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Help making mini cakes


CurlySue
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I want to start offering a different kind of mini cakes to my customers. I already provide "fancy" decorated, tiered minis but they're very expensive and I rarely get orders for them. I decided to try offering minis that are cut from a sheet cake then wrapped in acetate and frosted/decorated only on the top. It's hard to describe and I can't find any pictures and haven't done any samples yet, so please use your imagination.

I will of course try some samples and see how they go before officially offering them but I was hoping for some help with a few snags I foresee.

First, I'm not quite sure how to use the acetate. I bought these:

Acetate Strips

My intention is to split and fill a sheet cake, then use a round cutter I bought to cut individual servings from the sheet. Wrap the edges with acetate (to prevent drying) then fill the top with icing and top it with some sort of quick gumpaste flower or something. 1) How do I hold the ends of the acetate together? 2) Will wrapping the acetate around the cut cakes keep them moist for a day at least?

I really want to avoid icing the cut sides of the mini, hence the acetate wrap. If this isn't going to work though, I'm considering using the strips dipped in chocolate then wrapped around the mini, but only if the acetate alone doesn't do the job. Would this solution be the next best?

Any tips/ideas appreciated.

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with cupcakes being so popular now (see cupcake thread in this forum), i imagine this would be a good alternative. also, making cupcakes would be less wasteful than punching out rounds from a sheetcake. labor saving as well.

if you want to do acetate, you can always get some logo stickers made up to seal the ends around the cake. a lot of pastry places use glassine paper to cover the outsides of cut slices to prevent drying. that's another alternative, but you've already purchased the acetate - scratch that.

edited to add link:

cupcake thread

Edited by alanamoana (log)
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A spot of royal icing should hold the acetate in place nicely.... or chocolate - depending on whether you are using a yellow cake or chocolate. I think your idea will work... but you are going to have waste in between the circles, which I suppose you could give out as samples.

Don't waste your time or time will waste you - Muse

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Cowtown, eh? Where's your bakery?

What about lil' cake pans? You won't have the waste mentioned. Or use a rectangular cutter (the sort that fits around a springerle mold, or for petit fours) so that you don't have waste.

And why not "frost" the tops? I'm seeing something like a gingerbread with a poured glaze, dripping down the sides. But I see this won't work with the acetate strips, which is the point.

I have a slew of lil heart shaped pans that I want to be buried with.

I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

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I have a slew of lil heart shaped pans that I want to be buried with.

:laugh::laugh:

I LOVE cake pans and all things cake. I have oodles of little pans & stuff. But the object of the game for me is to need to wash as few dishes as possible. Too many dishes would send me to my grave! :raz: But I just cut my minis out of sheet cakes--but I cut mine out before I fill. Anyway~~

I have seen those towers of beautiful clever work like you are describing but I've never made any. It looks like they are using parchment and it looks like it's held together with a sticker of some kind. Umm, maybe Tepee knows. I'm pretty sure Judy and Hassreh have done these.

Edited by K8memphis (log)
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I use the acetate strips and I seal the ends together with a sticker with my logo on it, or with the bride's new monogram should she request that. Buuut.... these are only used for mousses, etc. I would't dare use them as a covering for flour based cake that has been cut because they WILL NOT seal the cake edges, air will get in there, and you'll just be serving people dry cake. :sad:

How mini are we talking here? 1" or 1.5" like a petit four? Or 3" or 4" diameter? Are you doing these as individual cakes that'll still be tiered like your earlier example or are these just part of a pastry platter and single tiers?

If we're talking the former size....dip them to coat.... if we're talking the latter size...there is a very easy way to buttercream your sides on a mini single tier cake....

Cut cake shouldn't be left exposed to air for more than an hour really because air is its enemy....I'm afraid you'll need to do the sides, even with a clear glaze, to ensure an exceptional product.

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...

My intention is to split and fill a sheet cake, then use a round cutter I bought to cut individual servings from the sheet.  Wrap the edges with acetate (to prevent drying) then fill the top with icing and top it with some sort of quick gumpaste flower or something.  1) How do I hold the ends of the acetate together? 2) Will wrapping the acetate around the cut cakes keep them moist for a day at least?

At work, we would wrap layer cakes with acetate when the sides weren't done (Boston cream pie for example). The held for a day when the top frosting was sealed to the acetate so there was no air leakage as Sugarella mentioned. But, for these cakes, the sides were not trimmed either. The light crust did provide some protection.

Cheryl, The Sweet Side
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...

If we're talking the former size....dip them to coat.... if we're talking the latter size...there is a very easy way to buttercream your sides on a mini single tier cake....

Sugarella, what is the easy way to do the sides of a 3 inch cake? I (unexperienced me) find it harder to do than a large cake. I'd love a lesson!

Cheryl, The Sweet Side
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Stickers... great idea! Thanks!

Regarding the waste vs cupcakes idea... this is all because I absolutely HATE doing cupcakes. Putting those stupid little papers in the tins... filling the papers with batter dripping all over the place, over fillling them and making a mess, tops over cooked or too high or too round. Ugh, I just despise doing cupcakes and refuse to do them. Maybe there are tricks and I could learn to hate them less, but I'm doubtful. Therefore, I'm OK with the waste as long as I don't have to deal with cupcakes.

I saw some totally awesome pans at online that are basically a bunch of little tiny molds all in one pan for doing minis Squires-Shop.com, but I don't know that I want to buy yet another pan for something that I'm not sure is going to be a big seller. I'd like to try this idea first and if it flies then maybe I'll look into the pans.

edited since I was posting while others were posting answers to my questions!

Edited by tan319 (log)
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I use the acetate strips and I seal the ends together with a sticker with my logo on it, or with the bride's new monogram should she request that.  Buuut.... these are only used for mousses, etc. I would't dare use them as a covering for flour based cake that has been cut because they WILL NOT seal the cake edges, air will get in there, and you'll just be serving people dry cake.  :sad:

How mini are we talking here? 1" or 1.5" like a petit four? Or 3" or 4" diameter? Are you doing these as individual cakes that'll still be tiered like your earlier example or are these just part of a pastry platter and single tiers?

If we're talking the former size....dip them to coat.... if we're talking the latter size...there is a very easy way to buttercream your sides on a mini single tier cake....

Cut cake shouldn't be left exposed to air for more than an hour really because air is its enemy....I'm afraid you'll need to do the sides, even with a clear glaze, to ensure an exceptional product.

Ah, thank you very much. That was my concern that the acetate wouldn't seal the cake completely and therefore leave it exposed to air and drying, making it inedible. I bought a 2.25" cutter, so that was going to be the size (2" tall with one layer of filling). They will be individual cakes, not tiered. :) I was probably going to offer them boxed in those little decorative acetate boxes. I'm sure the cut edges are going to be a pain for me. I should probably look into buying that pan in my previous post.

Ok, obviously I'm going to have to rethink this a bit then. I'd love to know what easy method there is to icing these tiny little buggers. If it's with that icing tip, that never seems to apply the icing close enough to the cake to seal it for me. I've had issues with the icing falling off of cakes when applied this way. Any thoughts on using the chocolate "wrap" instead?

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Y'know anything mini is a huge pia--irony of ironies huh?

Well, what I do is pipe the glaze onto the minis--I mean I do a pour over then I do touch ups with a piping bag. Works for me. Huge pain in the boo, minis are.

Hey, CurlySue, would using a big ice cream scoop help you with doing cupcakes???

I mean truly the idea of baking individual mini cakes in individual mini cake pans just makes my knees weak,,, cahhn't breathhhe...

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Sugarella, what is the easy way to do the sides of a 3 inch cake?  I (unexperienced me) find it harder to do than a large cake.  I'd love a lesson!

Ah, thank you very much.  That was my concern that the acetate wouldn't seal the cake completely and therefore leave it exposed to air and drying, making it inedible.  I bought a 2.25" cutter, so that was going to be the size (2" tall with one layer of filling).  They will be individual cakes, not tiered.  :)  I was probably going to offer them boxed in those little decorative acetate boxes.  I'm sure the cut edges are going to be a pain for me.  I should probably look into buying that pan in my previous post. 

Ok, obviously I'm going to have to rethink this a bit then.  I'd love to know what easy method there is to icing these tiny little buggers.  If it's with that icing tip, that never seems to apply the icing close enough to the cake to seal it for me.  I've had issues with the icing falling off of cakes when applied this way.  Any thoughts on using the chocolate "wrap" instead?

2.25" diameter x 2" high + filling? Are you sure you want them that tall? This is petit four sized but twice as tall. It's a great look but depending on the filling you use you'lll have little cake tops slipping and sliding all over the place while you're doing this! :biggrin: Make sure you torte and fill the whole sheet cake first, and make sure your filling is something that'll cling firmly to the cake. Something like a meringue buttercream or a ganache, applied slightly warm, will get into the nooks and crannies of the cake, then after you chill the whole thing it'll solidify and the 2 layers will be STUCK.... know what I mean? Make sure the filling you use isn't something slippy like a fruit puree that'll mostly just sit between the cake layers.

For the chocolate enrobing.... oh gosh I would not try to "wrap" something as tiny as these with anything like modelling chocolate. It'll be too small to do all that fumbling, and besides, you'll need something on the outsides of the cakes anyways to get your wrap to stick to it. Instead, if you're going to go the chocolate route, use a pourable ganache.

When I was referring to buttercreaming (hey - I invented a new verb! :smile: ) the sides of a small cake I wasn't referring to something this little in diameter.....for those I'd try to dip them from frozen or at least super chilled, or would pour something over them.

For a mini cake that's one tier and is about 3 or 4 inches in diameter, you can buttercream the sides quickly and easily. And no, not the icer tip. That stupid thing is useless as far as I'm concerned.

You'll need surgical gloves. Not those plastic food service gloves that are loose, but the latex gloves that fit tight. Place all of your minis on trays with enough space around them to ice the sides, same as if you were trying to ice them with a spatula.

Hold one cake down firmly on the top with the fingertips of your non-dominant hand. Using the index finger of your dominant hand, scoop enough buttercream for the side, hold your finger firmly and striaight against the cake side with the fingertip touching the tray, and run your finger around the cake 2 or 3 times (lifting your other hand here and there of course so you can actually go around) If you do it quick and sort of "pivot" your finger at the last second before lifting it from the cake you'll end up with smooth sides all the way around. If excess buttercream gets all over the tray touching the cake, leave it alone and clean it up later, or you'll just end up smudging everything. Do the sides only, then chill the whole tray so the sides are firm.. (This is easier than trying to pick them up with fresh buttercream on them.)

Once chilled, use a spatula to run around the perimeter of the bases of the cakes to cut and remove the excess buttercream on the tray. So now you should have perfect sides..... then use an offset spatula to cover the tops in one sweep.

This only works with little cakes that are 2" high or so or the same length as your finger, otherwise you'll just end up leaving finger marks on the sides. I wish I could demo with pictures but I hope it makes sense. Hollar if it doesn't. It sounds tricky but you'll get the hang of it quick and you can easily do hundreds like this pretty quick.

Oh.... and your link to the pans didn't work for me but I think I know what you're talking about. If you're going to invest in pans for minis that are about 2" diameter see if you can get the removable bottomed ones.... you WILL use them..... great for all sorts of mini pastries and mini cheesecakes are so much easier with those pans.

Edited to add: I ditto your sentiment about cupcakes..... I won't do them either. Weddings are modern society's last bastion of chivalry, class, and formality. There is no other occasion left where it's still standard practice to send an invitation, or write a hand-written thank you, for example. Weddings are special in our lives, and they should be treated as such. Cupcakes at weddings say "Hi.... we're rednecks....can you tell?" :biggrin:

Edited by Sugarella (log)
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Hey, CurlySue, would using a big ice cream scoop help you with doing cupcakes???

Try a measuring cup. Either 1/3 or 1/4. It's especially good for more liquid mixtures.

Oh and make sure they are metal ones. The plastic ones are terrible for this.

Edited by miladyinsanity (log)

May

Totally More-ish: The New and Improved Foodblog

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Sugarella, you are a wealth of information! Thank You!

I fixed the link to the pans in my original post, sorry about that. I may go ahead and order that pan, if they'll ship to the US. I've spent so much money on cake stuff over the years, what's a little more.

I will keep all your tips/hints/warnings in mind and do some playing this weekend and see what I come up with. I'll post if it's anything good. Thanks again everyone!

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Hold one cake down firmly on the top with the fingertips of your non-dominant hand. Using the index finger of your dominant hand, scoop enough buttercream for the side, hold your finger firmly and striaight against the cake side with the fingertip touching the tray, and run your finger around the cake 2 or 3 times (lifting your other hand here and there of course so you can actually go around) If you do it quick and sort of "pivot" your finger at the last second before lifting it from the cake you'll end up with smooth sides all the way around. If excess buttercream gets all over the tray touching the cake, leave it alone and clean it up later, or you'll just end up smudging everything. Do the sides only, then chill the whole tray so the sides are firm.. (This is easier than trying to pick them up with fresh buttercream on them.)

That's brilliant. I've been icing individual cakes with a small offset spatula. When Passover is over, and I'm ready to fill the showcase again I'm trying this! thanks.

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Hold one cake down firmly on the top with the fingertips of your non-dominant hand. Using the index finger of your dominant hand, scoop enough buttercream for the side, hold your finger firmly and striaight against the cake side with the fingertip touching the tray, and run your finger around the cake 2 or 3 times (lifting your other hand here and there of course so you can actually go around) If you do it quick and sort of "pivot" your finger at the last second before lifting it from the cake you'll end up with smooth sides all the way around. If excess buttercream gets all over the tray touching the cake, leave it alone and clean it up later, or you'll just end up smudging everything. Do the sides only, then chill the whole tray so the sides are firm.. (This is easier than trying to pick them up with fresh buttercream on them.)

That's brilliant. I've been icing individual cakes with a small offset spatula. When Passover is over, and I'm ready to fill the showcase again I'm trying this! thanks.

I second that! I was doing these silly ring ding looking things, and I think the finger method (hey, can I say I'm giving little cakes the finger? :raz: ) would have left me with less buttercream on my hands than the offset.

Cheryl, The Sweet Side
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I love cupcakes. I like making them and I like eating them. Cupcakes are fun and they make people happy. Whether simply or elaborately decorated, they are inviting and make people smile. A cupcake is a portable party for one, and even better when you bring some for friends. Cupcakes can make you feel like a kid again, and we all need to feed our inner child sometimes. :smile:

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another way to ice small cakes if you don't mind coconut or sprinkles or fine chopped nuts is to thickly cover the bottom of a 1/4 or 1/2 sheet pan with coconut or sprinkles, then use a large rose tip or that icing tip to pipe out a line of icing the length of the measurment around your cake. make sure the width of the line of icing is similar to the height of your cake, you can do as many lines of icing on the pan as you have room for, just leave some space between them. then take your chilled or frozen cakes and set the side down on the end of the icing and gently press down as you roll it over the icing. it should stick to the cake with a layer of coconut or sprinkles on the outside. then you just ice the top with a star tip in a nice pattern.

check out my baking and pastry books at the Pastrymama1 shop on www.Half.ebay.com

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I love cupcakes. I like making them and I like eating them. Cupcakes are fun and they make people happy. Whether simply or elaborately decorated, they are inviting and make people smile. A cupcake is a portable party for one, and even better when you bring some for friends. Cupcakes can make you feel like a kid again, and we all need to feed our inner child sometimes.  :smile:

Greenbean, I love your cupcake mission statement!

:wub:

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Another way to do the minis is to build them in a stainless steel ring. Ice the inside of the ring with buttercream and place layers (cut slightly smaller than the diameter of the ring) and filling inside. Top it with more buttercream and use a spatula to scrape it smooth. Refrigerate or better yet freeze the cake until the buttercream is hardened. To remove the ring warm it slightly with a blowtorch and slip it off. Presto! Perfectly symmetrical ice mini cake!

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I did some testing this weekend and found a method I think will work ok for me. I melted some chocolate with a little corn syrup (in hopes of making the chocolate less hard) and dipped the acetate strips in the chocolate.... wrapped the strips around the cut cake and froze quickly. After a few minutes I took them out and let them sit. The acetate peeled right off leaving a perfect chocolate wrap around the mini. I let them sit for a day and tested them the next day and they were still moist so the chocolate seals them well it seems.

I'm going to sell them with the acetate still on, and then wrap ribbon around the acetate to decorate. Thanks everyone for all the help!!

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I did some testing this weekend and found a method I think will work ok for me.  I melted some chocolate with a little corn syrup (in hopes of making the chocolate less hard) and dipped the acetate strips in the chocolate.... wrapped the strips around the cut cake and froze quickly.  After a few minutes I took them out and let them sit.  The acetate peeled right off leaving a perfect chocolate wrap around the mini.  I let them sit for a day and tested them the next day and they were still moist so the chocolate seals them well it seems. 

I'm going to sell them with the acetate still on, and then wrap ribbon around the acetate to decorate.  Thanks everyone for all the help!!

Sounds like a great solution -- can't wait to see picture! :wink:

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We do mini cakes by using large size muffin tins. When cool we cut off the rounded top about a 1/4 inch just to level it out. then we stand it on its head and frost all over. Then we embellish the tops with a complimenting topper like candied orange slices, fresh strawberries, chocolate curls, etc.

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."
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  • 1 month later...

Well, I just wanted to update for anyone that was interested. Today was the day my customer picked up this order. I was VERY happy with the way these ended up, although I undercharged. I knew I would though and told her she was getting a deal for being my guinea pig customer. She was happy and so am I now that I know exactly how to do these in the future. Thanks to everyone for their tips and input.

I baked 9" square, 2" high cakes and used a cutter to cut out each cake. I then split and filled each one individually (not sure why I did that, should have probably split and filled the whole cake before cutting). I melted white and dark chocolate mixed with a little corn syrup (hopefully to keep the chocolate a little softer) then dipped the acetate sheets in the chocolate and wrapped them around the cakes. When they were all wrapped I topped them with icing.

Each cake was decorated with ribbon on top of the acetate, then elastic cord wrapped around that and an individual candy pacifier on top. The guests will just have to take off the cord, ribbon and acetate and the chocolate wrap will remain. The bases were sugar cookies and the cakes were attached to the cookies with chocolate.

I have no idea how much these cost me to make. There was a ton of waste from the sheets I used to cut these out of. Then of course there was the labor. After I got rolling they got easier but they were still a bit of a pain, especially the candy pacifiers!! I'm thinking $6 each, should I ever sell these again in the future. Anyway, there were 36 total and here are the pics! (edited to fix pictures)

gallery_27112_2909_3285.jpg

gallery_27112_2909_30390.jpg

gallery_27112_2909_20805.jpg

Edited by CurlySue (log)
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