· Leave yourself lots of time for decorating. It's loads of fun but can take about 2 hours if you follow the directions exactly. (Hint: You can save time on the batter end by using a cake mix.)
· When the directions say to grease and then flour the pan, do it, and use vegetable shortening if you can. Getting the cake out of a pan with lots of crevices is tricky and you need all the help you can get.
· Use paste food coloring for more vivid colors - especially for Sesame Street characters. Be forewarned that it can take a few days to get the coloring off your hands, though.
· If you are frosting a chocolate cake with vanilla icing and you end up with horrible black crumbs stuck everywhere in the frosting—just smash up some oreos with a rolling pin and scatter them on top. It looks very intentional. (My daughter's 1st birthday was celebrated with just such a cake.) You can avoid that scenrio by never allowing the frosting knife to touch the bare cake.
· Another trick to deal with the crumbs. Make two layers of frosting. First make a thin one, crumbs and all- and set it in the fridge. Then add another thicker layer, and it'll be as smooth as a baby's behind! (set it again in the fridge before decorating...)