Seldom does a craft tool surprise and delight me as much as the Cricut Cake by Provo Craft has managed to do. The Cricut Cake, for those of you who are unfamiliar, is a food-safe electronic die cutting machine that’s designed to be used for cake decorating.
In January I got to see the Cricut Cake in action at the Craft and Hobby Association trade show. I was impressed by the demos and the sample cake displays (below) and immediately thought this machine would be a (cliche alert!) game-changer in the cake decorating world.
With a $400 (retail) price tag, I was concerned that the casual home cake decorator would be able to utilize this machine to her best advantage. Is it easy enough for a newbie crafter and cake decorator? How difficult is it to maintain? How good is the quality? Is it cost-effective? Can it do more than just fondant?
In early June I was privileged to receive a Cricut Cake for review purposes. I’ve been playing with it as much as I can in my free time and have to say that I LOVE THIS MACHINE and it warrants my highest recommendation but not without some caveats.
First, the Cricut Cake is easy to use. The process goes something like this:
- Plug in the machine. Turn it on.
- Insert a design cartridge.
- Select the design and size you want.
- Place a fondant sheet onto the mat. Insert mat into the feeder.
- Press a button to make a cut.
- The Cricut Cake operates a bit like a printer but instead of printing, there’s a blade inside that’s cutting the material you send through the feeder.
- The mat comes out of the feeder. Peel away the fondant to reveal your cut designs.
(From the January CHA show 2010 + OhMyCrafts)
The Cricut Cake works marvelously with Provo Craft’s fondant sheets. Every cut I’ve made with the Cricut brand sheets has come out perfect – except in the case of operator error. The Cricut frosting sheets cost around $14.00 for a 3 pack. They’re not super cheap but you’re paying for the convenience here and it’s worth it if you’ve not worked with rolled fondant before. It’s worth noting that the sheets come in white, pastels, and primary colors.
While the Cricut Cake is easy to operate, there is a learning curve when getting started. I found myself futzing quite a bit with the pressure settings and learning the basic functions before I got the hang of it. I went through quite a bit of the frosting sheets and other materials in the first day. All in all, that wasn’t a big deal for me but if you don’t have patience for fidgeting with gadgets this may not be for you.
The highlight of the Cricut Cake is that it cuts more than the frosting sheets. I’ve cut tortillas (diyToddler totally enjoyed his super special quesadillas, thankyouverymuch), fondant, gum paste, and fruit roll ups (didn’t work well for me). What really excites me is being able to cut sugar cookie dough. I love making cookies with the Cricut Cake!
I found that rolling out my own fondant to be tricky. Getting uniform thickness is important so that the blade cuts through the design. It’s best to have an X-acto knife on hand for extracting pieces and finishing cuts that don’t go through.
Somewhat of a downside is that the Cricut Cake is limited by the designs available on the Cricut cartridges so you can’t really go wild with custom design. The good news is that the Cake can use any of the Cricut cartridges and there are a lot. In addition to the ones designed specifically for the Cake, there are dozens and dozens originally meant for paper crafting. The selection is quite extensive with themes that’ll appeal to most. Even better news is that Martha Stewart Crafts has teamed up with Provo Craft to release their own line of cartridges exclusively through HSN. Martha’s cartridges are around $70. Regular Cricut cartridges vary widely in price though you can find them in the $25 range if you shop online.
I need to note that the Cricut Cake is to be used for food ONLY. While the paper craft cartridges work in this machine, it is not meant to be used for paper or anything non-edible for food safety reasons. This is also the reason why fondant and foodstuff should never, ever be used in regular die cutting machines (including the Cricut Expression, the paper crafting sister machine of the Cake).
Machine maintenance is a breeze. The removable parts are dishwasher safe and were relatively easy to clean. I say relatively because anything that comes in contact with fondant and sugary stuff will require some effort to clean up no matter how you work with it.
This machine is awesome and works exactly as it should. I found it to be very well-made as is my experience with most Provo Craft products. (I’ve purchased a Cricut Expression, Cuttlebug, and Yudu in the past. Love ‘em and they’re all working great.)
The operating costs of the Cricut Cake (frosting sheets, cartridges, the machine itself) make it a luxury purchase unless the user does a lot of cake and sugar cookie baking throughout the year. If you’re thinking of splurging for one for just your wedding cake, it may not be the best budget-friendly option. If that’s not a concern, then I highly recommend it for someone who wants to get hands on with some cake decorating.
I’ll be sharing some of the DIY goodness I’ve made with the Cricut Cake soon!