Wednesday 26 June 2013

Cake Pops Decorating Class - Pigs, Sheep and Cows

I've tried to make cake pops a couple of times and it has always been a disaster - mainly because I can't get the balls to stay on the sticks! I decided it was about time I took a class to learn how to do it properly and for my birthday received a voucher for a lesson at the Make Lounge. I've been there a couple of times before, to do a sewing class and a paper cutting class, and really enjoyed them both.

When I arrived at the Make Lounge and met the friendly tutor Rachel, I saw we had already been provided with cake pops that had already been dipped in white candy melts. (Candy melts are coloured discs you melt for making sweets or dipping cake pops and they come in all sorts of different colours). That did actually make sense, because the cake pops need to go in the freezer or fridge overnight to set, but it was a bit disappointing as it meant I still wasn't going to be able to learn how to make the balls stay on the sticks!

Rachel did give me plenty of advice about how to do it correctly, and I think I may have identified where I was going wrong. But I would have liked it if we had been able to make some cake balls ourselves - even if we then had to use the ones Rachel had prepared in class - to see what sort of consistency they were supposed to be. So in the end this class was actually all about decorating cake pops rather than making them, which was a shame, but in retrospect I shouldn't really have expected to make them because they do need to go in the fridge for quite a long time and it was only a two and a half hour class.

Here are some of the most important tips I noted down during the class.

How to make cake pops

  • Bake or buy a cake and break it up into crumbs. Mix with buttercream - you need an 80/20 ratio of cake to buttercream and you should knead it to a dough-like consistency.
  • Cake that is a day or two old works best for this.
  • Your balls should be about 30g in weight, so they are not too heavy for the sticks
  • Roll the mixture into balls, place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and place in the fridge for at least two hours or overnight, or in the freezer for 20 minutes.
  • Don't pack the cake mixture too tightly when you make the balls; they will contract when they freeze and could crack.
  • When you are ready to use the balls, only take a couple out of the fridge at a time so they don't get too warm. But if you have put them in the freezer, you need to bring them back to fridge or cool room temperature, otherwise the cold cake pop meeting the hot candy melt can cause problems.
  • Melt the candy melts in the microwave or a bain marie. You need a deep bowl, so if you are not using much, a mug is a good idea. You need to be able to plunge the whole cake pop into the candy melts in one go to coat it.
  • The candy melts need to be a pouring consistency so you may need to add a little vegetable oil to thin the mixture. You don't need much though - 1-2 tbsp oil is enough for a whole packet of candy melts.
  • Dip the end of the stick in a little candy melt and insert into a cake ball. You don't need to put it back into the fridge again to set.
  • Dip the cake pop in the candy melt and coat it all in one go. If you have to keep dipping because you haven't covered the bottom, the cake pop is more likely to fall off the stick.
  • Hold the cake pop at a 45 degree angle and tap gently against the edge of the bowl so the excess candy drips off.
  • Then stand upright in a polystyrene cake dummy that you have made holes in (you can also buy special cake pops stands which you can also use to display the cake pops).

We began by decorating a cake pop in a simple style, first dipping it completely in a coloured candy melt and then half dipping it in a bowl of sprinkles.

If the candy melts are the right consistency and you dip the cake pop once, you get an even, glossy coating. Here you can see the cake pop being held at an angle to allow the excess to run off.

I dipped the cake pop half way down into the bowl of sprinkles and had my first completed cake pop.

Next we tried a marbling technique. We dipped the cake pop into one colour - I chose yellow - then took a spoonful of another colour and drizzled it over the top, turning the cake pop as we did so. I ended up with a really nice pattern that reminded me a bit of a Chupa Chups lolly.

You can also use fondant shapes to decorate your cake pops; just make sure the candy melt coating has dried as otherwise the fondant shapes will slip off. You can either wait until the candy melt coating is still tacky, or if it has completely dried, use a cocktail stick to put a little wet candy melt onto the spot where you want to attach the fondant shape.

Rachel had a selection of plunger cutters for us to use; I chose a large and a small star shape. Cut the shapes out of fondant...

... and simply stick them on to the cake pop. I've finished this one with a sprinkling of glitter.

My favourite cake pops are the ones that look like animals so I was pleased when Rachel told us we would learn how to make a pig and a sheep. To make the pig, we first dipped the cake pop into a bowl of pink candy melts.

Then I made the nose and ears from pink fondant. It was very easy - just two triangles for the ears which I then shaped and bent slightly, and a small ball for the snout, which I then flattened and used a cocktail stick to make nostrils.

The eyes were a little more tricky as they were so small. I placed a small circle of white fondant onto the face then two even smaller circles of black fondant on top (attaching the latter with a cocktail stick dipped in some more candy melt). It may be easier to use an edible pen if you have one for the eyes. I really like this little pig!

I also had a go at making a tail, by rolling out a thin sausage shape from the pink fondant and curling it around a cocktail stick.

I then slid it off the stick and attached it to the back of the pig with some candy melt. However it started to unroll, and in any case my cake pop was only the pig's head, not the whole body, so it shouldn't really have had a tail coming out the back!

I really like this red apple and again it was very simple to make. I dipped a cake pop in red candy melt, made a leaf and a stalk from fondant and used the side of a cocktail stick to make the veins on the leaf. The cake pop was finished with a sprinkling of red glitter.

Can you tell what this one is going to be...? We had one cake pop which was more of an oval shape - because of course they don't have to be perfectly round balls. We dipped it in white candy melt and covered it with tiny white sprinkles. It's meant to look like wool...

I made the sheep's face and feet out of black fondant and attached them using some more candy melt

Here's a side view of the sheep, isn't he cute?

For our last cake pop we were allowed to freestyle and decorate it however we wanted, so of course I had to make a cow. (You may remember I have a bit of a cow theme going in my life). This isn't perfect as I was making it up as I went along, and not even looking at a picture - I don't think the nose is quite right, and the shape of the ears and the black spots reminds me more of a giraffe! Still, I think it's obvious this is a cow; a female cow in fact as I added a little flower in her hair.

Here are all the cake pops I made during the course. I had a lot of fun and was impressed by the tutor Rachel.

We also packaged up our cake pops to take home, putting a cellophane bag over the top and gathering it with a ribbon. They were very easy to transport like this - I laid them end to end in a paper bag, and they all made it home (on public transport via a detour to the shops) in perfect condition.

Two more cake pops packaged up and waiting to go home. I've got so many ideas now for other animals I want to make - now I've learnt the basic principles I'm sure I could do pretty much anything. As long as I can get the balls to stay on the sticks!


  1. You did a great job, well done. I've only tried cake pops once and they were total rubbish so I didn't bother again ha ha

  2. These look really impressive!! so creative - they look wonderful!
    Mary x

  3. I love the way the marbled cake pops turned out! I've never tried that technique before... it's definitely on my to-do list now!

    When I first started making cake pops I had a problem with them falling off the sticks too. With a lot of practice, I've figured out the mistakes I was making. I recently put together a post, 5 Tricks To Keep Cake Pops From Falling Off Sticks, that I think you will find helpful.


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