1. For a circle birthday cake, ice an 8-in. round in buttercream; smooth with a paper towel. Use tip No. 3 to pipe a message in the center of the cake in dark pink icing as well as circles.
2. Continue the circle theme by piping circles of green dots with tip No. 3. Add some neon yellow circles with tip No. 3, and pipe orange dots, also with tip No. 3. Pipe the same circles in the same colors around the side of the cake. Add a zigzag neon yellow top border using tip No. 5. Pipe a green band bottom border also with tip No. 5.
1. For a tiered love cake, cover a 6-in. round with white fondant and stack it on top of an 8-in. round iced in buttercream. Mix black gel with a little water, and use a small paintbrush to write the words to a love poem on the 6-in. round; begin at the top of the tier and work your way down.
2. Use tip No. 125 to pipe layers of buttercream ombre ruffles around the side of the 8-in. round. Begin with dark pink icing at the base of the tier and gradually lighten the shade as you work your way up.
3. Shape cardboard into a cone and cover with plastic wrap. Use different sized round cutters to create petals using various shades of pink fondant. Ruffle the edges a bit with a ball tool, and place them on the cardboard to dry.
4. Dab water on the backs of the petals to stick them together, and then pipe small dollops of icing on the 6-in. tier to adhere the flowers to the cake. Use tip No. 5 to pipe white dots for the center of the flower.
5. Pipe a bead border around the base of the 6-in. tier using tip No. 5.
6. Shape two lovebirds, each a different shade of pink, out of fondant. Pipe wings and a beak out of buttercream and paint on black eyes. Place them on top of the cake.
7. Pearlize the entire cake by airbrushing a combination of luster dust mixed with orange extract. This two-tiered cake is ideal for small weddings, anniversaries and wedding showers.
Rachel Vaughn, a decorator at The Cakery, Dayton, Ohio, has been decorating for five years. She got her start when she attended a decorating class as a precursor to culinary school. The instructor spotted her talent and instead of attending culinary school, Vaughn went straight into the industry. For the last two years, she has competed in regional decorating competitions. In 2011, she attended her first national competition, and brought home first place this year in the 12th Annual Cake Decorating Competition.
Rachel Vaughn, winner of the 12th Annual Creative Decorating Competition, shares some of her favorite designs. She works as a decorator at The Cakery, Dayton, Ohio.