You probably don't know that I was very hesitant to start a cake blog.  I've only been making cakes for a couple of years and I'm by no means an expert.  Most of what I have learned has been through trial and error and my instruction consists of youtube videos and other cake maker's advice.  However, my family convinced me that it was interesting enough to pursue....and it's a lot of fun.  

That being said, today I entered a new realm of cake making and you all are coming along for the ride.  After a year of wanting it, I finally got an airbrush gun with a compressor.  Now I can start painting cakes.  This will, theoretically, open up a whole new world of opportunity for me...from painting details like this runway cake, to giving my cakes a final shimmer.  And I'm having so much fun with my new toy.  If any of you have any tips, feel free to comment.  I need all the help I can get.  :-)

This particular cake was a birthday cake for a friend who is just about to get his private pilots license.  They had a toy plane they wanted to use on top of the cake, so they just needed the runway to showcase it.  
While I baked the cake (standard yellow with buttercream), I estimated how wide I wanted my runway.  
Once I had decided on a width, I cut off the corners of my guide.  I planned to use the paper as a shield on the cake so I could spray two colors and they wouldn't mix.  In hindsight, next time I will use cardboard instead of paper.  The paper was pretty flimsy and blew around while I was trying to spray.
Then I frosted the cake...  It's two my sheet cakes are about three inches high.
I smoothed it using the paper towel method... (google 'paper towel smooth' if you are interested in how this is done).
This was my set up for painting.  I bought a couple of science fair boards from my kid's school ($2 each) and covered the counter with plastic wrap (yay for youtube and my mother for that tip).  I will eventually get a plastic table cloth but the plastic wrap worked well enough for this project.  

This is where I started arguing with my husband.  Dan paints cars so he is all too familiar with the ins and outs of spraying and he was of the opinion that paint particles shouldn't be flying through the house while I painted (even if they are edible).  So he devised a plan to make a cake spray booth for my work.  I'm not kidding here, the man is meticulous.  The thing would have a filter and a fan...the whole shebang!  In the end, I told him I would cover my mouth and nose with a cloth...and then forgot to.

I also learned from how to videos to keep a bowl and warm water by me for cleaning out the gun when I am switching colors or taking a break from spraying.  Leaving paint in the gun is a big no no.
This is a picture of my new air compressor.  Isn't it cute?  There are several options for compressors and air guns.  You can get one specifically designed for cakes at a craft store or cake specialty store, but I've seen them cost as much as $300!  This one came from Harbor Freight and cost me 90 bucks.  Sweet.  

And here is where I fly by the seat of my pants.  I thought it would be a good idea to paint the corners first then fill in the black.  I now know, however, that it works better to start with the darkest colors and then add the lighter colors.  I ended up bleeding into the green and black bleeding into green shows up, whereas if it had been green in black, it wouldn't have.
You can see that I got one of the lines pretty clear, but the other one was a bit blurred.  

I wanted to spray only the top of the cake, so while I sprayed I aimed away from me and tried to keep the spray flowing off the back side of the cake.  I still got a little over spray on the sides of the cake...not quite sure how to avoid that in the future.  Ideas?

Overall though, I was pretty happy with this first attempt. 
I cut out letters with alphabet cutters and details for the runway with a pizza cutter.
Then I set to work putting on the details.
Add a final border, and we were good to go.  I was really happy with how it turned out, especially a first attempt and I can't wait to try it some more.
So I know that I haven't done a lot lately but I have quite a few projects coming up.  This cake was for my daughter's 9th birthday.  I wanted a cake that was fairly easy because I've been trying to find some good scratch recipes.  So my main focus was on the cake itself, rather than how I was decorating it.  This cake is great too, because anyone could do it.  For a simpler version just do the 8 inch bottom tier and cover the entire top with M&M's.  Easy peasy.

The top tier was made from the Hershey's recipe, Perfectly Chocolate Cake.  I will share this recipe because I absolutely LOVE it!!  I've found a scratch chocolate cake that I will use forever!!  It's light and moist and delish.  It's also very easy to work with.  It's everything I've been looking for in a scratch recipe.  Yay!!!

"Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake
2 c. sugar
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 c. milk
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. boiling water

Heat oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9-in. round pans (I used 6 inch pans for the top tier of this cake and made cupcakes with the leftovers).  Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla; beat on med. speed 2 min. Stir in boiling water. (batter will be very thin) Pour into pans. 

Bake 30-35 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 min.; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

I used a Hershey's buttercream recipe for the frosting too.  This frosting was heavenly but wouldn't be good for traditional cake decorating.  It's too goopy for real decorating and doesn't hold it's form well.  I used it anyway because I love how it tastes, and I knew I'd just be covering the whole cake up anyway.

"Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Frosting:
1/2 c. butter or margarine
2/3 c. cocoa
3 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating on med. speed to spreading consistency. Add more milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. Makes about 2 cups.

I tripled the recipe for the two tiers, but could have gotten away with just doubling it.  
The bottom tier was a vanilla cake I found on the bakerella blog.  It was very good but I'm not posting the recipe because I probably won't use it again.  It tasted great, but it was very heavy and dense.  It was moist, but the kids just didn't like the texture well.  So I'd say it's good for adults, but not the keeper recipe I was hoping for.  In case you are interested, here is where I found the recipe:  The bottom tier was an 8 inch tier.
After the cakes were baked I covered a cake board and a 7 inch cardboard circle with foil.  
Then I assembled the bottom tier.  I put a bit of frosting on the board to hold the cake and started alternating cakes and frosting.
Once all three tiers were assembled, I covered the whole cake in frosting and put it in the fridge.
I thought it would be a nice change to add some fresh strawberries to the chocolate tier, so I cut some up.
Then I started assembling the chocolate tier.  I leveled the cakes (incidentally, I made the three tiered layers just under 1 inch thick and the two tiered layers 1 1/2 inches thick).  
I used Kit Kat candy bars on the sides.  The 8 inch tier took 10 full size bars.  I bought these king size packages that came with 3 full sized bars.  The 6 inch tier took 7 full size bars.
Because I had refridgerated the cakes before I decorated them, I had to pipe a bit of frosting on the cold cake so the candy would stick.  Then I just went around the cake and placed on the Kit Kats.  I then used a ribbon to tighten them up a bit and hold them into place.  I wouldn't skip the rippon as it really helps keep it all in place.
Because I was stacking cakes, I used a plastic rod to hold the weight of the second cake.  I intentionally kept the cake just over three inches high so there was room for the m&m's to cover the top portions.
Because this frosting was so sticky, I was afraid that the cakeboard from the top tier would bring the frosting up with it when I took the cake apart to cut so I did something with this cake that I've never done before.  I placed a small circle of parchment paper between the tiers before I stacked them.
I stacked the cakes and they were ready for the finishing touches.
It was a huge success and of course the kids LOVED it!  Who wouldn't?  The candy on the cake added a nice touch.