A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO DECORATING A CAKE - A beautifully decorated cake can add delight to any special occasion. It's a personal touch that will be appreciated by everyone. We'll explain what you'll need to wow the folks who will enjoy your baking [NOOK Book]
DECORATE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT TOO A beautifully decorated cake can add delight to any special occasion. It's a personal touch that will be appreciated by everyone present (even those watching their waistlines). And while anyone can slap some frosting or sprinkle some powdered sugar on a cake, ...
DECORATE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT TOO
A beautifully decorated cake can add delight to any special occasion. It's a personal touch that will be appreciated by everyone present (even those watching their waistlines). And while anyone can slap some frosting or sprinkle some powdered sugar on a cake, true decoration
takes patience and skill. It also calls for a little imagination.
We'll explain what you'll need to wow the folks who will get to enjoy your baking prowess. Just remember: this is one case where looks are definitely everything--at least until someone takes the first bite.
Before you begin…
The cake you'll be decorating must be completely cooled before any icing even gets near it. When it's finished baking, let it cool in the pan for 15 to 20 minutes before placing it on a cooling rack. Following that, it will take several hours to cool. You might even consider baking the cake the day before you decorate it, and then refrigerating it overnight. You can also prepare and refrigerate the icing beforehand if you're so inclined.
Another key to successful decorating is knowing the overall look you want before you start. Take a look at some pictures of decorated cakes (bridal or food-related magazines are a good source), or visit a local bakery for some ideas. Once you know what you like, it'll be easier to create something dazzling.
STEP 1: PREPARE THE ICING
Any type of icing will work, including ready-made icing you can buy at the store. We'll discuss standard icing rather than glazes or royal icing (which involve a different set of rules--and aren't for the beginner). Basically you just want it to be smooth and free of air pockets. It should look and feel light and fluffy, with a fairly thin consistency, so it's easy to spread.
Mix the icing with a rubber spatula or an electric mixer (use a paddle attachment and set the mixer on the lowest speed). You can add water or milk to thin the icing as needed. It should hold about a 1/4-inch peak when properly thinned. Once you're finished mixing, place a small amount in a separate bowl. This will be used for the base layer (explained in Step 5).
STEP 2: LEVEL THE CAKE
With a long, thin knife, flatten the cake's top by cutting away just enough to remove any roundness. This will create a level surface on which you can more easily place any decorations (such as borders, flowers, and the like). Measure the sides with a ruler so you're sure you'll be cutting off an even amount, then mark an even height on each side to use as a guide.
Cut the remaining section in half horizontally (measuring and marking the sides again) and place the top layer aside. You should now have two, equally sized layers with flat (not angled or rounded) tops. Place the bottom half of the cake on a cardboard round or a platter.
STEP 3: ASSEMBLE A DECORATING BAG
Decorating bags come in various models. If you want to get into cake decorating for the long haul, purchase several featherweight bags, which are made of washable polyester that's specially coated to prevent leaks. If you're a one-time-only decorator, use a disposable (plastic) or parchment paper bag. You can find these ready-made at most grocery stores.
Next, you'll insert the coupler (available at larger grocery stores, many department stores, and specialty cookware shops).While you can use a bag without one, a coupler will help you keep your decorating details steady. You can also use it to change decorating tips while using the same bag (otherwise you'll need a different bag for each tip).
To use a coupler:
Twist its ring off and push the cone-shaped base (narrow end first) into the open end of the bag and down toward the pointed end as far as it will go (be gentle if you're using paper).
If you're using a featherweight bag, use a pen to mark a line where you can see the circular outline of the bottom threads where the ring screws onto the base.
Push the base back into the bag and cut the end at the line. Then push the base back down toward the point until its end and the bottom threads are showing.
If you're using a disposable plastic or a paper bag, push the coupler base into the bag, then trim the bag about one-quarter inch below the bottom edge of the coupler.
Choose a decorating tip that has a large, round opening (you'll be using it first), and attach it to the coupler base. Then put the ring over the tip and screw it into place.
STEP 4: PUT IN THE FILLING
Fill the cone with icing about halfway--you'll
want to start with a small amount so you can
get the hang of the technique. Don't overfill the
bag, or the icing will end up on you instead of
the cake. Twist the bag closed just above the
icing. This will push the icing down toward the
TO BE CONTINUED... Buy now and enjoy the contents in full!