FAQs


About Our Products and Kits

Are any of the edible decorations free of common food allergens?

Unfortunately, at this time Ella Vanilla does NOT guarantee that any of our edible decorations are free of common food allergens EXCEPT for the fondant. Please note that although the ingredients might not list a particular allergen, our third party packaging facility also handles products that may come in contact with Wheat, Dairy, Eggs, Soy and Nuts.  If you have any particular questions about our products, please contact us directly, but we do not guarantee any allergy free products and the use of our edible decorations should be at the buyer’s own risk.

Are any of the edible decorations in the cake kits Kosher?

The following items we sell individually and include in our cake decorating kits are Kosher. However, any other edible decorations are not Kosher at this time. If you have specific questions or requests, please contact us directly and we will do our best to accommodate your needs. We hope to have a better line of Kosher products as we grow.

  • Fondant and Gumpaste
  • AmeriColor food coloring
  • Any edibles manufactured and packaged with a CK Product label that list or display display the Kosher symbol.

IMG_7750Will I need any tools not supplied in the kit?

Yes, there are a few common kitchen utensils that you will need to help decorate your cake. See the kit description on the product page or the enclosed kit directions for a complete list. But in general, most kits you will need a knife, measuring spoons- any fondant kits you will need a rolling pin (or as my sister used, a wine bottle!)

Should I invest in any special cake decorating tools to help decorate my cake kit?

If you plan to decorate cakes often you may want to purchase some basic tools that will help you create a more professional looking cake. Here is a list of tools that we think are very helpful and why.

Offset spatula: An offset spatula facilitates the application of icing to the cake with a smooth finish.
Cake turntable: Allows you to access all sides of the cake easily and quickly.
Fondant smoother: Smoothers help adhere the fondant to the cake and give it a smoother finish than you can usually do by hand.
Pastry or pizza cutter: Helpful to quickly and easily cut fondant and fondant decorations.
Water brush: Allows you to easily dampen fondant decorations to adhere to other fondant.
Modeling tools: The right tools can help create decorations and facilitate the decorating process.
Cell rolling pin: Allows you to easily roll out small amounts of fondant for making decorations.
8″ round metal cake pans: Metal pans create similar-sized cake layers for an even finished cake.

What’s the shelf life of an Ella Vanilla cake kit?

All of the edible components that make up our cake kits have a shelf life in excess of a year EXCEPT for the fondant, which has a 6 month to a year shelf life. If your kit wasn’t used for a bit, the best way to check if your fondant is still usable is to just feel it. If its soft and pliable, you can use it. If its hard or crumbly, toss it and you can buy a replacement here.

Your kit should be stored in a cool, dry place to ensure freshness.

Do I have the skills to make a particular cake kit?

Each of our kits have a designated Ability Level of Quick and EasyEasy, Moderate and Advanced, to help gauge which kits are best suited to your ability. Please remember that cake decorating is an art form and end results will vary according to ability.

Quick and Easy: Just as it sounds, these kits are fast and simple to complete. They are a great activity for young kids and those pressed for time. Our Mini Cake Decorating Party Kits are also super easy and fast to decorate.

Easy: Best for first-timers and young cake decorators. These cake designs include simple steps to achieve a great looking cake.

Moderate: Best for first-timers or seasoned cake decorators. These cake designs include at least one technique that might be considered a little more challenging.

Advanced: Best for those who are confident in their ability to cover a cake in fondant. Although the actual decorating of these cakes may not be difficult, these cake designs generally highlight the smoothness of the fondant-covered cake and have fewer decorations to hide any possible breaks or blemishes in the fondant.

Are young children able to make a kit?

Some of our kits might be challenging for very young children to do alone. They are a great project for young kids and adults to work on together. But our Fast & Easy as well as our Mini Cake Decorating Party Kits are perfect for young decorators ages 5 and up. We still suggest adult help and/or supervision!

Cakes-90How will I be able to make some of these beautiful flowers and decorations?

All of Ella Vanilla’s cakes are designed so that anyone is able to decorate a beautiful cake. The decorations needed for each kit are either easy to make with our step-by-step directions or we give you professionally pre-made decorations that are easily arranged onto the cake. We designed each kit so that the success rate of each cake is high no matter the ability level of the person making it.

Can I contact Ella Vanilla if I’m having difficulty decorating my cake kit?

Yes! We will be happy to help. Please email us at info@EllaVanilla.com anytime or call (215) 909-9392 during regular business hours.

Can I decorate the cake however I like?

Of course! This is your cake creation and your masterpiece. We supply step-by-step instructions to achieve our cake designs, but we encourage you to bring out your inner cake artist and decorate your cake as you like. We also offer Add-On decorations that can be purchased separately to help further customize your cake.

How long does it take to decorate a cake kit?

Cake decorating takes time so we suggest that you make and decorate your cake in stages over the course of a few days. Avoid decorating your cake a few hours before the event as time constraints may lead to stress and mishaps. Do like most professional cake decorators and plan working on your cake according to the time suggestions below.

Baking the cake: 1 to 2 hours.

Chilling cake layers in the refrigerator: 2 hours or up to 2 days before stacking and icing the cake layers.

Coloring the fondant: If your kit includes fondant, allow 20 minutes to mix each color. You can color your fondant several days in advance. Store each color in separate airtight plastic bags. Do not refrigerate!

Stacking and covering the cake in fondant: Allow about 1 hour to ice and cover the cake in fondant, if you are making a fondant cake.

Decorating the cake: 1 to 3 hours depending on the kit. Please refer to the Decorating Time printed in the Book II directions supplied in your kit.

Our Mini Cake Decorating Party Kit cakes take about 30 minutes to decorate.

How far in advance can I decorate the cake?

You can decorate and refrigerate the cake up to 3 to 4 days before serving. Simply hold off on applying any fragile or tall decorations and lollypops to the cake that might get damaged in the refrigerator. No need to wrap the cake in plastic wrap if it’s a fondant cake as the fondant helps to keep the cake airtight and fresh. We suggest placing the cake into the cake kit box to keep the cake safe from damage while in the refrigerator and the box helps absorb any moisture.

Avoid decorating your cake with only few hours to spare before serving. The stress of time constraints can cause mistakes and mishaps. It’s a lot more fun to decorate a cake when you have plenty of time to enjoy the creative process and not worry about guests ringing the doorbell at any minute.

How do I repair any broken decorations?

Some of the pre-made decorations are very fragile and can break while handling. We’ve include a few extra pieces just in case there is some breakage. Many pieces can be repaired with a little dab of icing or some of the Piping Gel included in some of the kits and allowing 15-30 minutes for it to dry. Sugar roses can be arranged so that the broken petals are hidden. Any clean breaks on 2-D edible pieces can be pieced together and adhered directly to the cake.

Baking Your Cake

How far in advance should I bake the cake?

For best results, do like professional cake decorators do and bake the cake layers 1-2 days before decorating it. This is not only time efficient, but very important in another way: cake is fragile and is handled more easily when chilled.

We suggest refrigerating the cake layers for at least 24 hours to help ensure that the cake doesn’t crumble or crack while stacking, icing and decorating. After baking, simply place the cake layers while still in the paper pans on cooling racks to cool to room temperature. Once the cake layers feel cool to the touch, wrap each cake layer while still in its pan with 2 layers of plastic wrap all around the pan to keep airtight. Refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days or if wrapped properly, cake layers can be frozen up to 1 month before using. We suggest keeping each layer in its paper baking pan, double wrap in plastic wrap all around the pan, and then cover in aluminum foil to help reduce the chance of freezer burn. To thaw, place the frozen cake layers still wrapped in the plastic wrap and aluminum foil in the refrigerator overnight before using.

Can I bake and decorate my cake in the same day?

Yes, but we don’t recommend it unless you have a lot of time. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time and allow time for the cake layers to cool to room temperature and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before icing and decorating. A warm cake will melt the icing, and a warm cake will break apart when handling. So we cant stress enough how important it is to let it chill it for a bit.

How much cake batter do I need for a Fondant Kit or Icing Kit?

Visit any bakery or specialty cake store and notice one thing that all impressive cakes have in common – they are usually about 4-5 inches tall. Your Ella Vanilla cake should be impressive too, so you will need a DOUBLE recipe or 2 boxes of cake mix for most of our kits (see kit directions). The recipes posted on our site are already doubled for you. If you use your own recipe, we suggest doubling it. If you use a store bought box mix, you will need 2 boxes. Fill the cake pans no more than 1/3rd full. If you have extra batter, fill cupcake foils or another pan, bake and enjoy later.

What type of cake recipe should I use?

Be sure to choose a dense type of cake, such as a pound cake or classic layer cake. Avoid using soft or airy cakes, such as Angel Food and Chiffon, or dry cakes, such as Crumb Cake. Wet cakes like cheesecake or ice cream cakes should NEVER be used.

The exact kind of cake is up to you. See our suggested recipes or use one of your own. Maybe you have a favorite family recipe or you eat gluten-free or vegan. It’s your choice!

Can I use cake mix?

Yes. Using gourmet cake mix or grocery store boxed cake mix is an easy and fast way to bake your cake. To ensure that you have enough batter, be sure to buy 2. If you are doing one of our Mini Cake Decorating Party kits, only a single recipe is required.

If you use grocery store type boxed cake mix it can be used as is, but it can be a little too soft to support the weight of some decorations or fondant. We suggest that you doctor it a bit, which will give you not only a sturdy cake, but a super moist and delicious one. Just follow the directions on the box by adding the required ingredients, and also add 1 extra egg and 1 pouch of dry INSTANT pudding mix (any flavor) per cake mix box. Do not make the pudding- just use the mix dry. Remember to buy 2 of everything for a double batch!

Can I use a pre-made cake from a bakery?

Sure! If you decide to buy a pre-made cake from a bakery or supermarket, be sure that it is 8-inches round and at least 4-5 inches tall. If your pre-made cake has piped icing decorations, be sure to scrape them off before covering the cake in fondant. If you are making an Icing Kit, be sure to buy some extra WHITE icing to color and ice the cake.

For any Philadelphia area cake kit customers who don’t want to bake, our friends at Night Kitchen Bakery offer a special coupon for a blank 8-inch round vanilla cake and white icing for you to decorate your kit. See in store or email us directly. These discount coupons are for cake kit customers only.

Do I need to double the recipes posted on the Ella Vanilla website?

No. Our recipes posted under our Cake Kit Recipe tab are already designed to make enough batter for your cake. Only double other recipes you want to use or if you are using store-bought cake mix. If you are using a Mini Cake Decorating Party kit and want to use one of our recipes, be sure to cute the recipe in half!

How much icing will I need?

You will need 3 to 4 cups of icing or 2 tubs of store bought icing to stack and ice your cake. Please note, anyone decorating an Icing Kit  or Mini Cake Decorating Party Kit must use WHITE icing in order to be able to color it.

Instructions-17What types of icing should I use?

Most types of icings can be used, but our favorite type of icing here in the Ella Vanilla kitchen is Swiss Meringue Buttercream made with 100% real butter.

You’ll find that most specialty bakeries and cake decorators use this type of buttercream, and the recipe can be easily adapted to make many different yummy flavors. Not only is it really delicious, but the butter firms up nicely when the cake is chilled, which adds to the stability and strength of the stacked cake. Swiss Meringue Buttercream is a little more time consuming to make, but we think it’s well worth the effort and it can be made ahead of time.

See a variety of delicious icing recipes.

Which types of icings should not be used?

Avoid using any wet or runny icings, such as glazes, as the fondant can melt if wet or decorations wont stick to it. Also avoid any airy or fluffy icings, such as whipped cream frosting, which is unable to support the weight of the fondant icing and decorations.

20140906-104740-resizedCan I use a filling in my cake?

Yes. Along with icing, fillings can enhance the flavor of your cake and increase the wow factor. Fillings are typically applied in between one cake layer and the icing. Fillings should be used sparingly as too much filling can seep out of the sides of the cake or make the cake layers slide apart. If you decide to use a filling, we suggest a very thin layer of filling no thicker than 1/16 of an inch before applying the layer of icing. See our Recipes for our suggested How To.

Do the paper pans included in the kit work well?

Yes. These paper pans are surprisingly sturdy and can withstand heat up to 390 degrees Fahrenheit. Paper pans can go directly onto the oven racks or placed onto cookie sheets for easier handling in and out of the oven. Do not worry if small amounts of batter seep through the wholes in the bottom of the pan- that’s normal.

Can I use metal cake pans? Instructions-129

Yes, metal cake pans work best to bake cake layers that come out exactly the same in diameter, BUT be sure to only use the right kind of metal cake pans. Metal cake pans should have sides that are at least 2-3 inches high and the sides of the pan should be straight up and down, such as the pans available on our website or found in our shop and other specialty baking and cake decorating shops.

Avoid using metal cake pans with shallow, angled sides. Metal cake pans sold in grocery stores or department stores typically have angled sides so that the pans can nest inside one another. This is handy for storage but will result in a very uneven looking cake.

Can I use a different size pan?

Most of our kits are designed for 8-inch round cakes. Any deviations are up to you!

Should I invest in good metal cake pans?

It depends. If you plan to make a lot of cakes in the future, we suggest that you invest in a set of professional 8-inch round metal cake pans. If you are an occasional cake decorator, the paper baking pans supplied in our kits work just fine.

Do I need to grease and flour the baking pans?

Yes! Although the paper pans work well without greasing, it doesn’t hurt. If you are using metal pans always grease your pans with cooking spray or vegetable shortening and lightly dust with flour. Make sure you grease the edges and up the sides of the pan, as the batter will rise while baking.

When using metal cake pans, it’s best to also line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper – an effective way to keep the cake from sticking and safely remove the cakes intact from the pans.

To cut the parchment paper to size, place the bottom of the pan on top of the parchment paper. Trace the bottom of the pan onto the parchment paper and cut the circle out about 1/8 of an inch smaller than the traced circle. The parchment circle should be smaller than the bottom of the pan. If the parchment paper rides up the sides of the pan, batter may seep underneath and stick to the pan.

If using parchment paper, first grease the metal pan, making sure to get the edges and sides. Insert the parchment paper circle in the bottom of the pan and grease the top of the parchment paper then lightly dust with flour.

PB210832Can I fill the cake pans with more batter if I have extra?

Don’t do it! The 3 cake pans should not be filled higher than 1/3 way with batter. It’s very important not to overfill the cake pans with too much batter. Over-filled pans will take additional baking time, possibly causing the cake to overbake on the bottom and sides while staying raw on the inside. Also, cake batter rises while baking and the cake can overflow from the pan causing a big ole mess.

If you have extra batter, fill cupcake foils or an additional pan and bake to enjoy them. See, its not wasted that way.

How long should I bake the cake?

Refer to the recipe you are using for an approximate baking time. Keep in mind that in some instances, the cakes may take longer to bake than the instructions state. Our mini cakes typically bake a little longer than cupcakes. Best way to ensure they are baked properly is as stated next.

How do I know when my cake is finished baking?

The best way to tell if your cake is finished baking is to remove the pans from the oven and insert a toothpick or sharp knife into the center of the cake. Remove the tester and if it is free and clear of any wet batter, the cake is done. If there is wet batter clinging to it, then put the cakes back in and test again after a minute or so.

How do I know when the cake layers are completely cooled?

Once out of the oven, allow your cake layers to cool COMPLETELY still in the pans on cooling racks. To ensure cake layers are fully cooled, gently place a hand on top of the cake and again on the bottom of the pan. It should feel cool to the touch and not emit any warmth. Be sure to let them cool completely before wrapping in plastic, otherwise moisture will get trapped in between the plastic wrap and cake, making the cake wet and gooey. Not good.

Why do you cool, wrap, and chill your cake layers while still in the pans?

My friend and former boss, Colette Peters of Colette’s Cakes, taught me this tip of cooling, wrapping and chilling cake layers while still in the pan. It’s a great way to protect the shape of the cake layers and help keep them from getting damaged while handling.

Instructions-12Why do I have to cut off so much cake to level the cake layers?

We know it’s hard to sacrifice a large chunk of perfectly good cake in order to make the cake layers level, but it’s important for the cake to be level and straight for a professional-looking end result. Remember, the cake scraps aren’t wasted if you store them in a container and snack on them!

Working with Fondant

Instructions-91What is fondant?

Fondant is an edible sugar-dough icing that can be rolled or modeled much like clay. Fondant can be used to make decorations or rolled out and placed over the entire cake to give it a smooth, professional finish.

What’s the best way to work with fondant?

  • Remove any rings, bracelets or watches
  • Work on a flat surface
  • Work on a clean, dry, crumb-free surface
  • Keep hands dry to prevent sticking
  • Work in a cool, dry environment. Is it raining? Shut all the windows. Is it hot? Crank the air-conditioning.
  • Fondant should not be sticky or gooey. Knead powdered sugar into fondant until it is easy to handle.
  • Food color gel can stain clothes. Wear an apron!
  • Food color gel can stain your hands. Wear the disposable plastic gloves included in the kit to protect your hands while coloring the fondant. Use one pair of gloves per color.
  • To keep the fondant from sticking, keep the work surface dusted with powdered sugar from the Sugar Puff bag that is included in the kit.
  • Fondant dries out in the air, so place fondant in an airtight bag or plastic wrap when not in use, even for short periods like a few minutes.

See our video on how to cover the cake in fondant.

What do I do if the fondant is too sticky to work with?

Fondant is very sensitive to heat, humidity, and moisture. Be sure to work in a cool, dry environment. If it’s raining outside, close all windows. During hot weather, work in an air-conditioned environment.

Use the powdered sugar/cornstarch mixture from the Sugar Puff bag in your kit to dust the fondant and reduce stickiness. Continue to dust fondant until easy to handle. If the fondant is still sticky, add a teaspoon of the sugar/cornstarch mixture directly to the fondant and knead together. Keep adding mixture until easy to handle. Do not over dry.

What do I do if my fondant is too dry and cracking?

To help moisten dryer fondant, add a teaspoon of vegetable shortening for every ¼ pound of fondant and kneed together.

Once fondant is completely dried out, there is nothing that can be done to re-moisten it, so be sure to keep your unused fondant covered airtight in plastic wrap or a plastic bag.

IMG_8211I covered the cake in fondant but the fondant doesn’t cover the whole cake. Should I remove the fondant and try again?

NO! We do not suggest removing fondant from the cake as it can remove the icing and damage the cake layers. It’s best to work with the fondant as is and cover any blemishes or breaks with decorations.

If you covered the cake in fondant and the fondant doesn’t reach all the way to the bottom of the cake then have no fear. This is why all of our cakes are trimmed with ribbon, piped with icing, or decorated to help cover any flaws at the bottom of the cake.

See our video on how to cover the cake in fondant.

What can I do about cracks or holes in my fondant?

You can strategically place decorations over any cracks or blemishes. Ask any professional cake decorator and they will tell you that the art of cake decorating is how well you can cover any flaws. When deciding on the front and back of your cake, take into consideration which side has the least amount of blemishes and that side should be the front.

Once Your Cake Is Decorated

PB210865Does Ella Vanilla want to see how my cake turned out?

YES PLEASE!! Everyone here at Ella Vanilla LOVES to see photos of finished cakes and hear about the experience you had decorating a cake with one of our kits. In fact, it makes our day! You can either send us a photo to post on our website at mailto:photo@EllaVanilla.com or post your photo to our Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/EllaVanillaCakeKits

What’s the best way to store my decorated cake before serving?

Once your cake is fully decorated, place it in the kit box for safe keeping. For longer periods of time it can be refrigerated in its box until needed, up to 2 days. Simply remove any fragile or tall decorations prior to refrigerating. Allow cake to return to room temperature an hour or two before serving. Please note that cakes removed from the refrigerator during warm seasons may “sweat.” We find that keeping the cake in the box while in the refrigerator as well as when its returning to room temperature helps reduce this.

PB210840What’s the best way to transport my finished cake?

Your Ella Vanilla kit box can be used to transport your cake. Simply empty the contents of the kit. The white cake drum fits inside the bottom of the box to prevent the cake from sliding around.

If the decorations on your cake do not allow the kit box to close then it’s best to remove them during transportation and place them back on to the cake upon arrival.

During transport place the cake box on a flat, secure surface, or better yet, have someone hold it on their lap.

Can I display my cake outside?

Yes, but here are some tips to ensure success: Avoid having the cake sit out for long periods in temperatures over 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid heat and direct sunlight as this can melt fondant and may cause your cake to collapse. Avoid displaying outdoors for long periods in humid weather and rain.

Do I need to use the cake display board if I want to display my cake on a cake stand or plate?

No. If you would like to display your cake on a fancy cake stand or plate you can remove the 12-inch display board. The 8-inch cardboard support board underneath the cake will enable you to place the cake directly onto the cake stand or plate. Simply slip a spatula in between the cake drum and cardboard support board to help lift the cake. Recycle the cake drum or clean it off and save it for a future project.

How many people will my 8-inch round cake serve?

An 8-inch round cake that is 4-5 inches tall can serve up to 20 people based on 1-inch wide slices. The exact amount of servings will vary depending on how the cake is cut.

Is there anything I need to do with the cake before serving?

If chilled in the refrigerator, allow the cake to return to room temperature before serving. Be sure to remove any ribbon or non-edible decorations before cutting and serving.