So, you've baked your cake and are now posed with the challenge of decorating it. This can be pretty daunting if you have little experience. If you are quite creative you can really put yourself to the test here, but if you prefer, simple is also very effective.
Make sure you have a plan for your ideas and allow yourself plenty of time. You could always have a dry run, practise really does make perfect when it comes to cake decorating and with our easy to follow tips, you’ll be professional in no time.
Just a few essential tools will help you to create your masterpiece with ease. Depending on how you choose to decorate your cake you may need a rolling pin, turntable, cake smoother, piping bag set with nozzles and food colourings.
Popping your cakes into the freezer even for just an hour makes frosting your cake so much easier. This firms the surface and prevents crumbs from breaking away so easily. Once your cake layers are completely cool, level them and then double wrap them individually in cling wrap.
This means to apply a very thin layer of frosting or buttercream to your cake and it helps to prevent any loose crumbs from appearing on the outside of your cake. Once your cake is filled and assembled, apply the thin layer of frosting all over the outside using an offset spatula. Then, you can use a bench scraper or a long straight edged spatula to smooth the edges. Place your cake in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes to set before you do your final layer and repeat.
Creating scallops is really simple and requires no fancy equipment. Just simply fill a piping bag or the corner of a zip closure food bag with buttercream and pipe medium sized blobs in a straight line from the bottom to the top of the cake. Then, using the back of a teaspoon, press each blob down a little and drag horizontally as you press to create scallops. Repeat with a new column of dollops that slightly overlaps the previous column and continue until you have gone all the way around.
Piping buttercream can be really fun and it’s usually quite easy to create different patterns and effects. Experiment on to some baking paper before you pipe directly onto your cake to make sure you get the hang of it. Apply even pressure to the piping bag and try not to alter the angle for each piping you do. You can try roses using a star nozzle, start in the middle and swirl outwards to reach the desired size, pipe stars again using a star nozzle and carefully just pipe dollops all over and for ruffles, use a petal nozzle and start at the bottom and work your way up to the top of your cake.
Try using coloured fondant icing to create words, shapes or themes. Knead the fondant until it softens and then use cutters or have a go at freehand using the point of a small sharp knife to get the shape you require. You can then tick them on the cake by dampening the back with a little water before you put the fondant into place.
The ombre look is very easy to achieve is aesthetically pleasing and fairly simple to do. Split your buttercream between four different bowls. Leave one of them as it’s natural color and then add a little food colouring to each of the others, adding a little more to each so that bowl three is darker than two and bowl four is darker than three. If you want the lightest shade at the top, use a large round tip, fill your piping bag and start at the top. Pipe all the way around and squeeze out the remaining icing. Fill the bag with the next lightest shade and repeat under the last row of piping. Repeat until the cake is covered and then use a bench scraper to remove excess buttercream and smooth all over. It may be useful to have a cake turntable for this so you can turn the cake as you pipe or smooth.
This is something that definitely gets easier with lots of practise. Use a small round piping nozzle and have a practise by piping onto some baking paper, remember to apply steady even pressure. This simple yet effective technique can really finish off a cake. Don’t waste any buttercream or icing you have used to practise, simply scrape it back off the paper and add it back to the piping bag.
The possibilities for cake decorating are endless and there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Sometimes less is more and it can be really easy to achieve eye catching results. You could just pipe borders, decorate with sprinkles, cake toppers or finish with a ribbon. Whatever you decide, follow our tips and we are sure you will be creating a masterpiece in no time.
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