Cake Decorating Woes (Recipe – Millie’s White Wedding Cake)

A little under 8 years ago, I took a cake decorating class. It was my first foray into domestication after my first child was born. I was determined that as the perfect mom I was sure to be, all of my kids’ cakes would be extra special and decorated by me. Well, to do that, I needed to take a cake decorating class, of course!

Armed with just about every tip and tool and gadget you need to decorate a cake (because, you know… if you are going to pick up a hobby, you must own everything there is to own in association with it, right?) I went to my first class. The class was taught by a lady named Millie. Millie seemed 800 years old and had been decorating wedding cakes and party cakes professionally for 50 years. She was about as sweet as they come.

Cake decorating did not come easy for me. I even struggled with just getting the base frosting on the cake without getting crumbs in the frosting. Millie taught me well though, and I kept plugging through the class, bringing home cakes I wasn’t totally embarrassed to show everyone. Then, the final two classes came about and we set out to learn how to make roses and flowers. Patiently, Millie helped me, guiding me with each stroke of my tip… and with each completed flower, I looked down and would see a head of cabbage. Not a rose, not a flower… a giant head of cabbage. For the life of me, I could NOT master creating frosting flowers. I tried, Millie tried with me, and it just wasn’t happening. The things I were creating could barely even pass as a head of cabbage if I wanted to make some kind of produce related theme cake (and there is such a thing, if you were wondering)!

My cake decorating skills have not improved, at all. I can bake the cake, I can most certainly eat the cake, but I can not decorate the cake past slapping some frosting on and adding sprinkles. My kids don’t seem to mind. Thank goodness I’ve raised them to have low expectations of their mom 😉

Jacob’s 8th birthday was this past week and he asked for wedding cake cupcakes (aka the kind of cake we eat at weddings…white with white frosting). I gladly obliged, pulling out Millie’s recipe which is the best I’ve had. It does use a boxed cake mix but trust me on this one… you will be hard pressed to find a white cake with a better flavor or crumb.

Oh – and the picture above of the wrecked cupcake? You can find the back story on that on my Flickr page!

Millie’s White Wedding Cake

  • 2 (18 ounce) boxes white cake mix (Betty Crocker or Pillsbury)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 2/3 cups water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons real vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 8 large egg whites

Place all ingredients into a large mixing bowl and beat on medium speed for 3 minutes, until fully incorporated.

Pour into greased and floured cake pans or cupcake liners, filling each slightly over half full.

Lightly tap cake pans on counter to bring air bubbles to top.

Bake in preheated 325° F oven until cake tests done.

Baking time varies according to the size and depth of pans being used.

(For cupcakes, I bake at 325 for approximately 18 minutes… test with a toothpick to make sure though!)

I used this recipe on Recipezaar for the frosting – yum!

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  1. says

    I never took a class… want to, but I fear that I’m decorating challenged it might not improve in spite of a skilled teacher! Sprinkles and other goodies seem to please my boys as well… works for me!
    .-= patsy´s last blog ..10 in ’10 – Week 2 =-.

  2. says

    I love the back story on the photo! I hate it when my board falls over and I’m glad I’m not the only one. :) My cake baker friend (hobby, not job) swears by jazzed up box mixes. I have never been good at decorating. One year I baked Logan’s cake and she came over and we decorated it together. Another year I came up with the recipe and how I wanted it decorated and she did it for me because she just loves doing it. All I provided were the ingredients. Anyway, here is my friend’s blog of her cake photos.
    .-= Katie @ goodLife {eats}´s last blog ..Chicken with Tarragon-Mustard Sauce =-.

  3. says

    Wish I had a Millie around. She sounds like an angel – the best to learn from.

    Just the other day at a birthday luncheon for a friend a lady brought a cake that she jazzed up from a box mix too. Instead of eggs used pudding mix – I would never have known. It was good.

    Thanks for the sweet story and reminder that being perfect isn’t always the perfect solution.
    .-= Amy from She Wears Many Hats´s last blog ..Chicken and Rice is oh so nice. =-.

  4. says

    I took a cake decorating class when I was in college (at Michael’s… not a college elective. Though how cool would that be, like instead of a PE?). But roses and such are not my thing. I think I made one look reasonably like a flower back then but haven’t attempted since. Mostly I stick with easy stars and quasi-shells and serve the cakes to people who do not bake at all so they are always impressed :) (and for the record, some of the best cakes are doctored mixes… I make one strawberry cake that starts with a white cake mix that gets a lot of requests).
    .-= Patricia´s last blog ..ten in ‘10: week 1 =-.

  5. says

    Great story! I’m taking the series of Wilton cake decorating courses now (just started the 2nd level), but I’m pretty sure it’s not my forte. I like to call my baked goods “rustic” :) Still, it’s fun, and at least I’m learning how to use the tips for basic piping and stuff. I’m always on the lookout for classic/basic cake recipes to try out. Thanks for sharing!
    .-= Amy I.´s last blog ..Pad See Ew =-.

  6. says

    So sweet a story….made me dream when walk the aisle and have loads of kiddies someday,if im in europe or the US,i would love to go those sweet classes too,even if i cant do the flowers too,and if its someone as sweet as Millie having the class and maybe i’ll bump into u too…now that’ll be great!!!!!
    .-= sugar plum´s last blog ..RADDISH OF THE FIELDS…….. =-.

  7. says

    Your story makes me laugh! As I also have great visions of being a master cake decorator. I also took classes (during culinary school) have all the tips, even the cake turntable. Every several months I make a few pounds of icing, a couple of layer cakes and go to town. It’s always a fiasco… but I have fun!!
    .-= Julia´s last blog ..Fish Tacos in Paradise =-.

  8. says

    i’ve always been intimated by cake decoration. it takes me hours to just prepare for it, looking for ideas, getting the tools ready, fully understand the procedures…..cos afterall i didnt make 10 cakes to decorate. i couldnt afford one single failure.
    wish one day i would be able to take a class too.
    .-= lululu´s last blog ..Coconut Bread with Walnut =-.

  9. says

    Buah ha ha – your story is so funny. I took a cake deocrating class a few months ago, and I was the WORST in the class. There were ladies there who were taking the class for the THIRD time, it still baffles me why, and all they did was usurp us newbies. LOL on the cabbage rose….I barely managed to get the rose right myself.
    .-= Ann´s last blog ..Yellow Bell Pepper and Corn Rice =-.

  10. Lee says

    I’m wondering how many cake pans to prepare. This is a large amount, but I’ll bet it can be cut in half easily. I’m thinking using Yellow Cake Mix and whole eggs would make a killer yellow cake.

  11. says

    Just in time!! I love it. Our little man is turning 1 in a couple weeks and I need to get crackin on the cake ideas. Thanks for the recipes! Hope all is well.
    .-= Laura´s last blog ..Fall Salad =-.


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