Baked goods are delicious. Most people can appreciate a well made and beautiful looking sweet treat, but some baked goods border on works of art. If you think elaborate decoration skills are too involved for home bakers, think again. Below we have compiled a comprehensive guide for cake decorating techniques for beginners. Enjoy!
Leveling a Torte Cake
When you bake a cake, there will inevitably be a rounded top where the cake rose during baking. This rounded top must go if you plan on stacking or even if you don’t plan on stacking. A flat even surface looks better and is easier to work on. There are a couple of schools of thought on this. Some bakers cool their cake upside down on a flat surface to resolve the issue, and some use a serrated knife to cut the round top off. You should try both ways and decide what works best for you. If you decide to cut the rounded top off, place your open full hand on top of the cake while cutting, applying even pressure so that the cake does not move and you get an even cut. Cut off as little as possible to not waste food.
Covering a Cake With an Even Coat of Frosting
A cake stand that turns is a worthwhile investment for any homemaker that wants to try their hand at decoration. It will make every thing easier. If you do not have a turnable cake stand and don’t plan on buying one, you can use a large mixing bowl turned upside down with a flat plate on top. Frosting is much easier to apply when the cake is sitting at eye level. Place parchment paper on cake stand to keep it clean. Squeeze out a small amount of frosting onto the paper to help your cake not slip.
Use a frosting spatula to frost ¼ of the cake at a time to avoid a mess. Start in the middle and work your way out and down. Spread the frosting beyond the edge of your cake to guarantee full coverage. The over lap from the top will help evenly frost the sides. Make sure to apply frosting liberally since it is easier to remove extra frosting then add thickness later. Smooth out frosting to desired smoothness.
And if you want to get fancy, you can use an airbrush kit for cakes to cover layers of fondant with ease!
Make Your Own Buttercream Icing
You can make butter cream frosting from scratch rather than buying it premade. This allows the home baker more artistic options as far as color and consistency. You’ll need a mixing bowl and a mixer, vanilla, powdered sugar, milk, and butter. For vegan bakers, feel free to replace the butter and milk with virgin coconut oil and milk substitute. You’ll also need an assortment of food coloring. You will only need the primary colors since all colors can be mixed from them. For instance, blue and yellow make green, and red and blue make purple. If you don’t want to mix them your self, by all means buy the food coloring that is premixed into an assortment of hues.
On low speed, or by hand, mix your vanilla, powdered sugar and butter or oil. It is recommended to add milk toward the end of mixing for a smooth and spreadable consistency. If it is too thick, beat in more milk, but only a few drops at a time. If it is too thin, add sifted powdered sugar one teaspoon at a time. Perfect thickness is a personal preference for decorators and you will know when you reach your desired thickness by how easy it is to decorate with.
Piping Frosting Flowers and Other Decorations
Piping bags and tips for butter frosting are a great way to create wonderfully decorative flowers and patterns. Decorators have used piping to create wonderful cake decor. You will need a pair of cake scissors (regular scissors work too), rice paper, a skewer or a flower stand, piping bags and an assortment of piping tips. When making icing flowers, make sure to acquire the rose and leaf tips, which will very much come in handy.
Using a skewer involves more skill than a miniature flower stand, so start with the latter. In the beginning, decorating will be some trial and error and some experimentation. To make a rose, place a dab of frosting on the miniature stand. It will have a small dowel on a flat plate. Place rice paper on the dab of frosting to secure it from movement. Choose your colors and flower tip. Load frosting into piping bags. Pack the frosting from the small end to the large end, avoiding air holes and inconsistencies in the frosting to help it flow out steadily. Load a leaf tip with your choice in green. Once your hand held flower stand and piping bags are prepared, start with the center of the flower first. You can add the leaves last.
Place a small pancake of frosting for the center of the flower. Turn the miniature hand held table every so slightly with each pedal you add, so that you do not have to move your frosting hand very much, to help avoid inconsistencies in your pedals. As you turn and add more pedals, make sure to place them in staggered so that it looks like a flower instead of stacked. After you are satisfied with the pedal area, add the leaves in places that look good, just one or two. Don’t go over board. Your first flower may not turn out wonderful, but do not give up. It may help to look at a picture of the flower you are trying to create. Once you are happy with the way your flower and leaves look, place it in the refrigerator to set for 15 minutes before removing from rice paper.
After you are confident in creating beauty from icing, you will want to explore fondant which is slightly more complicated. Happy decorating!