Baking a cake is a labor of love. It’s a sweet treat for the stomach and the soul, the perfect celebration for so many special occasions or a simple indulgence when in the mood. The question then remains of how to bake a cake and decorate it in order to have a confectionary delight that is the envy of all others. Go for simple or complex. It is all up to ability and willingness of the cook.

Take the Easy Way Out

The easiest approach for baking and decorating is to go with store-bought offerings. There is a host of cake mixes available, frostings, and every type of topping imaginable. For the person who is not baking savvy or does not have time for anything more involved, there is no shame in making a cake out of a box. Mixes can still be spiced up in many ways. Apple sauce is a healthy addition over oil, adding moisture and reducing fat. Another approach is to add a can of diet soda to any kind of cake mix. No eggs or oil are necessary. Credit is due to weightwatchers.com for this innovative idea. Any kind of diet soda can be added to any variety of cake mix. For example, a white cake with orange diet soda will make a great creamsicle cake. The beauty of this kind of cake is the fact that it really cuts the calories while still having a wonderful flavor and moisture. When it comes to the shape of the cake, there are many cake pans on the market, bundt cake pans, and circular pans that make it easy to build a layer cake. The pan that looks like a giant cupcake is great fun as well.

Frosting is really up to the preferences of the baker. Chocolate, vanilla, or cream cheese are standards. Whipped cream is also an excellent choice. Pick the fat-free variety for the healthiest offering that also has a nice flavor and is light. Add slices of fresh fruit to decorate, such as strawberries and blueberries. Sprinkles, candy, and frosting tubes can help even a novice to turn a cake into a beautiful masterpiece. A cake can be transformed into a barnyard scene or any type of animal with a bit of creativity. Another simple and fun idea for frosting is ice cream. If making a layer cake, set out any kind of ice cream until it is soft, apply to the middle layer, along with chocolate sauce and any other toppings, put on the top layer, and add more ice cream and toppings. Set the whole thing in the freezer until it firms up. This is wonderful in the summer or for a child’s birthday party.

Baking from Scratch

For the more daring and brave of heart, making a cake from scratch can be extremely satisfying. There may be an old, family recipe or a dream cake in a cookbook that is irresistible. Cooks.com provides a long list of cakes in which the baker needs to add all of the ingredients from beginning to end. One interesting recipe is for a Wacky Cake that is actually mixed in the pan. The ingredients aren’t too involved, including flour, cocoa, sugar, vanilla, baking soda, salt, vinegar, oil,and water or milk. It only takes about a half hour to bake and goes well with ice cream or cool whip. Blueberry cake is another cake from scratch offered at cooks.com. It includes blueberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, lemon juice, lemon rind, vanilla, milk, eggs, salt, flour, sugar, and butter. Baking times will vary based on the pan and the oven. This is an excellent brunch or breakfast cake.

Making frosting can be simple. There is one type that is mainly confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, milk and butter. An easy chocolate frosting can be made from chocolate chips and evaporated milk. Frosting can be quick or as complicated as the cook prefers. To add flair, it can be placed in a decorating tube with different tips to make designs. Remember that the sky is the limit. Add fresh flowers or figurines. See the following video for tips on creating a work of art while applying frosting:

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