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making a dot cake

Many of you have asked, and since it is a cool little trick, I'll tell you the secret to my dot cake. I picked up this tip while working on a polka dot birthday party for Martha Stewart Kids (see the cupcake image above, shot by Gentl and Hyers) It's still one of my favorite stories.. and the inspiration for Bee's party tomorrow.

Instead of piping directly onto the cupcakes, our food editor piped royal icing onto parchment paper and let it harden. After letting it sit overnight, you can pick up the dots and place them wherever you like. Great for people like me who get nervous piping! I've used this for numbers and letters too... in fact we made monogrammed cupcakes for my sister's wedding using this technique.

Make a batch of royal icing and match the colors of your party as well as you can. Mixing colors is kind of an art in itself, and one I certainly have not mastered. My advice is to start slow, it's easy to add more color, but impossible to go backwards. I picked three colors from Bee's invitation: orange, peachy pink, and a brighter salmon pink. Scoop the icing into a piping bag and using a small round tip, pipe dots of different sizes onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

You can see that mine are not perfect circles.. my icing was a bit on the runny side. Next time I'll go a little thicker. Leave them overnight to harden and then carefully pick them up with a thin spatula and place them wherever you like on your cake. I made Bee's white cake with two 6" layers.. I love the proportions of a 6" cake, taller but with thicker layers than a standard layer cake, it's a perfect kid-sized cake. Frost with your favorite frosting and add your dots where you see fit. I try to serve the cake in the next hour or so. (Leave the cake out at room temperature.. I'm not sure, but I think if you put it in the fridge overnight, the color on the dots might run). 

I made a large batch of dots. Half were used on the cake for our family party and the rest will be used for cupcakes at her friend party tomorrow. Speaking of, I better get baking! I've got cupcakes to make and mobiles to hang!

I almost forgot to point out the coolest part of this trick: If you are piping letters or numbers and your piping skills could use a little improvement, print out the letters on a sheet of paper and slide it under the parchment sheet.. it will serve as a guide for you to follow with your piping bag. And if you mess up, just start over again!

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Reader Comments (40)

fabulous idea. thanks for sharing!

01.28.2009 | Unregistered CommenterErin

Thank you sooo much for sharing your trick. I love it and plan on using it next month for the beginning of "birthday season" at our house.!

01.28.2009 | Unregistered CommenterErin

Fabulous! Thank you!! No bdays until August but it's always best to get the ideas rolling! Not normal for me but it sure does sound good! :o)

01.28.2009 | Unregistered CommenterSara

Thank you so very much for that tutorial. I think I could actually do this! I can't wait for an excuse to try this.... consider it bookmarked!

fantastic tip. thank you!

and for the great templates too - what a treat!

01.28.2009 | Unregistered Commenteremily

Just found your blog and have enjoyed all the things you have shared here....I thought this cake was adorable when you first posted it....and am glad you told how to do it :)

01.28.2009 | Unregistered Commenterdebi

i want it to be someone's birthday so i can make a cake like bee's! so cute!!

01.28.2009 | Unregistered Commenterjen

I love your polka dot party idea. Another great tip if you are piping tiny dots and you can't pipe without the little hat at the end sticking up...... use a slightly damp paint brush to push the tip of the royal icing down. It works a treat.
I love the cupcake image you posted. I had a customer send me that image for her sons birthday cupcakes as inspiration - and this is what i came up with.... http://thecupcakecompany.blogspot.com/2008/12/happy-6th-birthday-harry.html

01.29.2009 | Unregistered CommenterSharnel

thanks for the tips. your site is full of them and i am enjoying reading them.

01.29.2009 | Unregistered CommenterMefi

cool! Thanks for sharing! I know my daughter would love this polka dot cake!

01.29.2009 | Unregistered Commentertanya

Brilliant! I always love to see a new post pop up in my reader from you! I love this blog!

Happy Birthday Bee! She is so beautiful and sweet. Her birthday cake is beautiful and looks extremely yummy! Thanks for sharing...hope to duplicate it one day.

01.29.2009 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie

This cake is so pretty. I love how light and simple it is.

I also noticed that you post a bit on here about children's books. I collect children's books and posted about one the other day : http://notesfromdionne.blogspot.com/2009/01/books-fabric.html

01.29.2009 | Unregistered CommenterDionne C

Brilliant. I'm so drawn to circles - and this is versatile enough for any occasion!

01.29.2009 | Unregistered CommenterGina

oh so clever! thanks for all the fabulous tips . . . so happy to have two little girls who will benefit from your ideas!

01.29.2009 | Unregistered CommenterLucinda

How adorable! We don't have a birthday around here until April- so I think I might make one with various shades of pink and red dots for Valentine's day

01.29.2009 | Unregistered CommenterJen

I love this idea.. and I also have a daughter called "bee" I am so glad I found your blog you have great ideas and inspiration

01.30.2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Much thanks....I like a little irregularity, much more real....post a picture of the cupcakes when you get them done. Have fun, fun.

01.30.2009 | Unregistered CommenterNancy O.

Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge. I love getting tips from the pros!

i love your blog!

02.3.2009 | Unregistered Commenterpam

f***ing fantastic! sorry for the profanity, but i am excited!!! love this!!!

02.4.2009 | Unregistered Commenterdrollgirl

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