Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Crafty Cakes - Part One

Love fancy cake shapes but not the cost of fancy-shaped cake pans? Lots of cakes can be formed with standard cake pans and a little “cut and paste” daring. You don’t need the training of those bakers on cable television shows to make a nice cake for your family or a get together. (In the interest of being able to fit into my clothes, I’m showing the shapes on paper, but I’ve done many cakes of this nature through the years.)

The key is in the relationship between the cake pan sizes. None of these directions are carved in stone. Feel free to play with the pans you have. If you’re working with a recipe that specifies one size of pan and you’re working with a different one, these tables may come in handy:

Cake Pan Size Conversions from

Pan Sizes and Volumes from

The cakes we’ll look at today begin with one square and one round pan. Do not level cakes until instructed. Some cakes may not require leveling at all. In most cases, you'll be working with a round pan with a diameter matching the side measurement of the square pan.


Let’s start with a heart shaped cake. With a square pan and a round one whose diameter matches the length of the square pan, you can create a heart quite easily. Bake a single layer of each or make it a layer cake, if you prefer.

Single layer cake:
Do not level the cakes. Cut the round layer in half across the diameter. Place the square layer on the serving surface with one point facing toward the bottom. Place the half-round layers against the two top edges of the square, cut side toward the square. Level the cake, if necessary, but a gently rounded top is okay. Frost and decorate.

Layer cake:

Assemble the first layer as above and level the cake. Spread with frosting or filling. Place the second layer atop the first. Level if necessary. Frost and decorate.

Egg or football cake:

Position the square layer on the surface with a flat side pointing to the bottom. Place the half-round layers at opposite ends of the square layer. Level the cake if necessary. Frost and decorate.

UPDATE: I wrote an article on making a football cake for a website assignment and they wanted actual photos, so..o..o..oClick here for the article and photos.

Butterfly cake:

Cut the square layer in half down the center. Place one half of the square layer (now a rectangle) on the serving surface. Place the half-rounds along the long sides of the rectangle, rounded side in. Cut a triangle from the remainder of the square layer for the head (or use a muffin). Frost and decorate. This is one time where a round pan with a larger diameter than the side measure of the square one will make a very nice show.

Ladybug cake:

This is a variation on the butterfly cake – put the points of the half-round at the upper corners of the rectangle and tilt slightly. Frost and decorate.

Muffin cakes:
Don’t overlook the possibility of assembling a fancy shape from cupcakes and then frosting them as a whole. This has the advantage of requiring no cutting to serve and the cupcakes can be eaten out-of-hand, without the need of a plate. Great for a crowd or where you want to have a variety of cake flavors.