Tip 1. Planning
It’s no secret that I am a bit of a Pinterest addict and it’s the first stage in my getting ahead game. As far in advance as you can muster the energy, browse cake ideas and put together a Pinterest board. Remember that it is likely going to need to fit with your theme or you will plan the theme around it so bear in mind how easy decorations/ party games etc. might be to tie in with the cake. Collect a whole host of cake images to inspire you as you can always take elements from various different ones.
Tip 2. Identify what is ‘easy’
Avoid the butter cream.
Much as it seems ‘easy’ buttercream doesn’t have a long shelf life in a warm kitchen and means last minute decorating.
The ‘Cover in confectionary’ style cake
Choose something covered in some sort of confectionary (Flake, Kitkats, Smarties etc.) which is a simple assembly job with a bit of buttercream here and there and to stick it all together. Very few people dislike cake which comes covered in chocolate Buttons.
Go Pro - brave the fondant.
Personally I think a fondant iced and decorated cake is the easiest and looks the most effective. Fondant is much easier to work with than most people imagine and you can always keep it simple using biscuit cutter shapes or buy sugar paste cutters. The best bit about decorating your cake with fondant cut out decorations is that they can be made weeks in advance and then just attached to the cake nearer the time which saves time and mess in the run up to the birthday.
Another great make ahead time saver is the cake topper which is a shape such as a character or animal made from sugarpaste. You can buy these online and then simply add other sugarpaste cut outs in relevant shapes/ colours to complete the ‘homemade’ cake.
Alternatively have a go at making your own using fondant, before you start spend some time looking online or on Pinterest for tutorials.
The next tips and more advice on putting together simple but effective cakes coming next. Feel free to post below any cakes you've made.