The most important part of a cake for many people is the decorations on it. There are many icing techniques you can use to make your cake look beautiful and stand out. From traditional flowers to intricate icing designs there is no limit to what you can create after you learn the techniques of decorative icing.
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Simple cakes are often decorated with a ripple pattern around the side creating a nice texture while keeping the design simple. To create this affect all you need is a cake comb. Apply a 1/4 inch layer of icing to the outside of the cake and gently drag the cake comb around the sides of the cake in a steady motion. It may be easiest to use a rotating cake stand to turn the cake while you hold the comb steady. Be careful not to use a heavy hand. You want to create a gentle ripple rather than deep grooves.
Buttercream Rose Piping
Buttercream roses are a traditional staple of cake decorations. A simple sheet cake or a single layer round cake can be transformed into a rich looking garden just by adding clusters of roses. Roses can be made with a vertically held dowel rod with a rose tip for piping. Pipe rose petals around the dowel rode starting at the very top with a single loop of a petal and then add more open petals around it until you've created an open rose. Carefully slide the rose off of the dowel with a flexible knife and onto the cake. You can use the rose tip to pipe petal-like leaves around the base once you have added the rose to the cake.
Cake makers use fondant to create the smooth icing effect that is popular for wedding cakes. The fondant is rolled out and then carefully applied to the cake and smoothed together at the seams with warm water. Cover the cake with a thin layer of buttercream and then roll out a 1/8-inch thick circle of fondant big enough to cover the cake with a little extra to spare. Drape the fondant over the cake and gently smooth it down. You may need to apply a little bit of downward pressure to the sides so that the fondant will smooth out against the cake. Use hot water to repair tears and smooth folds over before cutting the excess off with a knife.
One way to amp up the elegance of a cake is to create a lace design around the edges. You can achieve this effect with icing filigree. Use a very small tip and royal icing to draw your design onto waxed paper. For equally sized designs you can tape the waxed paper to graph paper for reference. Allow the icing to dry completely for at least one hour. Ice the cake with a 1/4-inch layer of buttercream icing. Remove the icing designs gently with a thin spatula as they are very fragile and gently place them onto the cake. Press lightly to ensure they adhere.
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