Reported by Taylor Usry
I was recently lucky enough to get the chance to test drive the newest toy available – the Martha Stewart Cricut Cake machine. This is a match made in heaven! I literally heard angels singing the day it arrived – I am pretty sure my FedEx guy thought I was nuts. The machine came with everything I needed to get started (minus the food materials):
- A 12″x12″ food-safe cutting mat (complete with grid marks in inches and centimeters, as well as circles in inch diameters up to 12″)
- Blade assembly
- Silicone cartridge plug and skirt (to prevent food from getting in there)
- Blade cleaning basket and cleaning brush
- Power adapter, several manuals/quick start guides and a keypad protector (also made of silicone and designed to go over the entire display and keypad)
In addition to all of that the machine came with the All Occasion cartridge (I believe this comes with the purchase of all machines); mine also included the Elegant Cake Art cartridge (both are shown below).
There are several other gorgeous cartridges available. The cartridges all retail individually for around $69.95, although you can find them cheaper at some online stores. The machine itself retails for approximately $400.
|All Occasion Cartridge|
|Elegant Cake Art cartridge|
The Martha Stewart Cricut Cake machine itself is absolutely gorgeous. A total kitchen appliance work of art. My husband is a nut for anything kitchen-related, but never crafty stuff. However when I pulled it out of the box even he was impressed! One great feature is the pop-up digital display. That makes viewing it from any angle very handy. You can also see, in the picture below, how the silicone keypad protector hangs down over the keypad area slightly.
The Cricut Cake has all of the functions that its paper-cutting cousins do, plus a few extra. The basic functions (Load/Unload, Real Dial Size, Shift, Set Cut Area, etc) are all pretty self explanatory. There are 6 new gray keys in the upper left corner of the keypad. These “Creative Feature” keys vary between cartridges, but basically they allow you to create alphabets, phrases, and even more decorations.
The first thing I tried in my machine was cookie dough. This is the thing I was most excited about – churning out tons of cookies just in time for the holidays! I did both made-from-scratch cookie dough as well as the pre-made roll of Pillsbury cookie dough (you just add flour to it to stiffen it up a bit). I did extensive research online before I tried this to see what tips other people had to offer. And I took a few deep breaths, because even the ProvoCraft instructions say to expect a learning curve.
I rolled my dough out as thin as I possibly could to still have cookies. It was about 1/8″ thick – not much wider than a nickel (which I read was the ideal height to be under). As recommended by the people at Provo Craft (but not written in the instructions; I spoke to them directly) and several people online, I froze my rolled out dough for 3-5 minutes before attempting to cut it.
As you can see, it started cutting beautifully. But the dough thaws quickly (very, very quickly) and as it curved back around it started to get a bit jagged. I’m not sure it would be able to cut a whole sheet of these because although it cuts quickly, the machine just can’t cut faster than the dough thaws.
The cookie turned out decently; it’s pictured above in the undecorated form. A word of caution – refreeze the dough before you attempt to remove it from the cutting mat. Otherwise the dough will tear or wrinkle in on itself because it is so thin.
Next, I tried fondant, both made from scratch and the store bought Wilton sheets. Like the cookie dough, I rolled it out to about 1/8″. That did NOT do the trick even though I froze it before cutting the edges were still jagged. I emailed the super helpful people at Provo Craft again, and they recommended rolling it out thin enough to barely see the grid lines beneath it. I’ll admit I thought they were nuts, but it worked like a charm! The same thing holds true for the fondant as the cookie dough, though. You need to refreeze the fondant before attempting to take it off the sheet.
It didn’t turn out as smooth as I wanted it to when I put it on the cupcake, but that’s because the top was slightly rounded. But as you can see with the butterfly below, rolling out the fondant super thin and freezing it for about 20 minutes prior to cutting it made all the difference.
After five minutes out of the freezer, I tried to cut the more intricate doily design shown below. The edges cut just fine, as did the majority of the smaller inner circles. But when I tried to get it off the mat it just sort of fell apart. This happened with all of the more intricate designs I did. I’m not sure if I didn’t let them freeze enough, if I rolled it out too thin, or what I did wrong.
I also tried some of the longer designs to make a border to go around cakes. I’ve seen some gorgeous ones online, but again for me they just didn’t work.
I didn’t try gum paste, which seems to yield amazing results. I did get these two tips directly from ProvoCraft (and they apply to any material you are cutting): 1) Roll it out as thin as you can, so that the lines on the cutting mat are barely visible beneath the material; and 2) Freeze the fondant or gum paste for 30 minutes prior to cutting it. Those two things make all the difference, I promise!
A few tips I learned through trial and error:
- Invest in more than one 12″x12″ cutting mat. This way you don’t have to wait while you freeze (or refreeze) your fondant, cookie dough, or gum paste.
- Be very careful to not go over the guidelines on the edges of the cutting mat (trim them back if you do) – if the roller picks them up it’s a mess!
- Roll your material out as thin as you can get it, and then roll it a little more. It works best to roll it directly on the cutting mat, so nothing tears when you have to transfer it.
- Always remember to apply plenty of shortening to the cutting mat.
- Refreeze the material before removing it from the mat – this helps avoid human error 😉
And now for the cleanup. Really, who likes this part? I know I don’t. But the Cricut Cake surprised me – it cleans up like a dream. Soooo easy! The blade can go in the basket (remember the tea steeper I mentioned?) and straight into the dishwasher — just the blade, not the housing. All of the mats and silicone covers can be washed with warm soapy water, and clean up really easily. As for the machine itself, there is a small brush about the size of a toothbrush, with stiffer bristles, that will brush off dried food particles from the rollers. Just press the load/unload mat button to move them. Once the rollers are clean, you can wipe them with a damp cloth.
According to the ProvoCraft FAQ section on cleaning, it may be necessary to manually move the carriage (cutting part) to the left side of the machine to reach the right side rollers. If you do this, the carriage will return to the proper place once you turn the machine back on. If only cleaning the rest of my kitchen was this quick and easy!
Overall, this is a great machine. The variety of cartridges will create beautiful art for cakes, cookies, and cupcakes. I’ll be totally honest and say that the learning curve is pretty steep, but with practice and some tinkering you can get good results. I think this is an excellent addition to the kitchen of any serious baker! The ProvoCraft site has a fabulous FAQ section with all sorts of tips, hints, and suggestions about the machine, and if you contact them directly they are equally as helpful (and friendly)! I’m really glad I got to try it out!
Here is a video demonstration about the Cricut Cake machines:
To wrap it all up, here are some pros and cons:
- Very sleek design – it looks great on the counter
- Easy to clean
- Allows you to make uniform design elements for cake/cupcake decorating, as well as cookies.
- Only comes with one cutting mat, which can slow things down
- It is necessary to do reading online in addition to the manual before operating the machine
- Requires a lot of counter space to use. The recommendation is 12″ clearance from the edge of your table/counter and 24″ behind for proper movement of the mats.
The kind folks at Provo Craft will be giving one lucky winner their very own Martha Stewart Cricut Cake!
To enter, just leave a comment on one of the “Vendor Spotlight: Martha Stewart Cricut ” article. Answer any one of these questions in the Comments Section right below this article on our website.
Do what would you use the Martha Stewart Cricut Cake to cut? Are you a professional cake decorator or a hobbyist?
One comment per person, per article, please. You have until Sunday, November 21st 6pm CST to enter.