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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)

I am dying to know how I can get the polka dot invitations for my daughter's party.

02.7.2009 | Unregistered CommenterMara

I adore the cake!! Just too cute :0)

Queen of Dreamsz

This is EPIC GENIUS. I wish I had read this last week, when my friend was coming up with ideas for making a cake for a cast party of The Vagina Monologues. I will be borrowing this idea in the future!

Beautiful cake! I love the colors. What do you use to make the icing colors so custom? Are you using special food coloring?

02.10.2009 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

This is amazing! How do you make the royal icing?

02.11.2009 | Unregistered CommenterAlison

Such a neat idea rather than possibly 'mess up' the cake directly. I think I can see using this technique on many items. Do you have a good royal icing recipe?

02.12.2009 | Unregistered CommenterEllen

Oh, how perfect! I love homemade cakes, but never have the organization/energy/will to make them myself. Your cake makes me want to try again!

02.16.2009 | Unregistered CommenterThao

I kept thinking when I saw this cake that your dots were somehow made of smashed starburst...which I think I saw on Angry Chicken one time....yes, upon researching, I did.


Still, love the idea of making them of frosting. So pretty!

02.25.2009 | Unregistered CommenterTIA

I love this idea. I have two birthdays, one after another: my husband's tomorrow, and mine the day after. I keep coming back to this post to remember "That cool thing with dots," which I plan on using on his cake--he's asked for a "yellow cake with white frosting." Pretty simple, and since we're having a family party for both our birthdays, these brilliant dots will jazz up the cake. So clever! Thanks to Design Mom for recommending your site--I now have it in my sidebar.

Also. I love recent post about the quilt...it is such a happy post, you can almost see the memories of the quilt. What a great story, and I'm happy to see that you don't just save the special things, but use them! We use our "fancy" glasses for regular 'ol tomato soup nights.

thanks for the tip. it worked great for creating icing embellishments for my little girl's "tiny two" birthday party! www.thecreativityroom.blogspot.com

04.23.2009 | Unregistered Commentermichelle

This turned out about ten times better than I ever expected! I did a homemade funfetti cake (white cake with sprinkles added to the batter), vanilla buttercream frosting and blue and green dots on top. It was a huge hit--so cute and playful, plus the royal icing dots added a fun new texture to the cake (almost like putting candy on top). I am looking forward to using this idea again with star and heart stencils!

05.24.2009 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

You can also use the hard candy discs that are used for molded chocolates- just melt them and stick them in a baggie with the corner cut off and pipe away! They come in all sorts of colors.

06.8.2009 | Unregistered CommenterB

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, my friend sent me every issue of Martha Stewart kids that she had in her possession. It has been 5 years and I still love flipping through those magazines and getting inspiration. I will definitely be making this cake. Thank you!

06.29.2009 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

I love this idea. So cute. I'm in my late teens and yet I want to make this cake for my birthday!

xoxo Isabella Clarisse xoxo

08.17.2009 | Unregistered CommenterIsabella Clarisse

This cake is too stinkin' cute!


12.28.2014 | Unregistered CommenterRoy Film


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