Look, there’s no shame in it. We’ve all done it. Bought the cake on the way to an afternoon play date, hastily edged it out of its container and slapped it on the fine china plate we just happened to have in the car. A quick whip around with the glad wrap (also handily in the car) and … oh okay, there is shame in it.
But what if we bought the cake and then transformed it? Made it super-wonderful and all our own? There’d be no shame whatsoever in being creative and clever with a store-bought chocky cake! Here’s how you do it…
1. Break out the lollies
You could do this in the car if times were desperate. Buy a bag of Smarties and a tub of ready-made icing while you’re buying the cake. Smear a light layer of ready-made icing over the top of the existing cake icing and press Smarties all over. You could also just add a dab of ready-made icing to each Smartie and press into the existing icing. Depends on how much patience you have…
2. Do the jam sandwich
Now, obviously this isn’t one for constructing in the car (unless you’re particularly game), but you can buy a plain Madeira cake and cut into 10 slices. Smear each slice with jam and reconstruct the cake. Dust with icing sugar and you’ve got fresh, homemade flavour all the way!
3. Add a layer of icing
If you’re home and the store-bought cake is staring at you mockingly, you can whip up a quick batch of plain icing, colour it any colour you like (purple is nice) and smooth a thick layer all over that smug cake. Use the edge of a knife to make some swirly patterns through the new icing.
4. Mix it up
Buy two store-bought cakes, one vanilla, one chocolate and a tub of ready-made icing. Slice each cake into two and then build a large cake with one vanilla layer, a layer of icing, one chocolate, a layer of icing, another vanilla, a layer of icing and a chocolate cake layer on top. Ice the lot and decorate with any of the ideas mentioned here (or leave plain – the surprise is inside!).
5. Pop on some flowers
A lovely posy of edible flowers will cheer up any old cake. Try some nasturtiums, lavender, carnations, chrysanthemums, jasmine or even the humble dandelion. You can add artificial flowers if no edibles are available.
6. Hundreds and thousands
If the icing on your store-bought cake is soft, you can sprinkle a layer of hundreds and thousands over the top and gently press into the icing with an egg flip. Hundreds and thousands make any cake a celebration cake. This won’t work if the icing is hard – you will need to add a thin layer of new icing over the old in order to use the sprinkles.
7. Victoria sponge-alike
Be dainty and turn up with a Victorian sponge … sort of. Buy two plain vanilla cakes and sandwich them together with a thick layer of jam and cream. Lightly dust the top with icing sugar. Voila! Slaved for minutes!
8. Marshmallow goodies
Buy a round cake (any flavour) and a bag of marshmallows. Once home, ice the cake with a layer of plain icing and then press the marshmallows all over it. You can add a couple of sugar flowers in there too to really spice it up.
9. Work the printables
If the cake is for a special occasion, you can easily print out a couple of cute pictures, attach them to skewers with tape and stick them into your cake.
10. Get totally fruity
A layer of whipped cream over the top of your shop-bought cake scattered with some lovely fresh fruit is a delicious and simple way to pimp your cake. Kiwifruit and strawberries are a classic, but if fresh fruit is in short supply at your place, a tin of peaches will do the trick nicely. Drain well.
11. Add a surprise inside
You can make a piñata cake out of any old cake. Just cut out a section in the middle, half fill with lollies (sprinkles are also great) and pop the middle back in. Trim to make flat and then ice over the top. Cover with chocolate freckles, because freckles are fun.
12.Kit Kats a-go-go
Buy six Kit Kats, a tub of ready-made icing and a big bag of M&Ms when you buy your cake. Spread the icing all over the cake and then line the Kit Kats up around the outside of the cake, forming a bowl for you to pour your M&Ms into. Add a big bow to keep the whole thing secure and you’re ready to go go.
13. Add mini meringues
This is a beautiful amalgamation of two shop-bought items that when separate look like you didn’t even try but when brought together … magic. Buy a packet of those mini-meringues you can get in the bread aisle of most supermarkets along with your cake and a tub of ready-made icing. Add a little smear of icing to the back of each meringue and stick it on top of your cake. Cover the whole top and that cake will look so spectacular you may even cry with joy.
14. Drizzle on the lemon curd
Store-bought lemon curd is nothing like the real thing, but no-one will notice when it’s drizzled all through a lovely vanilla store-bought cake. Yum, it actually tastes amazing. Simply heat a jar of lemon curd (you can use jam if you can’t find any lemon curd) until very runny and then pour over your cake. It seeps in, making the cake more of a pudding and turning it into something only Grandma could make. Dust with icing sugar once the liquid is absorbed into the cake.
15. Go nuts
Purchase a bag of chopped nuts when you buy your iced cake. Put the cake into the microwave on a low setting until the icing starts to slightly melt. Remove from microwave and sprinkle all over with the nuts. This is particularly yummy on a chocolate mud cake. Chocolate and nuts = glorious combination.
16. Melt some chocolate
Making complicated-looking chocolate decorations for cakes is actually very easy. All you do is line a cookie tray with baking paper, melt some chocolate (white or dark or both) dip a teaspoon into the melted chocolate and then drizzle patterns of chocolate onto the baking paper. Whack the tray into the freezer for at least 20 minutes and you’ve got yourself a load of designer chocolate decorations to stick into your shop-bought cake and turn it into all kinds of wonderful.
17. Ice with some marshmallow icing
Marshmallow icing makes everything taste amazeballs. Fluff it all over the top of your store-bought chocky or vanilla cake and you will have the punters clambering for more. Just buy a packet of marshmallows when you buy your cake and follow these instructions. Yuuuuuuum.
18. Use props
If the cake is for your train-obsessed little man, stick some locomotives on top of the cake, and make train tracks out of chocolate bullets. Be creative! You can use cake toppers, bunting, motifs, toys etc. to make your cake the star of the party.