Fancy Cakes: Recipes and Pro Tips!


from Melanie Arculetta and Janelle Schuler from Sweet Sister’s Bakery

Cake Decorating

North Ogden resident Lana Spencer shows off one of her recent creations.

•If you are going to bake and decorate your own birthday cake, give yourself ample time. You can’t decorate a warm cake.
•If you’re making a layered cake, slice off the top rounded portion to make it level. Have the top layer be one of the cakes flipped upside down so it gives the top edge a nice finished edge.
•It takes a lot of practice to get a cake to look like how you visualize it. Be patient with yourself and give yourself ample time to frost and decorate. Melanie recommends doing it a day or two prior to when you plan to serve it. She bakes her cakes, freezes them, then frosts and decorates them. Freezing the cakes makes it easier to decorate, and it also keeps the cake moist and delicious.
•Frosting your cake, then refrigerating it, helps the frosting to set, which is very important if you plan on transferring it.

Cutting the Cake

Normally, people cut round cakes into wedges, but with a layered cake, those pieces can be quite large. You can serve more people with less mess using this tip: Cut the cake like a grid instead of a pie. Get a cutting board and stand it up next to the side of the cake. Slice the cake into a slab, tip it toward the board, and slowly lower the cutting board and the cake slab level with the table. At that point, cut the slab into the desired sizes and serve onto plates. Repeat this process with the rest of the cake. A 6-inch, 3-layer cake can comfortably serve 16 people, but it can serve as many as 30 for a child’s birthday.

Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Chocolate Frosting


3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 cups warm water (or brewed coffee)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups butter softened
8 oz cream cheese softened
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tsp. vanilla extract
7 cups powdered sugar
about 1/4 cup milk as needed


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly butter three 9-inch cake rounds. Dust with flour or cocoa powder and tap out the excess. Alternatively, you can lightly grease the pans and line with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a stand mixer using a low speed until combined.
  3. Add eggs, buttermilk, warm water, oil, and vanilla. Beat on a low speed until smooth. This should take just a couple of minutes. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl so that everything gets mixed in.
  4. Divide batter evenly amongst the three prepared pans, about 3 cups of batter per pan. Tap the cake pans gently on the counter to allow any bubbles to rise to the top and escape.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes in a 350 degree oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool on wire racks for 15 minutes and then remove the cakes from the pan and place on the wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Frost with your favorite frosting and enjoy!


  1. In a large bowl, use a hand mixer or stand mixer to beat together butter and cream cheese until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add in cocoa powder and vanilla extract. Beat until just combined, about 30 seconds.
  3. Beat in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Add milk as necessary to make a spreadable consistency. The frosting should be very thick and will thicken even more once refrigerated.
  4. Use frosting to frost and assemble cake, or transfer to a piping bag for decorating. Once frosted, this cake should be refrigerated, but can remain at room temperature for up to 4 hours.

French Vanilla Cake Mix


I like this cake recipe a lot because it’s easy but still tastes homemade. The recipe is great for wedding cakes. The cake stacks really well; it’s dense and moist. It’s just a great recipe and can be used with any cake flavor.

1 box vanilla cake mix (I prefer Betty Crocker)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
generous dash of salt
1 cup sour cream
1 cup water
3 whole eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 Tbsp. butter flavoring
1 tsp. almond flavoring

  1. Grease and flour 3 six-inch round cake pans.
  2. Mix together the cake mix, flour, salt and sugar, set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat together the sour cream, water, eggs, vanilla, butter & almond flavoring.
  4. Fold in the dry ingredients
  5. Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream


4 cups sugar
2 cups of egg whites
6 cups of butter
2 Tbsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tsp. of salt

  1. Measure sugar and egg whites in a metal bowl. Place over a double boiler on high heat.
  2. Whisk until temperature reaches 60-70 degrees Celsius. Remove from heat.
  3. Add salt and whisk on high speed until the mixture has completely cooled and medium to high peaks have formed.
  4. Add room temperature butter slowly and cream together. This recipe works well with a 6-quart KitchenAid bowl.

This recipe yields approximately 3 liters so feel free to adjust to your needs. Add a small amount of purple food color gel to turn buttercream white. This type of buttercream is not as sweet as American buttercream. You can add a few cups of sifted powdered sugar to sweeten it up.


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