With the rise in popularity of baking reality shows, cake decorating has moved from its humble frosting rose beginnings to a genuine art form. Cakes have become the centrepieces of a party, and cake decorators create sculptural confections to suit the party's theme and the guest of honor's taste. You don't need a chef's certification to make your own edible animal cake decorations; just some ingenuity and practice.
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Frosting is the most common way to decorate a cake. You can buy pre-mixed icing in a variety of colours from your local supermarket, or make your own by mixing food colouring and white icing. Fill a decorating bag with the icing and add the tip of your choice, then "paint" animals directly onto the cake. You could draw a jungle scene with tigers and elephants, an octopus for an ocean-themed party, or turn the entire cake into a puppy face for a dog lover. Experiment with different tips and icing piping styles to create textures like fur.
Fondant is an icing with a claylike consistency. Popular with bakers on cooking reality shows, it can be sculpted into a myriad of shapes. The only limit with fondant is your sculpting ability, so practice with playdough before you commit to your design. Fondant allows the baker to create 3D shapes, making the design stand out. Sculpt an entire zoo of animals to stand on top of your cake, and add some flowers and plants to complete the nature scene.
Edible images are pictures that can be placed directly on top of the cake. They are available in a wide variety of designs, including popular children's characters and elegant abstract designs. Some companies will even custom create an edible image from the photo of your choice, enabling you to put your pet or favourite animal photo on your cake.
Candy is available in a wide variety of shapes and colours, making it a great cake decorating material. You can use liquorice to add whiskers to a cat cake, top a spring cake with marshmallow peeps, or build a whole animal scene out of candy. Browse your local sweetshop for ideas, and check the bulk foods section of speciality grocery stores for more unusual finds.
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