorating machine, unless you are already a professional baker, you will still spend plenty of money on practice cakes and equipment. Making 25-30 pounds of butter cream over a six month period adds up. Between equipment and ingredients for both practice cakes and the real thing, I spend nearly $500 for our wedding cake. Keep in mind I did not use fondant (which can be expensive if you buy premade fondant!). I could have bought a simple unadorned, white wedding cake from a professional baker and stuck my butterflies on for about half that amount of money and a fraction of the time.
- Practice, practice, practice: Just because you are using a machine does not mean you will be adept at handling gumpaste or even fondant. Remember that you will likely want to cover your cake in fondant to achieve that perfectly smooth look. Also, some reviewers complained about the limited gumpaste colors Cricut offered. If you are coloring your own gumpaste, you will need to experiment with how much gel color will allow you to achieve your look. Note: regular food coloring from the supermarket will not work.