People have been decorating cakes for ages as a pastime. Many people wonder why we decorate cakes and what the best cake decorating pieces of equipment are.
It's incredible how rapidly cake design has progressed for being one of the more recent culinary arts. From a few modest ornamental designs in the 19th century to ten-foot cakes resembling animals, people, personalities, and even mechanical devices, cakes have come a long way in the last century.
Cakes are decorated to enhance their visual appeal, provide a decorative flourish, and strengthen or improve the flavor and texture. Many people decorate cakes to make them look more appealing to the eye. Cake decorating has been raised into an art form by several top decorators.
A cake that has to look presentable for a particular occasion might benefit significantly from cake decorating techniques and styles. Different icings, frostings, and tools are used to decorate cakes for various purposes and occasions.
We've worked in bakeries for several years and decorated many cakes, and we'll go over everything you need to know about why people decorate cakes, the best types of cake decorations, and the most useful cake decorating equipment. Our team has thoroughly investigated and examined the subject in order to offer you in-depth knowledge of cake decoration.
An Overview of Cake Decorating
Baking, cake-making, and cake-decorating have been around for a long time, but it's impossible to pinpoint a specific date for their origin.
A depiction of the palace bakery of Ramesses III, painted approximately 1175 BC, shows the creation of a variety of cakes and pieces of bread. Evidence suggests that candy makers sold sugar-sweetened candy in Egypt around 700 BC.
Cake Decorating Is an Art Form
Many skills and methods are involved in cake decorating. There are various cakes to choose from, from simple, one-layer compositions to elaborate, multi-layered cakes with elaborate edible ornamentation.
When it comes to cake decorating, you get the best of both worlds: delectable treats and beautiful designs. In cake decorating, people use many different frostings and techniques to conjure stunning cakes that taste and look as amazing as possible.
Taking Time to Enjoy the Process
Cake decorating is a time-consuming process that necessitates accuracy and meticulousness on the part of the decorator.
You're in command when you operate slowly and precisely, going from one step to another. When it comes to cake decorating, take your time and enjoy the process.
Bringing Joy to Others
Giving anything, especially something made with love, makes us feel exceptionally wonderful. Someone will appreciate your efforts if you take the time to bake and decorate a cake for them.
Your self-esteem and sense of belonging are bolstered when you bring joy to others. Long after the recipient devours your cake, they will remember the thoughtful gift of a beautifully adorned cake.
Today, people serve cakes with elaborate decorations to commemorate various events, including weddings, engagements, christenings, anniversaries, birthdays, and even the Christmas holiday.
Rich people used to bake Christmas cakes, known as "Twelfth Night Cakes," in the 18th century. The baked fruit mixture would include a bean and a pea.
The person who would find the bean was titled "King of the feast," and the one who'd find the pea would be known as the "Queen of the feast."
On the other hand, wedding cakes have been around the longest, and their evolution best demonstrates the development of cake decorating as an art form.
Various Styles of Cake Decoration
For icing your cakes, here are the most popular varieties that you can use:
Buttercream can be used as a cake filling or a frosting to dress up a cake. If you want a simple buttercream, cream together butter and confectioner's sugar until it reaches the required consistency.
American Buttercream is the simplest and most common form of buttercream frosting to create and use. Icing sugar, butter (or margarine), flavoring, and a small amount of liquid go into this confection.
It's possible to get a variety of recipes for the dish online. Most bakers enjoy it since it's simple to work with for spreading and decorating (e.g., piping borders, flowers, etc.).
It's also relatively simple to color with various kinds of food dyes. It's also highly cost-effective, and the components are readily accessible. When you need to decorate a cake outside, especially if the temperature is high, this specific icing may not be the best choice. Due to the use of fat in the recipe, it tends to melt.
Sugar, gelatin, water, vegetable oil or shortening, and glycerol are the main ingredients of fondant, which is also known as sugar paste or ready-roll icing.
Gelatin and glycerin can be replaced with marshmallows in some recipes. The optimum fondant texture can be stretched without ripping.
Carving and decorating tools may be used to transform it into various shapes. Rolled fondant, a cake icing that's soft and squishy like play dough, is excellent for constructing edible models and smoothing off the tops of cakes.
It's a typical decoration for children's birthdays and Christmas cakes. It is easy to work with, comes in a range of colors, and is nonstick, making it an excellent choice for a cake cover.
To prevent it from clinging to any surfaces, fondant must be rolled out using cornstarch. You may mold fondant into various forms, such as flowers or leaves, and then cut it into pieces and layered on top of a cake to create multiple decorative effects.
Apart from decorating cakes, fondant is often used to make unique decorations that do not include any cake.
It is necessary to have a robust cake foundation to hold a cake with many fondants applied to it, as this decorating is heavier than typical icing.
Unlike other types of icing, fondant does not solidify when exposed to air after it has been shaped.
Fresh cream, icing sugar, and a flavoring are used to make the fresh cream frosting. There are supermarkets where you can get whipped cream. You can frost cakes like black or white forest cakes with this classic cream icing.
The weather and freshness of the cream used might affect the stability of this sort of frosting. It's because cream, if it's not fresh, will curdle and become buttermilk, and if it's over-whipped, it will separate into butter and buttermilk.
Because of its resilience, cream frosting is also a little challenging to tint. In addition to fresh cream frosting, you may use non-dairy cream frosting as an alternative.
Depending on the intended use, the product can be used as-is or with icing sugar or cream. After chilling for a few hours, you may use this frosting by beating it with a mixer or a whisk until it has tripled in volume.
After that, you're free to put it to work decorating your cake. Because of its high stability and ease of coloring, this frosting is a favorite among bakers.
When dried, royal icing hardens into a thick shell traditionally used to cover and adorn decadent fruit desserts. Icing sugar, egg whites, and lime juice are combined in a bowl and whisked together until the mixture forms a glossy, firm, matte paste.
Because raw egg whites carry a risk of salmonella, some bakers choose to use meringue powder instead. To keep the icing from hardening, people often use glycerin. Dyeing it with food colorings is a simple process.
It's a white frosting produced by baking egg whites (fresh or powdered) and icing sugar. When using royal icing to decorate cakes, you get a crisp, well-defined icing perfect for bordering, writing, scrolling, and lacework.
If kept in a cold, dry environment, it will stay eternally, but it will weaken and wilt if the humidity is too high.
Unlike rolled fondant, marzipan is produced by using ground almonds. Marzipan prepared from home is significantly superior to store-bought, and the extra work is well worth it.
Christmas and Easter simnel cakes and "fancier" cakes like the strawberry fraisier employ it as a base under rolled fondant. Marzipan is a popular choice when it comes to cake decoration, although fondant is usually selected for the outer layer.
If your marzipan is frozen and hard, microwave it for a few seconds to warm it up. The oil in the marzipan can grow quite hot and burn you if you overdo this stage, so be careful not to go overboard.
The dried-out portions of your marzipan must be removed and discarded. Marzipan that has been dried out in the microwave or by hand will result in hard lumps when reconstituted.
Icing is produced by combining egg whites, a tiny amount of cold water, and powdered sugar. Foaming is achieved by injecting air into the mixture. Sugar stiffens the foam when added to it.
It's available in a variety of flavors and with or without nuts. Meringue comes in three primary flavors: Italian, French, and Swiss. The differences between the two recipes may be traced back to how the eggs are beaten.
You may use Swiss and Italian meringue buttercreams to frost and pipe embellishments on your cake creations, while you can use baked French meringue to create components.
The essential ingredients for all three meringue forms are the same, but the preparation methods differ, resulting in diverse outcomes.
By following a few guidelines, you may boost your chances of making a successful meringue. Don't stray from the recipe or add extra ingredients at will to get the best results.
This is a recipe that must be followed precisely. In addition, there are a variety of flavors of buttercream, including chocolate, mocha, raspberry, caramel, and even lemon flavoring.
Cake Decorating Tools
Cake designing requires various skills and techniques, not only technical know-how. Essential cake decorating materials should be on the list, too, if you want to make your cakes look deliciously tempting.
It may be a frightening and intimidating pastime and art form without them.
When it's time to decorate your cake, a pastry brush comes in handy for more than simply buttering the pans. Use a pastry brush to remove excess icing sugar from your fondant and get a clean appearance.
To avoid damaging or marking the fondant, use a pastry brush with care. You may also use these brushes to evenly scatter edible glitter over your cake's surface.
To avoid glitter clumping in some locations, you'll need a pastry brush.
Using an offset spatula while decorating a cake allows you to swiftly and effortlessly smooth the icing over the cake's sides without worrying about a mess.
Offset spatulas are rigid and typically constructed of metal instead of the silicone or rubber used in conventional spatulas. Make sure your cake is completely free of extra icing by using this method.
To raise piped flowers into place when decorating, you may also use them to pick up the icing and relocate it to a different area.
With a fondant smoother, you may more easily cover your cake with fondant and get it done right the first time. Without using a softer, it may be challenging to get the fondant to be smooth and uniform, and you may end up with wrinkles and splits.
Fondant smoothers make it easy to push fondant against a cake to ensure it adheres appropriately and thoroughly to icing. Instead of a mess and gaps between the cake and fondant smoother, it will tend to pull away from it.
There are various ways you may use your cake scraper, depending on the model you choose and how you use it. A cake scraper with a flat edge is ideal for smoothing out the sides and top of your cake after it has been baked.
It's easy to smooth out the icing using a scraper over the side of the cake to avoid any lumps or dips. Using one of the textured cake scrapers will immediately add visual appeal to your cake with no effort.
A cake scraper may save you time and effort when decorating the sides of your cake, rather than piping lines or swirls. Using a cake scraper, hold it parallel to the cake and then flip the cake on the turntable, enabling the scraper to scrape away part of the icing.
You may beautifully decorate cakes with fondant, and fondant cutters are an excellent choice if you want to ensure that your fondant is precisely formed.
A few key distinctions set them apart from the more commonly used cookie cutters. In contrast to cookie cutters, fondant cutters feature more intricate designs and are constructed with a higher degree of sturdiness to prevent flimsiness when cutting into fondant.
Like cookie cutters, regular fondant cutters are employed to create these confections. With a plunger fondant cutter, you may emboss your cutout with a pattern while also helping to release the fondant from the cutter.
The icing or fondant does not need to be tinted when using an airbrush to add color to your cake. You have a few options for airbrushes, so make sure you pick one that is both simple to use and dependable.
Stencils are commonly used in conjunction with airbrushes because they make it easier to put designs on your cake without bothering to sketch or piping them on yourself from scratch.
So that your airbrush doesn't get harmed, make sure you get food colors that work with your airbrush and clean it well after each usage.
Make sure your cake layers are uniform by using a leveling tool like this. Because of this, it is challenging to adorn cakes with a domed top, and it is nearly impossible to remove that dome and make an even and flat top with a knife alone.
Cut off the crowns of your cakes with a cake leveler so that they lie flat against one another, and you won't have to be concerned about them wobbling or sliding off as you stack them.
A cake leveler with a sharp cutting surface is essential so that you don't shred a piece of your cake when attempting to remove the dome.
About THE AUTHOR
Lori has been a Culinary Arts instructor for twenty years. She has taught in the public school setting, at the collegiate level and through adult continuing education as well as running several cooking and baking camps for children. She has participated in several cooking, cake & chocolate contests and has been well recognized. She has raised thousands of dollars for charities using the byline “Saving the World one Cupcake at a Time”. Additionally, she has had several articles regarding food published in various magazines.Read More About Lori Gilmore