Sue’s Cakes & Stuff (updated often)

One of the things that I love doing on occasion is making creative cakes. I most enjoy thinking of a theme and figuring out how to make the theme into a cake. While I would hate the pressure of making cakes frequently, doing one a month or so lets my creative juices flow! Eric is also great at assisting- he usually does the cutting and helps me with the design.

If you are interested in getting more info on a particular cake, send an email or write a comment which includes your email and I’ll try and get back to you.

Sorry for the different sizes photos – I’ve downloaded them at different times. In general, they are in order of most recent cakes as I update the site as I make them.

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My oldest son has resisted reading until he started reading 1) Captain Underpants, and then 2) Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  The second has taken him farther, so I needed that to be his theme cake!  I had a hard time with the font for Diary.  I don’t have fondant and so needed to do it all in buttercream frosting…

I did learn an awesome trick of putting the different color frosting into plastic wrap and then putting the plastic wrap into the frosting bags – it saves TONS of clean up time.  It will change the way you do cakes!  (See short easy video tutorial here.)

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For the Nozomi Project, the NPO group that we are part of,  we were having the second year anniversary celebration.  Our staff have recently started making amazing framed pendants – it is a new level of beauty from brokenness.  In honor of their beautiful workmanship, I wanted to make cakes for the celebration that reflected this.  I don’t have access to lots of the amazing cake supplies in the US, so my silver frosting was made from regular Wilton colors…

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Yes, we needed a Frozen cake!  I opted for Olaf -he is so much fun.  It was my second time to work with fondant – the face was easier than I thought but the black dye was more messy than I expected.  The pond was made from blue jello;  the trees from ice cream cones.  We thought of the line late at night written on the cake, “We Olaf Olivia!”  (Get it?)

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A Kindle cake for our friend Anika!

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Owen’s Angry Birds cake when he turned 10:

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Annie wanted a bird cake…

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Our friend Beth Johnson (get the initials)  turned 31 – so we did cupcakes in the theme of Baskin Robbins, which is popularly called “31” here….

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Olivia and her friend Minori share a birthday near each other — and it was celebrated the day we were supposed to go to see the cherry blossoms- but got rained out.

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For Eric’s big 50th, he needed a bonsai cake….

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This is a wedding shower cake…. a bit R – rated – we bought her a pink thong to match the cake 🙂

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Owen’s 11th birthday party- celebrated too with our friend Chad!

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Ian’s third birthday.. a Car’s racetrack made out of cupcakes.

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Olivia had two birthday parties this year – one before we moved from Sanda so that we could have sort of a goodbye party with her friends…. For this I chose the theme of Ponyo, one of Miyazaki’s wonderful movies that Olivia loves. Eric made a piñata for it, using a round balloon and paper mache. All of Olivia’s friends loved their first piñata experience, though the moms hate seeing it destroyed!

Her second birthday this year she shared with a friend. My sister gave me the idea from the US to make cake pops. Rather than the ultra-sweet recipe, I used a type of sweet, dense breakfast cheese bread that I sort of squished to make the shape of kitty’s head, then dipped it in melted white chocolate (use a double boiler, NOT the microwave!), and then used candies and chocolate jimmies for the faces. We can’t buy lollipop sticks here, so I used individuals chopsticks.

For Ian’s one year old birthday, I made him a truck cake:

Christmas 2011 – I had fun making Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer Cupcakes for several different events. And simple tree ornament crackers, decorated with ranch dressing cream cheese and veggies.

Owen wanted his ninth birthday to be a special “last” one in Sanda with his special friends. So I ordered a photo sheet for the top of the cake with pictures of his friends who would be coming to the party. It is so simple but o one in Japan has seen it before.

So this isn’t a cake, but my favorite part of preparing for the party was working with the girls to make these wiener guys.

Our friend George (real name is Yoji) has loved the character Yoda from Star Wars, and I guess calls himself that at times. We helped his wife pull off a surprise 50th birthday party for him, and had to make a Yoda cake.

***Our son Ian – 2 – LOVES Thomas. Any kind of transportation, actually, but in particular – Thomas. I decided to learn how to make fondant, and to try working with it for the first time- to make a real Thomas cake for him. I found some good helps online – managed to scrape together the ingredients to make fondant here in Japan, and gave it a shot. When I went to bed the night before the party – around 2:30 am – I was fairly happy with my first fondant cake…

It was a very hot Japan September day, and by the time of the party the next afternoon, when i went to retrieve the cake – we had a train wreck. Eric helped me try and repair it, but still… The great thing was – Ian didn’t care about the melted parts that pulled the train apart – he thought it was the greatest thing. Now whenever he hears “Happy Birthday” he starts talking about his Thomas cake.

This was a fun cake that I made for our friend Rhonda’s baby shower…Baby Isaac came just three days after the shower!

Here is another simple baby shower idea for cupcakes that I did a year or so ago:

Annie decided six months ago that she wanted a “Mitsu-Bachi-Hacchi” theme birthday party. It is an anime movie that came out a few years ago or so here in Japan, but based on a tv cartoon series that used to run thirty five years ago. Annie’s class had done it as a school play- she was the queen bee! I find character cakes can often be the hardest to make. The key is finding a really good picture from the internet, copying it to be the size of the cake, and then cutting it up and tracing pieces of it, when necessary, onto the cake. For this cake, the eyes were the most complicated and took over an hour…

We took the kids to see “Tangled” during spring break when it came out in Japan. Olivia loved it – it was a fun theme for her fifth birthday party. We couldn’t figure out how to make the round tower out of cake… and then I found smallish round cardboard bundt molds at our local hyaku yen (dollar) store. Three of them were perfect for stacking for the tower. Eric made Rapunzel’s face out of buttercream icing (we can’t get fondant here, so we have to make due)…Sliced almonds worked for the roof.

This year Owen wanted a soccer theme based on a popular Japanese soccer anime show on television called Inazuma Eleven. Making a sports field is an easy theme cake to pull off with a 13 x 9 pan. I made a double thick cake to add height, and ordered the soccer characters online. Each of the boys who came got to choose their favorite character to take home with them. The green grass trim is the plastic separators they use on sushi trays; my husband had the great idea of using goldfish nets for the soccer nets.

Last year we were in L.A. and I didn’t have a lot of supplies so went simple with her cake. I took advantage of being there and ordered an edible cake topper that I had designed on the computer… a graphic of the Chipmunks and the Chipettes, and then I changed the wording to put Annie’s name on the cake. I sent it off and got it back two days later and the rest of it was very easy.

Olivia’s four year old birthday was another movie theme. She has loved the Pixar”balloon” movie — Up! — so we went with that as a theme.

To make Carl’s house, I used 4 large loaf pans that Eric helped me cut to make the roof lines, chimney, and mailbox. It was fun to go through the grocery store here and find small cookies for the roof, and pretzel sticks for the porch, columns, and mailbox. Coconut dyed green made the grass. I broke one of my rules and used something on the cake that wasn’t edible — the balloons. (yeah Ebay!). The challenging part was sticking the balloons into the chimney — Eric taped them onto chopsticks and stuck it through the chimney and cake, but they made the chimney bulge and almost fall apart. This was one of my latest cake nights ever – making 3-D cakes where you need to decorate all sides takes a long time –but I loved making it for Olivia!


Our friend Mary just celebrated her 50th birthday party. I had a hard idea thinking of a theme for her, and decided she needed an “uplifting” cake for this one. It is one of those cakes that works better in a ladies-only setting perhaps. It was fun because I learned (online) how to create the lacey-look with icing. Our wedding cake had that (in cream-color, not purple!) and I always loved it but didn’t know – until I made this cake- how to do it. One of the funnest things about this birthday party was the reaction of our Japanese friends to this cake… All sixteen or so ladies immediately pulled out their cell phones, gathered around Mary and the cake, and started snapping photos of the bra cake. It was hilarious.

Owen wanted a Super Mario birthday party… This cake was my earliest-morning-cake to date before the Up cake (4 am!). Eric made a stencil outline that I cut into pieces to put the face and body together. The mushrooms were fun– chocolate cupcakes with red frosting and cut-up marshmallows. Doing a number of different-colored icings took longer than some other cakes, and making character cakes NOT look like a cheap knock-off is always the most time consuming for me…

Last year Annie wanted another princess themed cake, so I made the castle:

I self-taught myself on YouTube how to do basket-weaving one night last September in order to make a stroller cake for our little friend Joshua’s baby shower:

For Eric’s last birthday, we had a “backwards birthday party.” In addition to everyone coming dressed backwards, we had dessert first, and then dinner. Dessert turned out to be a meatloaf cake with mashed potato topping:

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Then, dinner was — spaghetti and meatball cupcakes. (The meatballs are frerer rocher chocolates; the tomato sauce is strawberry jam). Both of these “cakes” were great fun to make- they would also be fun as an April Fool’s surprise.

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IMG_2752Olivia loves dogs – big ones, small ones, mean ones, nice ones. So for her 3rd birthday I made doggie cupcakes. None of the pictures came out really well, but you can get the general idea…

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This was some cupcakes I made for four birthdays in our church community group in November. The group is called “Vineyard” so I made different shades of a cluster of grapes.

We celebrated Eric’s brother Mark’s birthday while he was visiting us over Thanksgiving when we were back in New Jersey several years ago. Although he uses pcs at work, we think he didn’t mind us making it an Apple computer cake:

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This was a sepia photo cake that I made (with help from my sister Allison) for our friend Lyn.

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The first cake I could make for my niece Isabella at her dedication:

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Here is Annie’s 4 year old Cinderella cake:

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A going-away cake for our friend Laura leaving for Rwanda for a year. (We miss you!)

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The rest of these cakes I’ve made the last few years in Japan:

This was for Olivia’s 2nd birthday (see party photos). Her favorite character these days is Scrat from Ice Age, so we had to make a Scrat cake. I made 2 oblong cakes and put them together…Eric trimmed down the height of the blue part between the white ice mountains to make it a bit 3-dimensional. A truffle helped create the acorn.

Our friend Y’s birthday – she has a Boston Terrier who is her joy, so it was natural to make her a doggy cake!
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Owen’s fifth birthday cake: a Japanese power ranger called “Power Chopper” (trust me- this was his request, not mine. I’m still trying to figure out what a power ranger is!)

Here are the latest Christmas cupcakes I’ve made for children’s events:

a Christmas tree cake (you can make these into individual cupcakes). See blog entry for details on making these)
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Snowmen cupcakes:
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A few from other recent celebrations:

Our pastor and his wife were celebrating their 20th anniversary, as well as our senior pastor and wife, when we were all going away overnight for a retreat. So, I made an anniversary-type cake:

The youngest member of the team that we just hosted from Cerritos, CA, last summer is Rachel Kohara. She turned one at English camp. Because her parents are HUGE Disney fans, we thought it only right to make her first birthday a Minnie one…
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Annie’s 3rd birthday party – Totoro and Dust Bunnies, from the classic Japanese anime “Tonari no Totoro” – one of Annie’s favorite things in the world!

This was one of the funnest cakes I’ve ever made. I cut my own icing tip to make the tip….A Macaroni and Cheese Cake (see entry What they Have in Common)


Olivia’s first birthday with an “Olivia the piglet” cake (we figured we can’t do a pig when she gets a little older so we better do it now when she doesn’t know better~)

Owen’s fourth birthday – he’s really been into Disney’s Cars:

We had an Asian theme 40th birthday party for our friend Wendi. She got a sushi cake!


Annie’s second birthday cake:

Owen’s third birthday cake: (with his friend Toby blowing out the candles)

A swimming pool birthday cake for a combined birthday party for Annie’s first birthday and our friend Peter (except Annie was sick and couldn’t attend her own birthday party). I used Japanese chicklets for the pool tiles, and blue jello filled the inside of the cake.

Here’s Peter’s family celebrating:

Owen’s 2nd birthday was an Elmo one:

A car I made for a Korean friend here who passed his Japanese driving test after the 14th (FOURTEENTH!) try:

An Easter cake for a church celebration:

A swan cake for one of our Asian Access leaders, Kawasaki Sensei. Several years ago he dressed up as a swan for a skit night that we had at a retreat, so we had to help him remember it at a recent birthday when he was visiting:

A sun cake for my friend Kazumi’s birthday:

A ruler cake I made for our pastor friend, Makio Sensei…who discovered that he had grown a centimeter the past year:

A pizza (fruit) cake made for two of my English lady students:

Our friend Yasuko LOVES the Target store (not to be found in Japan). So this was her last birthday cake:

Our friend Michelle’s engagement (ring) cake):

A wedding cake I made for our friends’ wedding in Sendai:

A wedding cake I made for a “pretend” wedding that we did up in Sendai:

A Christmas cake for our church Christmas celebration last year:

Eric’s Birthday cakes:

Eric’s 40th birthday cake:

Eric’s basketball birthday party:

Eric’s most creative birthday cake — a cat litter cake — and the one that caused the biggest “stink” among guests: (it’s not really cat poo-poo, I promise!)

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31 thoughts on “Sue’s Cakes & Stuff (updated often)

  1. hey love all the cakes my sons third birthday is coming up on monday and im thinking bout doin the race track one, i was just wondering wat u use for the icing and for the black track

  2. Hi Heidi- This cake was pretty easy…As you can tell, I used two round cake pans; cut a section out of the one and put them together. The black for the race track is crushed Oreo cookies (I took out the middle part; put the cookie part in the food processor)…The green and white icing is a butter cream with some crisco to keep it from getting too soft . Let me know if you have any other questions.
    Sue

  3. Wow Sue! I am so impressed with your cake designs! I remember I made a winnie the pooh cake for Ali when she turned two (I think you were there) and found it so stressful that I never ventured into it again. These are beautiful. I love reading your blog.

  4. All of your cakes are very cute!! I’m planning an Olivia the Pig themed 1st birthday party for my daughter Olivia in August. I would like some information on how you made that particular cake. Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much.

  5. Those are amazing cakes!!
    We are making a mac and cheese cake for my father in law and I was wondering how you did the noodles, for the cake?
    Thankyou So much!
    Jen

  6. Hi Jennifer-
    If you’ve done a bit of cake decorating, it is not that hard. You only need a larger round icing tip. Because we are in Japan and didn’t have access to a lot of different sizes, my husband used a dremel rotary tool to cut the end off of a smaller tip. If you practice a little bit, it was incredibly easy to make a bunch of macaronis. It was one of the funnest cakes I’ve made. Good luck!

  7. We are planning a Totoro party for my son and my search found your adorable cake and dust mite cupcakes. Can you share what you did at the party? I have some ideas, but would love to hear from someone whose done this one already.

    Thanks!

  8. Hi Mary-
    We did this in Japan and my daughter was only 3 years old, so we didn’t do a lot with the theme. Friends brought Totoro gifts (a lot easier to find in Japan than here)… I’d love to hear more of what you are going to do and see your cake too!
    Sue

  9. I just ran across while searching for Oliva the Pig birthday cakes. How did you make that. It is so cool. Was wondering if you had any tips on how to do that. I have a 5 year old who loves Olivia and we are having a party for her and would love to make a cake like that.

    Thanks,
    Heidi

  10. Wow! You have some very impressive cakes! I was “googling” for cake ideas for my husbands 30th birthday. I am pretty stumped! I like the idea of using photos…and that sepia photo cake you made looks incredible! Were those real photographs or the edible kind? I am actually taking a cake decorating class and just wondering if this is do-able for me…or leave it to a professional:)

    By the way…our daughter’s name is Olivia as well and we did an “Olivia the Pig” party for her 1st birthday…very cute!
    Thanks!
    Paige

  11. YOU are amazing!!! I suggest you send some of these ideas in to Family Fun (given that they are original). Let me know if you need help finding where to send them. (shanpopkin@gmail.com)

    My favorite was the backward dinner… Those two ‘take the cake’!! 🙂 VERY fun!

  12. Hi,
    My daughter’s birthday is coming soon. I’d like to make her a Totoro cake. Can you send me any information about how you made your cake?

    Thanks for your help.
    Mary

  13. I just found you while researching ideas for my daughters 7th birthday. Her name is Olivia and I thought it wuold be fun if we did an Olivia the Pig theme party. I love the cake you did! Could you give me pointers on how to do this cake? Thanks so much!

    • Hi Briana-
      I hope its not too late- I used a large round Wilton cake pan for her body (12 or 14 inch- I forget!) – it helped to not cut it out but use white for the parts that aren’t her body. I found the picture from one of the books made it larger, my husband traced it onto paper and then I cut it out in sections to trace it onto the cake. The head I think was a 9″ cake. When I baked the cake it actually sunk in the middle but we still used it anyway! 🙂 Good luck.

  14. Hi Sue,

    Its been super going through the fantastic cakes you’ve done. There is so much to learn from your creative ideas.

    I was looking for a racing car track cake and found yours to be most practical. Thanks a million.

    I just wish I had documented the cakes I’ve done for my kids over the years as you have…………will start now………better late than never.

    Love and thanks Lizelle

  15. I loved your cakes!! My daughter is having a mystery party (who took the ring) for her 12th birthday soon. I loved your engagement ring cake you made for your friend Michelle and was wondering if you would mind explaining to me how you made it and with what? I would sooo appreciate it as my daughter would really like me to make her a ring cake and I want to do this for her, but haven’t done a cake for about 10 years and am not so great at that! I think I can do it though!!! Thanks in advance for your help if you are able! ~Racquel

  16. wow:)i love your cakes! my son’s first birthday next week im planning to do 2 tier cake but not sure about my buttercream, im worried that it might melt in room temperature.it’s my first time to do 2 tier is there any chance you can send me the buttercream recipe that you used on your cake please
    my email add is rza@deified.net

    thanks a lot:)
    Riz

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