Cakes like this can be time consuming but careful preparation can drastically reduce the amount of work. First, carefully read through the instructions ENTIRELY before you begin. This will help you plan ahead and decide how much cake and frosting you need as well as which colors and tips you need for decorating. If you are using a specific cake mold and have the instruction booklet, it usually details this information for you. I suggest making the frosting ahead of time. The above butter-cream icing recipe can be stored for up to a week in the refrigerator in a sealed container. If you are doing a cake that uses a lot of colors, be sure to make sure you have all the right colors before hand. I also suggest purchasing disposable piping bags (you don't want to have to stop and wash out a piping bag when changing colors). It's also helpful to tint your frosting ahead of time. Divide out your frosting into the amounts you will need for the different colors (again the instruction booklet should spell this out) and tint them to the desired colors. I suggest not tinting the frosting until about one day ahead of time.
Its a good idea to make the cake the day before, and allow it to set out over night so it can cool completely. That way, the morning of "cake day," everything is done except to ice the cake. This makes the whole process a lot easier.
A few more tips:
- Always a good idea to have some extra frosting on hand in case you mess up
- Be sure you thoroughly grease and flour the cake pan, or use a cake release spray
- Allow the cake to cool completely before attempting to ice
- If the icing becomes too runny and difficult to work with, stiffen it up by placing it in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes
- Do the outline of the cake before filling it in. Also, try to work from the inside out. Get the parts in the center of the cake before you move to the outside. The sides should be the very last thing you do.
So these types of cakes be intimidating and seem like tons of work but if you break it out into steps and are methodical in your approach, it makes things a lot easier (especially for us domestically inept people). If you can't bring yourself to tackle the challenge, pay a friend to do it for you =).