For some, cake decorating is a hobby, and for others, it is a career. The amateurs are those who find it fun and gratifying to bake the cakes and then decorate them for their family and friends, saving money by doing it themselves. With expert training along with good decorating tips and ideas, anyone can master this art. With this art form you will be able to stretch your imagination. If you continue building your skills, you will experience the joy of making others happy with your expertise.
The art of decorating cakes takes place when a man or woman has turned the kitchen into an art studio. When a cake is decorated in an artistic design it is pleasing to both the creator and the recipient. Creating a cake does not have to be a stressful experience, you just need to get creative. Don’t be afraid to try new ideas and techniques. For the amateur, it is the simple cake decorating tips, which are the best ways to help you get started. Decorating can be as simple as using a stencil and dusting confectioner’s sugar or cocoa powder on the top of a cake.
Cakes can be iced with butter cream, royal fondant, or cooked icing. Adding to the icing cakes can be topped with flowers, spun sugar, or candy. Cakes can be created to look like a hot dog, pizza, or just about anything you have the imagination to create.
If you want to be an amateur cake decorator, you will need to learn the basics and pick up as many of the tips you can. There are many tips and ideas widely available. You may decide to continue making and decorating cakes as a pastime or you may decide to look into making a career out of decorating and baking cakes.
Whatever your desires or your goals when it comes to cake decorating, now that you are armed with this guide dedicated to cake decorating mastery, you will become a force to be reckoned with and win the envy and admiration and praise of those around you… all while having incredible fun as you go!
To begin decorating, you will need to ensure that you have all of the decorating tools needed.
Tips (otherwise called tubes) are an integral part of decorating cakes. Tips are simple metal cones, which you squeeze icing or a medium through to form different shapes and designs.
The size and shape of the opening on a decorating tube determines the type of decorations the tip will produce. There are 7 basic decorating tip groups: round, star, leaf, drop flower, rose, basket-weave and specialized.
A new decorator should have at least one or two tips from the first five tip groups. Then, as you become more proficient in your decorating you will want to expand your collection with tips from other groups.
Today, we will walk you through the process of trimming and splitting a cake into layers, icing it, and then finishing it with a few simple decorating techniques.
Don’t worry; you won’t need a pastry bag or tips, just a little patience. We recommend that you equip yourself with a few tools that can make all the difference in the finished appearance of the cake and minimize your frustration:
– a long serrated knife for trimming and cutting
– a 10-inch flexible icing spatula
– cardboard rounds, and, ideally, a rotating cake stand.
For an alternative to the rotating cake stand, improvise by setting a dinner plate upside down on top of an upside- down cake pan. The cake won’t spin freely, as it does on a rotating cake stand, but this arrangement does elevate the cake and gives you an edge to grip and spin.
LEVELING AND SPLITTING THE CAKE
A cake can be cut into layers, or cakes baked separately can be layered together.
Either way, level cakes are much easier to ice than mounded ones that must be supplemented with an overabundance of icing. Use a long serrated knife to level an uneven cake and/or to cut it into layers. When the cake has cooled completely, set it on a cardboard round that is cut about 1⁄8 inch larger than the cake.
Place the cake close to the edge of the counter for more clearance when cutting.
First, determine the cake’s lowest point. Steady the cake by gently pressing an outstretched hand on its surface. Holding the knife parallel to the work surface and using a steady sawing motion, begin cutting at the same level as the cake’s lowest point, slicing off the mound. Remove the trimmed area.
If you are cutting the cake into layers, measure the height of the cake (that has been levelled, if necessary) and cut a small incision into the side with a paring knife to mark the desired thickness of your layers. Repeat every 3 or 4 inches around the circumference of the cake.
With a serrated knife held parallel to the work surface, cut superficially into the cake. Then, with an outstretched palm gently pressed on the surface, slowly spin the cake away from you while pulling the knife toward you. The goal is to connect the incisions and score the cake, not slice it, to create a clearly defined midpoint. Following the midpoint-marking, cut deeper and deeper in the same manner.
Gradually move the knife closer to the cake’s center with each rotation. When the knife progresses past the cake’s center, the cut is complete. Carefully slide the knife out then remove the cake from the cardboard round.
ICING THE CAKE
When filling and icing a cake with a butter-cream frosting, the challenge is to prevent crumbs from catching in the icing.
To help frosting spread more smoothly, get rid of loose crumbs with a pastry brush.
Cold icing is difficult to spread and pulls on the surface of the cake, so if you’ve made the icing ahead and chilled it, give it ample time to warm and soften. Also, placing the cake’s sturdy bottom crust face-up on the top layer minimizes crumbs and provides distinct, clean edges that are easy to ice. Spreading a thin coating of frosting on the sides helps seal in any crumbs, allowing for a smoother overall look.
Finally, applying a base coat, or “crumb coat,” of icing seals in loose crumbs so that they do not mar the cake’s appearance.
To anchor the cake, spread a dab of frosting in the center of a cardboard round cut slightly larger than the cake. Center the upper layer of a split cake crust-side up or one cake of separately baked layers bottom-side up on the cardboard round.
Spread a dab of frosting on the center of the cake stand, then set the cardboard round with the cake on the stand.
Place a large blob in the center of the cake and spread it to the edges with an icing spatula. Imagine that you are pushing the filling into place rather than scraping it on as if it were peanut butter on a slice of toast.
Don’t worry if crumbs are visible in the icing; since the filling will be sandwiched between layers, these crumbs will not be noticeable.
To level the icing and remove any excess, hold the spatula at a 45 degree angle to the cake and, if using a rotating cake stand, turn the cake.
If you’re not using a rotating stand, hold the spatula at the same angle, and, starting at the edge farthest away from you, gently drag the spatula toward you. It will take a few sweeps to level the icing.
Using a second cardboard round, slide the top cake layer crust-side up on top of the frosted bottom layer, making sure that the layers are aligned.
Press the cake firmly into place.
A thin base coat of icing helps seal in crumbs. To coat the top, place a blob of icing in the center of the cake and spread it out to the edges, letting any excess hang over the edge. Don’t worry if it is imperfect.
Scoop up a large dab of icing on the spatula’s tip: Holding the spatula perpendicular to the cake spread the icing on the side of the cake with short side-to-side strokes.
Repeat until the entire side is covered with a thin coating.
Refrigerate the cake until the icing sets, about 10 minutes.
Apply a final thick coat of icing to the top and the sides, following the steps above, making sure that the coat is even and smooth.
When icing the sides, apply a coat thick enough to cover and conceal the cardboard round. Dipping the spatula into hot water will help create a smooth coat.
As you ice the top and sides, a ridge will form along the edge where they meet.
After you’ve finished icing, hold the spatula at an angle, and, with a very light hand, starting at the farthest edge of the cake, smooth the ridge toward the center. Rotate the cake and repeat until the ridge no longer exists.
SOME FINISHING TOUCHES
With a perfectly coated cake, you’ve got a base on which to apply some finishing touches to give the cake a polished look. You can just add simple ingredients like flaked coconut or almonds, or chocolate shards, or sprinkles or what have you, and this can look truly lovely and simple… BUT if you really want to take your cake decorating and all those finishing touches and flourishes to the next level, then you really need to dedicate yourself to a good decorating guide or road map.