Shaping Cupcakes to Suit Your Design
A lot of times people want uniquely shaped cakes; like Sponge Bob or another character. So they go out and pay the price for the pans that have these particular shapes. The problem is there isn't always a pan the shape you want or maybe there is but it isn't as large as you had hoped it would be. But there is a solution to that problem in most cases. Cupcakes.
By using cupcakes to make your cake you can almost always create the shape and size of cake you want. You have to determine first how many people you want to feed. In most cases it's easier to make a specified shape by using a minimum of 24 cupcakes. If you have a simpler shape such as a number or a shape like a circle and definitely a square, you can use less cupcakes and still obtain the shape fairly easily.
Once you have determined the size you need purchase your board and supplies. You'll want to practice making the desired shape with the cupcake liners remembering to leave a little space between them for the overflow of the cupcake top. Once you have gotten the shape you can do a lightly mark the placement of the cupcakes on the board so you won't have to redo the placement again once the cupcakes are made. Before doing this though; one thing I always do is turn the board around so you get different views of the cake to make sure it looks balanced on all sides.
Let them cool completely after baking and lining them up with the shape drawn on the board. When you're ready to ice it's better if you can use icing bags with cupcakes if possible. If you don't have these simply use plastic baggies with an appropriate size hole cut in the corner.
You may have decided to use multiple colors. If so go ahead and outline the areas of color. Fill in the inside edges of the cupcakes first then go back over it until the holes are covered. Save the outer edges for last so you have a smoother looking edge. Once you have all the holes covered add extra icing over the entire area. This is necessary with cupcakes in order to obtain a smoother surface. Smooth cake with spatula or icing spreader. Finally carefully outline the outer edge of the cake.
Note: One thing I do to get an even smoother surface (for butter cream icing) is to use a clean paper towel, that has little or no texture to it. I wait until the icing has dried and then I lay the paper towel carefully on the cake and smooth it with small gentle sweeps of my hand or a fondant smoother.