I finally did it...I made a professional style birthday cake. It was layered, filled, and decorated. Ok so let me backtrack a little. My sisters birthday was earlier this month and I decided that I should try my hand at making her a cake...I mean worst case scenario it would come out like crap and I would have to spend money to buy a cake. So in preparation I started to research recipes and find out what flavors she would like without directly asking her since I wanted it to be somewhat of a surprise. I decided on a buttermilk cake recipe and a italian meringue buttercream recipe I found at baking911. She hinted that she would like coconut cake but I didn't want to change the cake recipe so I decided I would make the filling coconut flavored. I started the cake the day before her birthday I baked the buttermilk cake and it shrunk a little but it was still good and in the future I will keep in a couple minutes longer than the recipe states. I also did cupcakes for her and used a vanilla butter cake recipe also from baking 911. While the cake cooled I started to prepare the icing for the filling and crumb coat. I also put the cupcakes in the oven. This batch I flavored coconut by using coconut extract in place of the vanilla and adding 1.5 tbsp powdered coconut milk. This was soo nerve racking because it was my first time making a buttercream away from school and I haven't had a baking class since 2007. I did mess up my first meringue by forgetting to switch from whip to paddle but the second time around it came out fine and I went along making the buttercream. I dont have the steadiest hand and when it came time to level the cake I decided to forgo the trusty serrated knife method and use my new wilton cake leveler. It really made the job quick and easy. I proceeded to fill the cake and do the crumb coat and put the cake in the fridge. The cupcakes were done and I put them in my cupcake holder overnight. The next morning I started on my final batch of italian meringue buttercream to do the final coat of frosting for the cake and frost the cupcakes. To decorate the cake I wanted to use pink trim and turquoise but for some reason the turquoise came out sea foam colored. The theme for her was barbie but she was turning 22 so I wanted the barbie theme to be girly but mature. I used gel colors from americolor that I had on hand and various sprinkles and sanding sugars to decorate. I also used a martini shaped cookie cutter to decorate the top of the cake. When my sis saw the cake she was soo excited and she loved it. That was better than any payment I could receive for a cake.