Jul 25, 2013

Blue ombre White Cake, Gelatin bubbles and Buttercream Shells...

A birthday to me is never complete without a Cake. Maybe because that’s how I grew up celebrating my birthdays and there was always cake.  Last year for my lil’Appu’s b’day I made my first two tier cake with Fondant decorations. As the party was a Rainbow theme I wanted to make the popular seven colored rainbow Cake. But I refused to bake a cake filled with so much artificial color for a baby’s birthday! So finally baked up my most  favorite Chocolate Banana cake with Chocolate buttercream and it was a huge hit!!

But I have always wanted to try a colorful layer cake…so this time with the help and tips from few blogger friends, I decided to go for an Ombre cake – shades from dark tone to lighter tone of the same color. And I convinced myself that it was only a little bit of artificial color in each layer :-) 
Also I decided against doing a Tiered/ Fondant cake this time…Single tier cakes can look just as pretty and elegant and did you know, Buttercream is the new Fondant! :-P

Appu’s Second birthday was a Bubble theme, so I went  for a Blue-White Ombre effect. For the cake flavor I decided to try a White Cake recipe I found at Epicurious. I had initially planned to make Three 10” layers. But I felt for a 10” inch cake, the batter was less to be divided into three, so I double the cake batter recipe and divided them equally into four cake pans - to obtain three shades of blue and one white layer .

The blue colors were obtained by using Wilton’s Royal Blue icing gel mixed with the cake batter in different quantities. The White layer is the actual White cake itself and trust me it definitely does look White…

Now coming to the decoration, this is where I get all excited and a zillion ideas float through my head. A bubble themed party needed a bubble effect on the cake, right!! I had anyway decided to go for buttercream decoration and was still making up my mind on the pattern when I thought it would be nice to make Gelatin bubbles as toppers.

My initial plan was to make few Blue, White and Golden shaded balls in different sizes and keep them all around and on top of the cake (like floating bubbles) , but did I tell you I had cooked the entire dinner for the party myself (with parents to help ofcourse). So after a whole day of cooking, I was terribly exhausted and had almost dropped my plans of making these. But not willing to quit, after everyone went to bed (almost midnight), I decided to try to make a few gelatin balls atleast in one color and made these Blue ones in different sizes - I added a tiny bit of ‘Blue Luster Dust’ to the gelatin-water mix to get the blue balls.

The technique calls for blowing up small balloons (water balloons are best) in different sizes. The balloons are greased and then dipped in slightly bloomed, melted and colored gelatin until it coats the balloon nicely and left overnight to dry. Once hardened, just burst the balloon slowly from the end and you get nice colored gelatin bubbles. Sounds easy? But it was a hell of a task (mayb coz my brain was so dead tired) and I would say I somehow managed to hold my patience together :-)
The original technique called for propping up the gelatin coated balloons on lollipop sticks to dry, but I had cake pops planned for my lollipop sticks ;-), so I just waited for the gelatin to dry up a bit and tied up the balloon end on a string loop and hung them down my kitchen cupboard knobs overnight to harden ;-) !

Here’s a link to theoriginal technique if you ever wanna try. (These almost feel like plastic once hardened and it’s not edible, just so you know)

Next came the buttercream decoration.  I wasn’t sure what to do for a bubble effect and also to impart the ombre effect. I have loved the petal or fish scale like design that you’ll find all over the internet on many cakes. But I wanted it be different. So instead of buying a round tip, I bought a start tip (Wilton Tip# 199) to make the pattern around the cake, and it almost resembled Shells, so I’m calling it Shell pattern!

Getting the Shell Pattern is really so easy. I have explained it here in the easiest way that I can think of. ( I took random pics while frosting late at night, so the pics may not be the best but understandable nevertheless )

How to obtain Shell Pattern with Buttercream using Wilton Tip # 199

The first and foremost step is to make a good pipeable consistency Buttercream Frosting (neither too thick nor too thin)
I've used my Vanilla Buttercream recipe and made 3 batches of it  (1 batch for filling and crumb coating the cake, next 2 batches for final shell decoration)

Next important step after filling the layers with frosting and crumb coating the cake is to Refrigerate for 30mins

Then decorate as follows -

Step 1 : Add Frosting/Icing of desired color to piping bag(s) and attach the star tip securely. 
Step 2 : Take the piping bag with Icing of desired color and apply gentle pressure to release a drop (of required size) of the icing on the side of the cake.

Step 3 : Using a thin metal spatula or butter knife, gently wipe the frosting horizontally creating a depression in the centre and a tail of buttercream to the right. Clean the butterknife on a papertowel after each shell is made.

Step 4 : Again add a drop of the icing on the tail portion but close to the center depression(as shown in pic at Step 2)  and continue by wiping it horizontally until you finish the entire cake.
(Remember to Clean the butterknife/spatula on a papertowel after each shell is made)

 If using different shades of icing, change the Icing colors as desired for your decoration.

If you feel the buttercream frosting is getting thinner due to heat from our hands, refrigerate for 10 mins and continue.

Yes, it’s a bit time taking, but the end result is fabulous and I guess this cake almost has more than a 100 shells around it, don’t you think? ;-)

Here’s me doing the shell pattern :-) Pic taken by daddy and no matter how tired I am, I always have the patience and presence of mind to decorate a cake…It’s my absolute favorite part of any cake making!!

Before I stop rambling let me tell you, this White Cake recipe is a stunner. The flavor is huge and the texture is just perfect and color is very much WHITE. And I’m glad I decided to give it a try. 
The only things that bothered me was it uses only egg whites, 6 of them (what am I supposed to do with the leftover 6 egg yolks? ) and as I had doubled the cake recipe, I was left with 12 egg yolks *SIGH* !! We finally made scrambled egg yolks the next day to finish them off…Lol!

I was very adamant that everyone should get all the four ombre layers, so instead of cutting into wedges I cut the cake into thin slices so that it wasn’t too big to fill one’s tummy, but enough to enjoy a full slice with all 4 layers ;-)

‘White Cake’ 

Recipe source: Epicurious (taken from Cook’s Illutsrated)

You’ll need
Cake Flour- 2 ¼ cups
Milk (at room temperature) - 1 cup
Egg whites (at room temperature) - 6
Almond extract - 2 tsp  
Vanilla extract - 1 tsp
Granulated Sugar - 1 ¾  cups
Baking powder -  4 tsp
Unsalted Butter (softened but still cool) - 1½  sticks
Salt - 1 tsp  

1.  Pre-heat oven to 350F. Grease with butter and dust with flour two 9-inch cake pans.
2.  Make sure milk and eggs are room temperature.
3.  Pour milk, egg whites, and extracts into medium bowl and mix with fork until blended.
4.  Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed.
5.  Cut butter into small cubes and add. Continue beating on low for about 1-2 minutes.
6.  Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture to flour mixture and beat at medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat for another 1 minute.
7.  Pour batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans.
8.  Bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes.
9.  Allow cake to cool to room temperature and invert to a cooling rack until it reaches room tempertaure.
10.  Frost and decorate as desired

Modifications I made:
1. I used 10-inch cakes pans. I had doubled the cake recipe, and distributed the batter evenly into 4 cake pans.
2. My baking time for each cake layer was reduced to 21-23 minutes.
3. I used 2 tsp vanilla extract + 1 tsp milk (to replace the 2tsp almond extract + 1tsp vanilla extract) - too much vanilla extract will reduce the White color for the cake, so use less or use colorless Vanilla extract.
4. I always add only a pinch of salt in all my cakes – I hate salty cakes, even the slightest hint!

Lil’Appu now thinks any cake in front of him is meant to be cut by singing ‘Happy U uuuuu’ and as you see here, he again cuts his cake slice the next day and ate the whole thing too ;-)

I try to keep my posts short but I have so much to share…Lol!  And I don't know if I've missed out on anything, so if you have any questions feel free to Contact Me or come over to my Facebook page.

Up next on MED will be the gorgeous Cake Pops I made. So come back soon…



  1. The cake looks beautiful and very colorful....

  2. The cake looks beautiful and very colorful....

  3. Lovely cake here Manju and what patience you have!! My my!! But I guess all your efforts are worth it when you get those wide smiles and appriciations for it all! Lovely decorations too... for the party. and loved Manav's smile as always :)

  4. this is jsut pure awesomeness, Manju !!! saw the post whe u shared it at Ammachi's Adukala..and God ! u wud have taken ages to finish that frosting..each shell individually done !!!! no words !!!

  5. kudos to you girl..that is a gorgeous looking cake

  6. Wow.I read all your post word by word.Bookmarking it.Would love t recreate it for my son's birthday.Hats off.Happy to be your follower.

  7. Wau....!!!!!!!!!!!amazing.....ur kid z sooo sweet. lov d pics... :) Thanx for posting

  8. Manju,

    I couldn't wait for your post to see how you did it. Next time you should make a video :). I don't think I will ever have patience like you to decorate a cake like this even though I want to do it for my kids birthdays. Absolutely loved the shell design and the Ombre cake!!!! Great work!!! I am sure lil Appu will be proud to show the cake pics to his friends when he grow up!!!!

  9. wow i love this shell pattern! I think I will copy the idea for a cupcake version :P..hugs and kissed to the cutest birthday boy!

  10. woow....spr spr no words to say......

  11. I like to bake n love 2 decorate..but still did n`t get many chances to do..in the next month 4th My lit one is going 2 celebrate his 2nd birthday.so iam in plan to bake some thing spl vth attractive decoration..sum times feeling 2 drop back.but this post is very encouraging n hope i will do sum thing 4 my son..Very good job n useful cliks..cake luks so beautiful vth neat work...happy weekend Manju...:)

  12. cake looks fabulous..love the blue color and the decoration..nice write up...

  13. first, many many more happy returns to your tiny tot :) wow you've soooo much patience, loved your shell pattern ;) & bubble technique. i'm a just a home baker, will definitely try this cake & let you know how it turns out for me :) again KUDOS :)

    1. Hi Vinu,
      Thank you so much and I hope it comes out well for you :-)

  14. OMG....u r amazing manju...seriously,,u inspire me a lot...a mother of a energetic toddler,working full time at office ,tons of patience to organize things all by self....huhhhh...I seriously get the red bull kick when I read ur posts...way to go manju...excellent job...

    Thanks for the rely abt the bubble maker..shall look out for them this weekend...I'm sure it will brighten up my kids face....thank you...

  15. loved that perfectly sliced piece of Cake ....that Bubbles came out real perfect ..... I have one question : when the balloon’s are dried & when U poked them out , did it was tough to get them out from the shell ........ cos when I saw a video in Youtube , that lady was trying so hard to get it out .......

    1. Hi Suby,

      Like I've mentioned above, the balloons must be slightly greased (I sprayed canola oil on it) before making. Then it will easily come out. Don't over-grease also, then the gelatin won't stick to the balloon.


  16. Manju Kutty - kidilum cake.. to tell you the truth when you posted the birthday pictures on facebook i thought you had bought the cake from a bakery because the icing was sooooo perfectly done....I have never tried my hand at butter icing because I am scared it wont be neat. This cake looks extremely professional. Happy belated to dear appu...he sure looks very happy :)

  17. Thatz an amazing work Manju ....loved going through the pics.. :) shell pattern was a wonderful idea and gelatin balloons look awesome

  18. I'm literally dying over your cake decorating skills!!! Oh my god, those cute bubbles!!

  19. Manju, you are getting so good with decorating and styling cakes. It looks beautiful!

  20. You are talented, wow the piping work on the cake looks gorge..and your little one is too cute..
    One thing I dread, hate and suck at is cake decor and I know how much patience it takes..

  21. Wow Manju.. Am in love with this beautiful Ombre cake.. I have been wanting to make something since long but never gottu it.. Now with a 2 month old, dunno when its going to materialize!..

    Way to go.. :)

  22. i just didn't see this post on my reader and came through the link on your FB page... awesome... i really appreciate your patience in doing that lovely cake... and those bubbles on the cake is a lovely work... hats off to you, manju... too good...

  23. Couldn't resist dropping here again to see the cake..marvellous, again, got to say !!!Manju, i have got something for you . hop over to my space. 3 things, u get...2 awards and...a hug !!! ;) Have a great day ahead !

  24. are you serious?! so, u're the person who put up that ombre cake pic on HBG!! u've done it all so neat.. am so impressed with your work and more importantly, patience! I would have torn out my hair within the first ten minutes!! :)) love the colours.. even the cakes are so well levelled.. brilliant work!!

  25. wow such a great work... superbly done n it looks gorgeous...

  26. i enjoyed all the clicks.kudos to u r effort.

  27. One super gorgeous cake Manju, very neat and u are so good at piping the name too ;) hats off I am so loving this bubble theme, what a fun birthday for a cute little munchkin... he has the best smile in the whole world, muah

  28. you need one pat on the back for doing such a neat job at it.Hope the lil one enjoyed his mommy's beautiful cake.

  29. hi :)
    yumyyy cake....i have read the recipe of making balloons, is the shortening necessary?


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