80s cake for Colleen and Chris

80s cake

When Tracy came to me for a cake, she had a great idea: an 80s cake because her brother and sister-in-law grew up mostly in the 80s. She had some great ideas. She remembered her brother’s obsession with a Spud’s MacKenzie shirt that he wore down, Phan Jam, Michael Jackson, and more. But then we realized – we have to incorporate Colleen, too! The couple has a great history together ranging back to high school. When Tracy told her family of the cake, it evolved into something more.

80s cake collage

Here is a breakdown of all the decorations:

  • MTM moon man and flag: This went along with the original 80s theme.
  • Spuds MacKenzie: This party animal was a bit before my time. I had never heard of him. He was the dog for Bud Light back in the 80s. Like I said earlier, Chris wore his Spuds MacKenzie shirt down to threadbare, lol.  Here is Spud’s Wikipedia page if you are curious or confused or can’t remember: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spuds_MacKenzie.
  • 80s boom box and Pac Man: Went with the original 80s theme.
  • Tuff Crew’s “Phan Jam” album cover: Chris loved this group. I haven’t heard of them! He listened to it endlessly.
  • Cardinal O’Hara and Widener Logos: The couple met at COH and also went to college together at Widener.
  • Army flag: Chris was in the army.
  • Racing flag: I actually don’t know the story behind this besides one of them (or both) likes racing.
  • Soccer and basketballs: Colleen played these sports in school.
  • “Old Head”: In typical younger-sister fashion, this is an affectionate nickname that Tracy has for her brother.
  • Dave Matthews Band “Under the Table and Dreaming” album cover: Colleen is a big DMB fan! I put it near Phan Jam because I thought that would be a fitting design idea.
  • Florida with an engagement ring: This is my favorite part, which is why it’s front and center. And it’s so important. The couple got engaged in Florida!

So that is the story of this cake. I had so much to include and at first it seemed impossible. I tried to make everything as symmetrical and organized as I could because I didn’t want it to look too cluttered.

Notes about the cake process

FONDANT TROUBLES: When I made my vintage shoe cake, my fondant rolled out perfectly. It was cool and there was no humidity. But the weather is changing and we don’t have our air conditioner in yet. It was extremely difficult to get my cakes covered this time. I almost thought at one point that my cake was going to wind up on Cake Wrecks! But, thankfully, I managed to save it (I think!). I am glad I’m not covering any more cakes in fondant for a while. Though, soon we will have the air conditioner in and that will help.

BLACK ICING BORDER: When I have to make black buttercream, I start with chocolate buttercream and add Wilton black icing color until satisfied. I keep in mind that the color will deepen. And it didn’t taste horrible, either. Tasted like chocolate!

OTHER COLORS: The electric blue and electric green are Americolor. The black fondant is Wilton black fondant. The green fondant is my semi-homemade LMF fondant by Arisan Cake Company.

DECORATIONS: I made a collage of everything they wanted to include in Gimp (because I don’t have Photoshop and also because I have no idea how to use Photoshop). Then I ordered it through an ebay store that prints edible images. They were thick and relatively easy to work with. But while they are thick and seem durable, they are quite fragile and tear easily. Making the flags was a challenge because of the small tears. Here is a picture to give you an idea of how I made the decorations:

: 80s cake decorations

Here is the sketch when it was just an 80s theme cake:

80s cake sketch

And here is my second sketch, after it was more about the couple:

80s sketch 2

Hope you enjoyed a look into my process and the story behind this special cake! If you made it this far, thank you so much for reading! I appreciate it. Nichole

Vintage lace shoe cake part 1- The Preparations

Danielle's Cake 5.4.14

Getting to this finished cake, above, took a lot of planning and preparation! This is just part 1: my prep work.

My friend/cousin-in-law/one of my best customers is always coming up with new, challenging cakes for me to make for her events. This time, her sister is getting married! It is shower time! She decided to go with a vintage lace theme, and sent me a photo of a shoebox cake. As soon as she wanted a gumpaste shoe, I started doing my handy-dandy internet research and came across this handy post: How to Make a Gumpaste Shoe by Sugar Teachers.

My daughter and I headed to Michaels to see if we could find a styrofoam block, which isn’t what Sugar Teachers did, but I saw other posts about using styrofoam. My husband helped me to make it using a serrated knife. Then I played around with the template until it was just-right.


First I made the white part of the shoe, and decided to bring in the teal color from the invitation into the lining of the shoe. I couldn’t get the heel just-right, but figured it wouldn’t be seen too much anyway. I poked a hole in the bottom of the shoe so that I could put a toothpick in it later (so that it could sit securely on the cake when the time came).


Next, I made my gumpaste flowers. This I wasn’t worried about because I have made plenty of them before. Once, I had to make almost 40 gumpaste roses for a wedding cake. That was so time consuming! But making just two was not. I made my buds for all four flowers ahead of time on toothpicks and let them set up for a few days. I use the Wilton method of putting together flowers.


I sent Lea this sketch with my own ideas of how the cake should look like:


I told her about lace cake stenciling and found just the right one on Global Sugar Art.com: Victorian Crochet Stencil. I watched a bunch of videos and read a tutorial by Royal Bakery about how to stencil on the side of a cake. I wasn’t about to do this without practice the first time – especially not for such an important cake! After I got the stencil and cleaned it, I covered a cake pan with extra fondant and tested it out. I was able to learn for myself how thick or thin my royal icing should be.


After testing it out, I had my reservations on doing a rectangle cake and decided it should be a 10″ round cake. She wanted half-chocolate and half-vanilla, so I could easily do that with a 10″ cake. I prefer a recipe from King Arhur called “Golden Vanilla Cake” and my favorite chocolate cacke is Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake. But now I use a slightly modified version that uses a cup of coffee instead of a cup of water – it is delicious! See my post about how to make a half and half cake here.

I also made my Tappit letters and leaves out of gumpaste. After all my prep work was done, the cakes baked and in the freezer, all I could do was wait until it was time to put it together. I’ll tell you more about the very-last-minute stuff in a Part-2 post.

Nichole 🙂

How to make easy, homemade yellow cake

Baking isn’t always difficult, especially when it comes to cakes!

I have found that sometimes the simplest of recipes usually results in the most delicious cakes. I found this Golden Vanilla Cake on King Arthur Flour and was amazed how such a simple cake made such a moist, delicious cake that is perfect for any occasion. It is light, but dense enough that people often mistake it for a pound cake. But it has way less butter, sugar and flour than a pound cake, essentially saving you money and trouble in pairing down your huge pound cake recipe for your 8″ pans.


First, prepare your cake boards by greasing and flouring lightly.


Next, in your mixing bowl measure or weigh your flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. I prefer weighing for consistency purposes. I use an EatSmart scale that I found for $25 on amazon.com.


Get your eggs room temperature and your already-room temperature butter super soft by putting into a bowl of warm water.


Whisk all your ingredients together nicely. This incorporates air into your flour and ensures that everything is evenly incorporated.

P1080606 P1080607 P1080608 P1080610

Chop up your softened butter, throw it into the bowl and mix well, until it looks sandy. Give your bowl a scrape on all sides and at the bottom. It gets easier and easier from here!

P1080613 P1080614 P1080615 P1080616

Next, warm your milk in the microwave for forty seconds to a minute. Add your vanilla to your warmed milk and pour all at once into your mixer. Mix for about 30 seconds to a minute and do a good baker’s scrape.

P1080617 P1080618

After that, you want to add your eggs one at a time. Mix on a medium speed for about 30 seconds, give a scrape, then add your next egg. Repeat until all your eggs are incorporated and you’re DONE! Try not to taste the batter … but if you do, you’ll be surprised at how delicious it is!

P1080619 P1080620

Bake your cakes for about 35 minutes or until they’re golden brown, are pulling away from the edges and a toothpick in the center comes out clean.


To get a perfectly flat top to my cakes, I like to take a damp towel and lightly drape it over my pan and gently press down the dome. This has to be done immediately after the cake is taken out of the oven. Take care not to burn your precious hands!


After ten minutes or so, turn your cakes out onto wire racks. Look how beautiful and perfect they look! This is very exciting and rewarding stuff to me.

P1080623  P1080625

For my big custom cakes, I have to bake ahead of time and put it in the freezer. I know that sounds hokey, but it helps to lock in the moisture and makes the cake even easier to handle. After it has cooled slightly, I double wrap in Seran Wrap and then also wrap it in aluminum foil. The foil helps keep air out of the plastic wrap and avoid freezer burn.

NOTES: I have also successfully made this as a two-layer cake. You just have to bake it a bit longer. I have also made it in my 6″ pans and half of my Wilton ball pan. But then there is usually extra batter (which I use for cupcakes!).

To make it in a 10″ pan, put ALL six cups into the pan. Put a flower nail in the center. Bake at 325 degrees for about 55 minutes to an hour, depending on your oven.

Well, there you have it! To get the full recipe, go to King Arthur Flour.com: