Sunday, January 22, 2012

Little Cake Purse Tutorial - How to make a purse cake

A few months ago I received a phone call from my mother-in-law's sweet friend Karin. She was organizing a women's retreat and wanted to know if I'd come down and do a cake demo after lunch and talk about my journey into the world of cakes. The theme of the retreat was Faith: A journey from mediocrity to maturity. So, it tied into the theme of the day and would give the ladies something half-time entertainment! :) I was flattered she thought of me and was excited to do it...although, a bit hesitant because I had never done anything like it before! She had been so impressed that I've chosen to use my talent as a blessing to others instead of trying to turn it into a business for profit. So, that's what I talked about. How I started off thinking I'd make this into a business, but how the Lord has really worked on my heart that this talent, for this season of life, is meant to bless others! - and that's it! He has definitely blessed me for being obedient and I have SO enjoyed helping others with their cake journey and have SOOOOO enjoyed blessing those I love with fun, beautiful cakes!! He is gracious and always blesses us for choosing to follow His ways...even though the world is constantly trying to tell us otherwise! :)

So, last Saturday, a cake buddy and sweet friend of mine (Deborah) and I, headed south to Reedsport (about 3.5 hours away on the Oregon Coast) for the retreat. I was going to show how to make a little purse cake. As I was prepping for the retreat, I took some pictures and decided I would do a tutorial for all of you on my blog!! :) Yeah! :) The SUPER unfortunate thing was I didn't get a final picture of my cake!!! I took one, but it was no where to be found when I got home to go through the pictures! :( It was incredibly cute!!! So, I re-created it Friday evening (before all the craziness with my daughter began) and have a final picture for you! - didn't turn out as cute as the original! :) Oh well!!

So, here's what I'm going to show you how to make:
This little cake is made out of 3 thin 6" round cakes, stacked with two layers of filling in between. You could make this any size you'd like following these basic steps.

Step 1:
Stack and fill your cake - mine was approx. 3" thick/tall. Put it in the fridge/freezer until it firms up so you can carve it. The little swirl on top there is a simple syrup.

Step 2:
Cut off the bottom edge as straight as possible. Cut off a top edge as straight as possible. The top edge should be slightly smaller than the bottom. The right side of this pic is my top edge...see it's a bit smaller than the bottom.

Step 3:
Stand it up on it's bottom and check for straightness.
Check the side as well as the front. Continue to trim to make sure it stands nice and straight.

Step 4:
Start trimming down the front and back so it looks the purse is closed.
Make sure both sides are the same! :)

Step 5:
Begin carving the sides in to create the gap of fabric when the purse would be closed. Create a little "V" shape on the sides of the purse with a small knife.

Step 6:
Add a crumb coat of ganache or buttercream. Get it nice and smooth. Then put it in the fridge to firm up over night or a few hours.

Step 7:
Trim your board. Prep the ganache covered cake for covering in fondant by spritzing it with water or water mixed with a little corn syrup.

Step 8:
Roll out your fondant 1/8" - 3/8" thick. Drape over your cake (I have mine sitting up on a little tin so I can get a clean cut on the bottom edge) and start smoothing. Gather the excess fondant on each corner and pinch it (see pic below).

Step 9:
Use a pair of small sharp scissors to trim off the excess fondant as close to the cake as possible without cutting into the cake! :) With warm fingers massage those seams together to make sure they are closed and smooth. You can even use a tiny bit of crisco on your finger tips to help smooth it down. Trim off a little more fondant if it's not laying flat on the cake like the pic below. Don't worry about your seams because you'll be putting on piping later that will hide them. Just make sure you're cutting right on the corners so when you put your piping on it will be hidden! :)
Grab your fondant smoothers and go to town getting the fondant nice and smooth. Use a VERY slightly dampened paper towel or smooth towel to wipe off any excess cornstarch, or rub a very light coating of crisco on the cake to make it a bit more satin-like and to get the cornstarch off.

Step 10:
Use a piece of blank 4x6 photo paper (or a 4x6 piece of card stock) and round the edge off on one side to create a template for the flap. Roll out some fondant and put the photo paper on it, then cut around it. Spritz the back of the fondant with the water/corn syrup solution and lay over your cake making sure it's nice and centered. Use the Wilton fondant embosser wheel for that (click here). Just run it around the edges of your flap and voila!
Front view (above)
Back view (below)
Step 11:
Add the piping in whatever color you'd like. You can either roll fondant ropes by hand or use an clay/fondant extruder. I use this one (click here - I got mine at Michael's) because I can hold it in one hand and position the extruded rope right on my cake with the other hand. If you use a bigger kind, extrude the rope on your counter then apply it on your cake. Cover all seams with your piping and you'll have a really clean looking little purse! :)
Time to decorate it! Use my bow tutorial to create a sweet little bow or create a flower for the front like on this cake.
For the handle, I rolled a rope out and wrapped it around a glass to make it nice and round. I cut the bottom off so it would be square and let it dry over night. I then added just a smidgen of melted chocolate to the bottom of the handle and set it on the cake. I also used melted chocolate to attach the bow.
The little sparrow bird on the bottom is hand painted. I use a picture I found on line for inspiration. I grabbed my black Wilton gel color and mixed a little vodka with it to thin it down. I then used a tiny paint brush and painted away like it was canvas. You could also use your embosser tool to create a quilted look, or paint zebra stripes, giraffe print, etc etc etc! Be creative and go wild!!!

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and will be inspired to make your own! :)



  1. I just loved seeing this tutorial in my inbox this morning. I hope you're daughter is doing better. I know you were scared. Thanks so much for everything you do and share. I needed to read your message this morning. Have a wonderful week!

  2. I love it! What kind of cake do you recommend to stand up to the carving process (and standing on its side?)

    Thank you for sharing your talents!!

  3. Love it!! Thank you so much for the tutorial! I think I'll try it for our Ladies' Bible Study group! Only question is how did you make the handle? Is that modeling chocolate?

  4. Again we have a perfectly wonderful tutorial from you Jessica! I pick up a new little tip from each of your posts. I love to hear the family bits and how God is responsible for the details ...He is thee Master artist! Thank you Jessica!

  5. Anonymous: I use a variation of this cake:

    It's a yummy vanilla cake with great structure for carving! :)

  6. Tote: Yes, the handle is made from modeling chocolate mixed with black fondant. I set it out to dry over night.

  7. Loved watching you make this in person! The carving photos are especially helpful since I always have trouble visualizing the "bones" of any cake. Your work is SO CLEAN!!! And that little handpainted bird! Tiny and adorable! Thanks so much for taking time from your family and busy life to share your beautiful work and amazing talents. And for taking even more time to make a great tutorial to teach all of us to become better. Oh! And the tip about extruding the trim right on to the cake is BRILLIANT!!! Truly grateful here . . .

  8. Thank you for sharing your talent with us! And thank you for sharing your own cake/faith journey. I find myself in a similar position and have been thinking that perhaps God wants me to be blessed and to bless others with the cakes I make instead of trying a business venture with it right now. It's nice to see that someone else has a similar perspective and that making money isn't the most important thing. For me, having this perspective has allowed me to relax and have fun with every cake I make. It has also made me even more open to learning new things (I have so much yet to learn!) and trying to perfect my skills without the pressure of operating a business. God will open doors when and if the time comes. And He is good! Thank you!

  9. Thanks for the tutorial. This is a beautiful purse. It looks perfect and so real!!

  10. Kristen: Love your message! - Thank you! Yes...making cakes for a blessing has blessed me so much and has made cake making much more fun! I can do what I want, when I want and how I want! I would encourage you to try it for a season and watch how blessed you are! :) He is GOOD and loves you so much! :)

  11. Thanks, Jessica! I have been doing this for about two years now and have loved every minute of learning new things. I mostly give my cakes away and I love that. You are right that it is a blessing! And there is a certain freedom, for sure, in doing it this way. I, too, have small children, so my first priority is them. I know you feel the same about your family! (Btw, I'm so glad your daughter is okay! What a scary experience!)

  12. Hi Jessica! I love this cake and the tutorial. Thanks for taking the time to do this. I have a couple of questions if you don't mind...

    Regarding doing a final trim of the cake board to fit exactly along the purse bottom...what do you use to do that? Scissors? Serated knife? I am envisioning little flecks of cardboard flying all around (vivid imagination, I know ;-). Secondly, when you attach the extruded fondant, are you using an "adhesive" of some sort?

    Sorry for asking 2 things. I am such a visual learner BUT having this tutorial helped me reduce the overall quantity. LOL.

  13. Jennifer Lane: I use an exacto knife to cut off the board right up against the cake. Then I take a little ganache and "spackle" that board a bit to the cake to make sure it's all nice and straight.

    I just use a bit of water on the seams to attach the rolled out fondant (for the piping).

  14. Your cakes are just amazing!!! And you are so sweet to put together these tutorials to help out the rest of us!!!

  15. this is really amazing, your website has such beautiful cakes, they are perfect. And I am very impress about how generous you are to share all your work on such details. I wish you the best! thank you.

  16. I love this little purse...along with all your other cakes!! You are so talented. I love that you are using your talent to serve the Lord and make others smile...I have just taken 2 of the Wilton courses and I am hoping to bless others in some way as well. Thank you for being such an inspiration to other Christian sisters!

  17. You make this look so today, i have been thinking about it all day...i decided, what the heck...i'm gonna give it a try! My cakes just came out of the oven and they are cooling...say prayers that i at least make something edible!

  18. Patricia: YEAH! Send me a pic when you get it done! :) Have fun!!! ;)

  19. Hi Jessica, I adore your blog, you are so talented and I can't get enough of your wonderfully informative tutorials.
    Amazing! Amazing! Amazing! I am going to try this! Thank you so much for sharing!
    Regards from Israel!!!

  20. Love this little cake!! Tried it last week, definitely need more make it look so easy :) I need some advice...I bought an extruder (not yours but one with good reviews) and it was a pain! I had to microwave the fondant and cake it in crisco and corn syrup to get it to go through. It still came out cracked and not as smooth as I'd hoped plus it was super shiny from all the stuff I put on it (I prefer the dull look). I prefer the look of rolling it out by hand but have a hard time keeping it uniform. Any tips on the extruder or rolling out by hand would be much appreciated. Thanks so are such an inspiration!

  21. Katie: Sorry you had a rough time. I've found with my extruder if I keep adding crisco to it so it's the consistancy of chewing gum, it goes right through without any issues. Also, it's really hard to use with modeling really needs to be fondant.

    A trick for rolling it out and making it all uniform is to roll it out using your fondant smoother instead of your hand and to put something under that smoother (next to your rope) that is the size of rope you want. For instance, if you want the rope to be the size of a colored pencil, then put a colored pencil under the fondant smoother with the fondant rope and roll it back and forth. What happens is that pencil keeps the rope the same size all the way down. It stops it from getting too small! :) Works great!! :) Best of luck!

  22. Great tips, thanks! One last there a way to make the rope look less shiny once it comes through with all that crisco on it...or is that not an issue for you??

  23. Katie: It's not an issue for me because it makes it looks more leather like and you'll find if you let it sit for a while, it'll absorb the crisco and the shine will go away. If it's still too shiny, take a clean soft cloth (or paper towel) and gently wipe it after it's set up a bit.

  24. Hi Jessica!
    Thank you very much for a beautiful tutorial!
    I will try to make this cute little cake and i was wondering which filling you used?

  25. Anonymous: I used my Swiss-Meringue Buttercream recipe! Have fun! :)

  26. Dear Jessica,

    you are making so wonderfull cakes!!!
    I just want to briefly say thank you so much for sharing your experience, your knowledge and your time.

    Greatings from Germany!
    God bless you!


  27. I loved this tutorial...I made this cake for my sister in laws bday and it turned out really cute. my sister in law loved it! thanks for sharing and keep the tutorials coming! I love your cakes. you are so talented and this is my new go to source for ideas.

  28. Happened to find your site using a google search. Just wanted to say...YOU ARE AMAZING! Well done on your beautiful creations. I started doing cake decorating as a hobby a few years ago & I know the amount of work that goes into making each cake look fabulous! I wish u everything of the best!

    1. WOW! :) Thank you sooo much for your encouragment!! Blessings!

  29. Thanks for the tutorial, saw it on Cake Central and finally got a chance to make it over the weekend! (

    Everyone loved it, the girls at the party couldn't bear to cut into it! You're SUPER amazingly talented btw!

    Sarah, Melbourne Australia

  30. JESSICA, please I have to make this cake for 15 people, you can give me some advice on the measures in centimeters if you can? thanks ^ ^


      You can use that link above to convert inches into cm if you need! :) I don't know much about that!! :)

      For 15 people you'll want to make 3 or 4 of these little cakes or make it 3-4 times bigger. Blessings!

  31. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  32. Ms Jessica, this may sound as a silly question, but how do you smooth your ganache. I seemed to have a hard time. Thanks for your reply.

  33. Wow I'm going to try to make that cake for my kids party

  34. I will try to make this cake tonight but had a few questions:
    1)Why do you cut the cake into 3 layers? or did you make 3 separate cakes? Can you just have 1 layer or NO layers?
    2) How does the cake stand upright without separating horizontally (moving apart)?
    3)In one picture, you state that Simple Syrup is the swirl on top, what does that do for the cake?
    4) Did the handle fall over & di you say you used modeling chocolate or the fondant? or both?

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  38. Wow! Thanks a lot for sharing your talent with us. I really loved the style you pack the cake. I saw these carry bags in the Coach Clearance sale. But truly nice efforts! Keep sharing!

  39. Job well done. I'm really blessed with your tutorial and I appreciate the anointing of God in your life. Thank you so much for you are a blessing to cake industry. I celebrate you.
    Thanks and more grace from above.
    Abi (London)

  40. Job well done. I'm really blessed with your tutorial and I appreciate the anointing of God in your life. Thank you so much for you are a blessing to cake industry. I celebrate you.
    Thanks and more grace from above.
    Abi (London)

  41. Hi Jessica, I love your work question can you recommend a chocolate recipe that can be carved. Thank