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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. I see you’ve got The Pioneer Woman Cooks in your TBR stack, too. I’ve only made one of her recipes and now that we’re on diets, I’m not sure I should make anymore – at least not until we’ve lost a few of the pounds we gained over the holidays!
    .-= Les in NE´s last blog ..The Language of Threads =-.

  2. I think I found your blog through the Ten in 10 challenge b/c I was looking at the measly two members from KS. Well, now there’s 3 b/c I joined. I loved this blog–esp your “cabbage” roses. LOL! I still can’t make perfect roses, but I did take two classes and sell decorated cakes from time to time so I must not be that bad. I think the most important part of any dessert is the taste, and it sounds like you’ve got that covered! I absolutely LOVE this recipe and can’t wait to try it out. I mostly use box mixes for my wedding cakes b/c they are easy and dependable, but this sounds really wonderful and semi-homemade (ala Sandra Lee) so better than the mix by itself. Thanks so much for sharing!
    .-= Veronica M.´s last blog ..Buttermilk Ranch Dressing =-.

  3. Erin McMilon says:

    not cabbage – MUMS! How many/sizes of cakes does this make? Cupcakes? Can it be 1/2? From the looks if the ingredients, it looks like it will… just curious!
    Thanks for everything you share – I love it all!

  4. This sounds delicious! I can’t decorate anything, sprinkles is about all I can cope with. Yum, cupcakes!! I so want one now. (these are diet cupcakes, right??? )
    .-= Debbi´s last blog ..Carrot Cake Pancakes =-.

  5. LOL at the cupcake! I figured it was a kiddie accident. Who’d have thought the board would fall over? …though mine does that too from time to time…

    My only problem with this recipe is that I don’t have cake mix in Belgium. At least not that I’ve found…
    .-= Kate at Serendipity´s last blog ..SCALLOP VERRINES =-.

  6. I also took a cake decorating class and while we had great fun making a halloween cake… it is never going to be something I am good at! I just do not have the patience that some people do to make perfect little lines or perfect figurines or whatever… The cupcake looks delicious!
    .-= Simone (junglefrog)´s last blog ..Kitchen shoot =-.

  7. I’m totally with you on the cake decorating. Thank heavens for sprinkles!

  8. Loving your photo a day on flickr! Great photographs! And the cake sounds wonderful, but what did you do with all the extra yolks?
    .-= Mrs. L´s last blog ..Old and New Cooking Resolutions 2010 =-.

  9. Cake decorating did not come easy for me either! This cake sounds delish!
    .-= Melissa´s last blog ..Roasted Cauliflower Soup =-.

  10. I love how you came back from a “wreck” and shot that gorgeous pic, so creative of you! Now I want some wedding cake cupcakes!
    .-= LyB´s last blog ..Two Years!!! (Maple Hazelnut ButterTart Squares) =-.

  11. I was just thinking, “that is a really creative shot of the cupcake”. Sometimes accidental shots are the best ones. Nice save! And really great that the cleanup was so easy.
    .-= Nate´s last blog ..Leek and Potato Soup Recipe =-.

  12. Interesting idea to work outside the box with the box mix as a base. As for the decoration, when it comes down to it taste is all that really matters.
    .-= Jackie´s last blog ..Porcini Wild Rice =-.

  13. as long as your kids are happy with their cakes and treats, u should be happy :)
    .-= dani´s last blog ..#70) Dirty Bottoms =-.

  14. Your cupcakes were adorable, but I’m with you on the whole decorating thing. Personally, I don’t have enough patience to decorate cakes or cupcakes. To do it right, I’d need someone like Millie (or Martha) to hover over my shoulder. I do love to bake though … but I’m more of a cookie, quick bread, muffin kind of gal.
    .-= Liz´s last blog ..New Grant Brings Fruit & Vegetable Gardens to Schoolyards! =-.

  15. My baby turns one next week (YIKES!!) and I’m going to attempt to make her cake. And I think I’ll use this recipe!!
    .-= Deborah´s last blog ..Cookbook of the Month Recipe – Custard Cream and Ricotta Tart =-.

  16. Kristen, I just made this cake today for a retirement party- FABULOUS! It has fantastic flavor, very moist, terrific crumb, and rises perfectly even. I baked the batter in 2 -13×9 professional cake pans, filling each 2/3rds full. I do believe this will be my new “go to” recipe for white cake! Thanks so much for posting!

  17. smilinggreenmom says:

    This sounds wonderful! I am really wanting to make this using Kamut Khorasan Wheat flour too – awesome!!! Thanks so much :)

  18. Oh, my! I so relate! Those roses are impossible! I’d actually be happy with cabbages! Allie wants to take a fondant class- maybe she’ll be better than her mom
    xoxo Pattie
    .-= Pattie and Allie´s last blog ..Priest Stranglers and a Tiramisu Cheesecake =-.

  19. I just wanted to tell you, I have been SCOURING the internet looking for a wedding cake recipe. The “best” I could find was Betty Crocker’s Silver White cake. I tried my hand at that on Sunday Evening. It baked up white which was what I wanted, but the texture was like cornbread! BLEH!!
    So I set out again on a mission, and today I stumbled across your blog. I attempted Millie’s recipe this evening, and it was EVERYTHING a wedding cake is meant to be!!!! I am beside myself. Overcome with joy. The gates of cake heaven have opened up and trumpets arE….trumpeting….I think you get my point. Thank you SO much for sharing!!!!

  20. Amazing recipe
    great site you have here.
    when you get a chance come check us out we the fastest growing social network for cake decorators.


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