Tie Dye Cake Adventures


Photography by: Jechmate Photography

Here’s the thing. I absolutely love to try new crafts. As long as it is creative and sounds useful or fun, I am down to try anything. Especially if it is “advertised” as easy enough for anyone. In those cases I’m even more tempted to try! However, I am not always an expert. Not everything I try is going to be perfect, especially in the cooking and baking realm.

Point is, I won’t sugarcoat things for you. (Pun intended.) Some crafts are really NOT just 15 minutes and some are not “easy enough for anyone,” especially on your first attempt. I will give you an honest review on the difficulty level of each craft, a usefulness and/or fun rating, and of course advise on the mistakes to avoid and how to fix any mistakes you may make despite your best efforts.  So, let’s get this show on the road with the first craft tutorial on this blog!

I’m visiting family this weekend for Labor Day. We’ve got 15 people together and it’s a blast. 😊 my cousin Xave is a whiz kid with crafts, so when he suggested we make a tie dye rainbow cake this weekend, it sounded like the best idea since our Black Forest cherry smores (for a later post). So we jumped on it! We went to the tiny grocery store in town and bought all of the powdered sugar and marshmallows our hearts desired. We watched YouTube tutorials on how to make marble frosting and went through Pinterest recipes and thought we had a good grasp on the whole thing. We put on our imaginary chef hats and got to work.

Turns out we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We spent a total of 7 hours (with a few breaks in between) trying to salvage the cake we had worked so hard to make magical. In the end we had to cover all of the mistakes with a simple solution, but we still had fun getting our hands dirty, creating some very abstract art and then fixing it into a beautiful work of art (or so we like to think.)

Although we certainly didn’t create the image we started with in our heads, I loved the bonding and teamwork we built together and the tenacity we built into our character to NEVER give up, even when our whole bodies (and brains) wanted to give up.

Luckily you will not have to read 7 hours worth of words because I’ll sum up the whole journey for you.

We first did a tie dye cake, which was a very easy technique (as promised) with pouring colors on top of each other in the pan and then dragging the colors into each other to create the right effect. (Find the recipe below for more details.) we found a great recipe originally by Realitydaydream.com that helped us a ton.

After we had two cakes ready to go and be stacked, we set to making the fondant icing tie dye marble. That was the hope anyway. We read a couple of recipes for fondant that included marshmallows. We first spent time separating the colored and flavored (like citrus flavors such as strawberry, orange, lemon and lime) marshmallows we bought, thinking that it would be easy to dye them because they already have been dyed a little bit. Plus we thought it would be a fun surprise with the taste since everything else was vanilla.

Sadly, when we attempted to make fondant icing with said marshmallows, they never got to a nice dough-like consistency that you could roll and manipulate. They just stuck to our hands like glue no matter how much powdered sugar we poured on it. So Nevermind! Onto Plan B.

We found a recipe for fondant icing that does not need marshmallows. This was the way I remembered doing it on the golf green cupcakes (coming soon to the blog) anyway, so I was confident this method would work. We simply mixed powdered sugar, butter and a little water, adding as much powdered sugar as necessary until it was the right consistency. Yay! We thought we had finally done something right. We played with the dough and dyed it colors by dropping food coloring into a pressed divot into the dough and then kneaded the dye through until it was the color that we wanted. (Warning: your hands will be dyed blue or green or red, but it will come off after a couple washes.)

Our first mistake was leaving the dough on the counter for 10 minutes as we made a thin vanilla icing to coat the cakes to glue them together and to the fondant. Don’t delay on the next step for the dough because it will dry out!

This icing was out of a box as well, but I would really recommend just buying some frosting to coat the cake lightly with as “glue.” We just had to whisk it quickly with water. We coated the cake with it all around and then moved over back to the fondant.

We had pink, green, purple, yellow, blue and white as colors of dough. Looking back I wish we had done more red instead of pink (because we weren’t going for a pastel Easter look) and orange instead of white. It was supposed to be tie dye rainbow after all!

We then rolled each dough out into “sticks.” Then we put all of the sticks together laying on the cutting board in the color order that we desired.

Next, we smushed all of the sticks together and tried to twist the whole bunch around each other a few times. Unfortunately with fondant icing, one drop too many means that your dough is sticky and gloppy. One drop not enough, it all falls apart and becomes flaky and cracked. The latter is sadly what happened to us.

After we twisted it (putting together the pieces that kept falling off), folded it and twisted it again as best we could, we rolled it into a ball as we saw on the beautiful tutorial here. Then we used a rolling pin to flatten the ball out, which should look like a beautiful marbled circle.

Advice: if attempting this difficult method, my first advise is to buy fondant that will be the perfect consistency. If you attempt to make it from scratch (which of course is much cheaper) you need to cover the surface with lots of powdered sugar so that it will not stick. We were worried that it would hurt the vibrancy of the colors, but it is worth it compared to cracks in the icing and pieces of the icing sticking to the surface and ripping it apart. It’s worth it, trust me! Also cover your rolling pin in powdered sugar, and anything that will touch the icing at all.

Hopefully yours will turn into a beautiful circle that is ready to be placed on your cake. After putting a thick layer of plain icing between both cakes and stacking them on top of each other, spread a thin layer all over the outside of the cake to act as a glue.

Now you’re ready to place your fondant on top of the cake. We didn’t make enough to make our circle large so that it would cover the entire cake (sides included) but with the recipe I put below, you should have more than enough. After it is draping off the sides, you can cut around the bottom so that it fits snugly around the bottom and stops at the plate.

Sadly, ours wasn’t big enough and cracked so badly that we had to put one piece of icing on at a time and try to repair the cracks with water and sugar. It helped, but it still didn’t look the way we wanted it to.

Plan C: We tried painting it better colors as well because we wanted them more rainbow to go with the inside of the cake, but it just wasn’t looking right. Now for the heartbreak: we admitted that it just wasn’t salvageable and threw it in the trash. I don’t know about you but that is one of the most painful parts of crafting. I don’t like wasting anything, let alone something that took me hours on end.

To lessen the pain, we quickly moved on to Plan D. We had a tub of chocolate frosting, and quickly covered the whole cake until it was close to the right shape and looked beautiful. The last addition was just luck that we happened to have it on hand, but you have the luxury of planning in advance for it if you like the look! (After all, people do eat with their eyes, so you may as well make it look as good as possible.)

We cut the stems off of 20ish strawberries, washed them of course, and then lined them around the top of the cake, close to the edge. Because we wanted some kind of rainbow effect, we made a circle of blueberries almost touching the strawberries. (Note: the closer that you put these fruits to each other, the more colorful and presentable it looks.) Lastly, cut a fresh peach into thin and long slices, cut the peal off, and line them up into a circle inside of your blueberry circle. To finish it off, place a pretty strawberry in the middle! Voila!

So there you have it. It was a bumpy road and certainly wasn’t perfect. But a large part of the artistry in cake making, or any craft for that matter, is learning how to learn from and cover up your mistakes until you have something presentable in the end. Some projects will not be simple. They may even be frustrating and heart breaking. But nothing outweighs the smile you put on someone’s face when you hand them a gift you made with your own two hands, because they can see that you also included your heart and soul.

Feel free to use one or more of these recipes on your own cake and let me know if it went smoother for you! You know what they say, why make your own mistakes when you can learn from someone else’s? And if in the end you just can’t figure it out, just laugh at yourself and post it as a #pinterestfail.

So let me know in the comments– what’s your best Pinterest fail story?


DIY Tie Dye Cake

What you’all need:

Cake Recipe

2 White vanilla cake mixes (boxed)

Food coloring (at least 4 colors)

6 eggs

Vegetable oil (or avocado oil, similar substitute) 2/3 cup (or just find amount on cake box recipe and double it

Circle cake pan (i recommend two 9″ circle pans)

6 medium bowls and a spoon for each

Prep time: 15 mins

Bake time: 25 minutes (directions on cake box)

Difficulty level: 3/10

Fun level: 7/10
Fondant Icing Recipe

3 cups powdered sugar

3 tbsp butter or shortening

3 tbsp water or milk

Food coloring

6 bowls and a spoon for each

Difficulty rating: 12/10
“Cover up mistakes” icing recipe

One can chocolate frosting (or your flavor or choice)

13-15 strawberries

50-60 blueberries

Half a fresh peach
Directions for Tie Dye Cake:

1. Mix all white cake mix (2 boxes), 6 eggs and vegetable oil in large bowl until all lumps are gone and it is smooth.

2. Separate cake mix into 6 different bowls. Make each bowl of cake mix a different color using food dye. Try 2 drops of food coloring, mix it well and see if you like the color. Then try two more until it’s to your liking.

Advice: make six different colors that are vibrant, bright and fun. If you leave the colors kind of light, it will look like an Easter pastel. If that is what you are going for, or you want to fit the theme of a party with only two or three colors, that is fine because it is customizable. Just make sure the colors are even more vibrant than you expect because one they are baked they will lighten.

Also, avoid purple as it just looks too dark once baked. Instead I recommend a night orange if going for a rainbow effect like we will.

3. Pour the first color into one of your two pans in the center so that it creeps out slowly into a circle in the middle.

4. Pour the second color (I recommend a very different color so that they will stand out better later, i.e. Green and then red and then yellow and then blue) into the center of the other color and watch them make rings around each other, like a bullseye. Know need to move the bowl very much, it will disappate all over the pan on its own.

5. Continue pouring a new color into the center of the last color until you have used all of your colors and they are a bunch of rings in the pan.

5. Now it’s time to create your tie dye effect. Taking a knife, start at the center of the cake and drag it to the outside of the pan, dragging the top color all the way through the others. Do this over and again all around the cake in a circle, probably six times. Act as if you are cutting a circle cake into 6-8 pieces.

6. Now do the opposite direction in between all of your lines. Start from the outside of the pan and drag your knife through to the center so that the outside color will drag to the middle. It will look sort of like a flower once you’re all done, and everyone will be impressed. After such an easy step!

7. For the second cake, do steps 3-6 but in the opposite color order of the first cake. (It looks more fun that way when the cakes are stacked on top of each other!)

8. Bake the cakes according to the directions on the box, 23-28 minutes at 350 degrees. Watch them of course to make sure they don’t burn! Burning will definitely mess up your color effects, although it can be fixed if it happens by cutting off the burn, as we did that on top of the cake to give them a flatter aesthetic anyway.

Directions for Tie Dye Marble Icing:

1. Mix all powdered sugar, butter/shortening and water/milk together. After covering your surface with powdered sugar, roll and knead the dough until it feels like play-doh. It should not be sticky (add more sugar!) but it should not be crumbly (add a tiny drop of water!)

2. Now separate all of your white dough into the number of colors you want. We did 6 colors, so 6 equal lumps. If you want one color to be dominant, make that lump of dough bigger.

3. Poke a divot into the lump of dough you are working with, pour a drop or two of food coloring into it, and knead it well. Continue until it is the color that you want. Remember if you are going for rainbow and not pastels, the color needs to be dark and bright.

4. Roll each color out into a long and thin stick. Place all of the sticks together Laying together in the same direction. Squish all of them together. Then, pick all of the dough up and twist it a few times. Fold it all in half, then twist it all a few times once again.

5. Roll the entire thing into a ball. Making sure that your surface is covered in powdered sugar, as well as your rolling pin, roll out this dough into a flat, wide and thin circle. It should like a marbled masterpiece, unlike mine. Here is a woman who really knows how to do it well, if you want to see a video of the master at work. I wish I could have figured out the icing as well as she did! Decided which side of the circle you like best and use that was your top.

6. Frost the entire cake, thickly in between each layer of cake and then thinly all around the sides and top. This will act as your glue.

7. Place the marble fondant gently on the top of the cake. The whole thing should drape past the bottom of the cake. Trim it so that it fits correctly.

Hopefully it looks gorgeous! If not, check out the post above the recipe for ways to fix cake mistakes.

Happy baking! Let me know how yours turns out!Photography by: Jechmate Photography