Decorating Cakes

A finished cake is often enhanced by covering it with icing, or frosting, and toppings such as sprinkles. Frosting is usually made from powdered (icing) sugar, sometimes a fat of some sort, milk or cream, and often flavorings such as vanilla extract or cocoa powder.

Cake decorating is one of those most-ignored culinary arts. Although the sight of a beautifully decorated cake delights almost everyone, most people are not aware of the long and intricate history of the art.

Compared to other forms of food preparation, it is actually one of the newer culinary arts. Decorating cakes can be traced back to the mid-17th century. This is around the same time, probably not coincidentally, that cake pans made their first appearance in domestic kitchens across Northeastern Europe. Beginning in the mid-17th century, it gained widespread popularity as a way to create elaborate desserts that were used as displays during the feasts and banquets of the wealthiest aristocracy. However, these were mainly used as display pieces.


The Wilton Method Arrives in the Early 20th Century

Around 1929, a business known as Wilton Enterprises began to advertise its own cake decorating classes. Their classes were advertised to enterprising chefs, caterers and other gourmands with an interest in baking and decorating cakes. The decorating classes took off and became a great success among bakers and chefs. In 1947, the Wilton's began to develop and promote their own line of baking and decorating products. Wilton enterprises made a great splash, and by the 1960s, the so-called Wilton Method became a stand-by method of cake decoration. In 1983, the Wilton Company merged with the Copco kitchenware company. Then, in 1991, the company merged again with Rowoco, who changed the name of the company to Wilton Industries. 

The Lambeth Method Becomes Another Popular Decorating Method

A few years after the Wilton school came into existence, Joseph Lambeth published a book that would become a classic of cake decorating. The book was known as The Lambeth Method of Cake Decoration and Practical Pastries. The book became widely popular with budding cake decorators, bakers and other gourmands. The book contained real step-by-step instructions and clear, oversized drawings and photographs that showed readers how the Lambeth Method was constructed. 

The International Cake Exploration Society Come Onto the Scene

In 1976, a new organization known as the International Cake Exploration Society in Michigan cameinto the decorating scene. The organization is still active, and meets each year during their annual conventions.


PURPOSE OF CAKE DECORATING

The purpose behind cake decorating is to turn an ordinary cake into a spectacular piece of food art. Decorating a cake can be as complex or as simple as you wish. Even a simple decoration can be highly effective, so you don't need to be afraid that you don't possess the skills needed to be good at decorating – much of it is about applying your creativity along with a little know-how on effective decorating.

Cake is often served as a celebratory dish on ceremonial occasions, for example weddings, anniversaries, and birthdays. There are countless cake recipes; some are bread-like, some rich and elaborate, and many are centuries old

We decorate cake based on the occasion. Normally we design cake according to it’s purpose. Grandeur as it, wedding cakes comes at its finest and meticulously designed by well known shops, now with WASAHQ, you will learn how to make personalized cakes of our own occasion, gift or even made to order request.


BASICS ON HOW TO DECORATE CAKES

Choose the right type of cake to decorate

Decorating a cake requires additional effort; hence, it makes sense for the reason to decorate it to be a good one. It wouldn't be worth trying to decorate cakes that are to be eaten warm from the oven, such as a cake topped in syrup or sauce. The point of such cakes is that they're already as good as they need to be.



Levelling a Cake

This is a mandatory step when working with genoise and an optional step when working with butter cakes.  For genoise, you must remove the top and bottom crusts from the cakes. This allows the soaking syrup to penetrate into the crumb. It also gives a more professional look to the cake when it is cut.

If you do not have a cake leveler, you can use a long serrated kitchen knife.  A bread knife is generally a good choice.  If you have great knife skills, you can freehand it—I’ve seen people do this.  If you’re not so great with straight lines, you can use the toothpick method.  Simply measure up the sides of the cake and insert toothpicks all around at the levels you want to cut.  Use the toothpicks as your cutting guide.

Torting a Cake

If you do not have a cake leveler, you can use a long serrated kitchen knife.  A bread knife is generally a good choice.  If you have great knife skills, you can freehand it—I’ve seen people do this.  If you’re not so great with straight lines, you can use the toothpick method.  Simply measure up the sides of the cake and insert toothpicks all around at the levels you want to cut.  Use the toothpicks as your cutting guide.

Filling

Filling a cake is the part where you put something tasty between the layers, both to add moisture and flavor as well as to stick the layers together.  You can use frosting to fill your cake.  And that’s tasty, especially if you Love Frosting, but don’t discount some other filling ideas:  ganache (flavored or otherwise), jam, custard, fruit curd, stabilized whipped cream, sliced fruit in gelatin, gravy.

Crumb Coating

The crumb coat is a rough layer of frosting that is used to seal in the crumbs so that your frosting can be smoothed easily. To add the crumb coat, use an offset spatula and spread a thick layer of your room temperature frosting to the top and sides of your cake.

To get a nice, professional, crumb-free coat of icing is a two-step process. The first step is to ice the whole cake with a very thin layer of frosting or even some of your filling.  Consider it thin layer of tasty glue that catches and holds the crumbs to keep them from Dispersing in your finished frosting. 

Then to complete the finish coat are the same as for the crumb coat. The only difference is that you’ll spread on the frosting a bit thicker and take more care in making sure the frosting is smooth – then refrigerate.

Cake Frosting

Icing, often called frosting, it is a sweet, often creamy glaze made of sugar with a liquid, such as water or milk, that is often enriched with ingredients like butter, egg whites, cream cheese, or flavorings. It is used to cover or decorate baked goods, such as cakes or cookies.

Decide on the type of frosting or icing you'd like to work with if icing a cake

It's important to feel comfortable with the frosting or icing techniques required for decorating cakes; some are more complicated than others and if you're just starting out, it's recommended that you don't take on difficult decoration projects until your confidence increases. Typical frosting or icing styles include:

  • Buttercream or Vienna cream – this is an easy-to-use frosting that fills gaps and covers up all sorts of unsightly cake bumps and dips! It produces a whipped cream style of appearance and can be smoothed down or allowed to settle in peaks. Buttercream frosting is easy to color and flavor, with typical flavors including chocolate, vanilla, lemon, coffee, and strawberry.
  • Fluffy frosting – this uses a frosting created by beating in an electric mixer. This must be applied on the day it is to be served; it has a marshmallow type consistency. In storage, the frosting becomes a little crisp and loses its gloss.
  • Sugar or gum paste – sugar paste is rolled fondant. It's usually easiest to purchase it ready-made from cake decorating suppliers.
  • Royal icing – this is similar to sugar paste and is often available ready-made.
  • Fondant– this icing comes from the cake decorating, very useful for intricate decorating work that you need to keep in shape. It's a sugar paste dough or gum and can also be made from scratch. It has a high ability to resist breaking down in the presence of moisture.
  • Petal paste – this icing is ideal for making flowers, as it produces extremely fine detail. It's a good idea to slightly dampen your fingers when working with this paste.
  • Sugar glue – this isn't icing but a "glue" that allows you to stick together pieces modeled from icing.
  • Pre-made icing or transfer sheets with printed designs – these are popular for children's cakes and feature such designs as movie, cartoon, and TV show characters. Follow the instructions provided on how to apply these to the tempered & hardened chocolate surface.
  • Dusted icing sugar – while very simple, this can be very effective on the right type of cake, especially where the cake's constitution is already sufficiently rich without adding icing or frosting (such as flourless cakes and dessert cakes.

Think beyond icing or frosting.

There are many other means for decorating a cake besides icing or frosting. You can use such items in combination with icing, or add them direct to the cake. These include:

  • fresh fruit pieces, dried fruit, fruit arranged into shapes such as flowers or animals, glazed fruit (with jam, etc.), toffee-dipped, crystallized rind, etc. 
  • Flowers – edible flowers can make a cake appear very elegant
  • Cream – thickened cream can be shaped into quenelles, spread over a cake, used for filling or piped on
  • Candies – all sorts of candies can make excellent cake designs
  • Drizzled chocolate – either randomly drizzled, or in a pre-determined pattern
  • Dusted cocoa or other chocolate – chocolate curls, sprinkles, pieces, shapes, etc.
  • Nuts – especially halved, slivered, or shaved nuts
  • Streusel topping – baked on, no need to decorate other than a quenelle of cream next to each serve
  • Toffee strands, shards, or shapes – you'll need to practice making these until you get the knack of it but toffee can work well as a decorative element on a cake
  • Coconut (shredded or desiccated) – coconut can be colored using food coloring (use wet hands or wet gloved hands to rub the coloring through); it can also be toasted
  • White or dark Chocolate Ganache coating.
  • Jams or preserves.

Using a Fondant to cover cake


  1. Learn some other essential techniques required for decorating cakes.
  2. Use color creatively.
  3. Learn how to turn an ordinary piece of food into something decorative
  4. Use ready-made decorations.
  5. Use beautiful serving plates.


SPECIAL DECORATING TOOLS & EQUIPMENT

Special tools are needed for more complex cake decorating, such as piping bags or syringes, and various piping tips. To use a piping bag or syringe, a piping tip is attached to the bag or syringe using a coupler. The bag or syringe is partially filled with icing which is sometimes colored. Using different piping tips and various techniques, a cake decorator can make many different designs.

Basic decorating tips include open star, closed star, basketweave, round, drop flower, leaf, multi, petal, and specialty tips.


Bags and Tips

Many of the icing decorations are made with icing squeezed out through a tip with a specific type of opening. Icing bags are usually made of plastic and can be filled with icing of any type and color. Cake decorators should have a few bags so they can simultaneously use a few different colors. In addition to the bags, decorators should have a variety of tips that go on them. Some tips make dots and lines, others make leaves and flowers, and still others create special shapes. Lastly, flower nails allow decorators to create individual flowers on a base and dry them before adding them to the cake


Pastry Bag & Tips

These are perfect for adding a tiny amount of water or sugar glue to adhere fondant decorations.

To make sugar glue, simply place a small piece of fondant into a bowl and add a few drops of water, let it sit for about 10 minutes, stir and you have sugar glue.


Fondant Tools

Fondant gives cakes a smooth appearance and provides versatility with creating clean-edged shapes. Decorators need a rolling pin to roll out sheets of homemade fondant. Some speciality decorating stores also sell guides to put on the ends of the pin and help roll out fondant to a specific thickness. After rolling the fondant, decorators need cookie cutters or other shaped cutters to punch letters, symbols and shapes out of the fondant.


Fondant smoothers

These little tools are incredibly useful when covering a cake in fondant. They help smooth the fondant onto the cake and help to release air bubbles from under the fondant. If you can only buy a few new tools, these are the ones to buy, and having two is very useful.


Large and small fondant rollers

Usually come in two sizes. Small rollers are used for rolling out just enough fondant for decorations, and large rollers are for rolling out enough fondant to cover an entire cake.

You may ask why you need to buy a fondant roller if you have a really good rolling pin at home. Well, you don’t have to, but if your rolling pin has handles, it may not be strong enough to roll the fondant thin enough. Rolling pins also are not as long as fondant rollers and can leave lines in your fondant.


Other Tools

Cake decorators need a variety of sizes of metal spatulas for applying, spreading and smoothing frosting. An icing comb also helps smooth icing or create texture on the icing. Pastry brushes are also useful for decorating cakes. Decorators who make tall cakes might need cake dowels to hold the layers firmly on top of one another. Lastly, toothpicks allow decorators to create fine details on the surface of the icing.


Off-set spatula and Bench scraper

To achieve a beautiful, clean crumb coat and final coat, these two tools will make your work much easier. Spread your buttercream ic ing using the off-set spatula. Once you have a thick coat of icing, smooth it out using a bench scraper.


Pastry brushes

These are perfect for adding a tiny amount of water or sugar glue to adhere fondant decorations.

To make sugar glue, simply place a small piece of fondant into a bowl and add a few drops of water, let it sit for about 10 minutes, stir and you have sugar glue.

A baking tool that looks similar to a small paintbrush, about 1 to 1 1/2-inches thick. Common liquids used with a pastry brush are milk, water and egg whites. Use a pastry brush to brush marinades over meats too.


Large Equipment

Serious cake decorators might want to invest in a few large pieces to help perfect their cakes. One common piece of equipment is a cake turntable, which rotates for easy access to all sides of the cake without moving around the table or having to pick up the cake. Although decorators can bake cakes in simple pans, speciality sized cake pans allow for more flexibility, as well as it’s liners. Smooth plastic cake dummies allow decorators to practice on plastic shaped like the cake.


LAZY SUSAN

A tray made of wood or light weight plastic, designed with rotating disc underneath for easy swivel of the top most flat surfaced tray used for cake decorating. To decorate a cake without a turntable is frustrating and almost impossible. You will use a turntable to torte, fill, crumb coat and decorate your cake.


CAKE BOARDS

Ideal support you can use to transfer you baked goods, and likewise useful for easy handling.