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Cheat Sheet

Cake Decorating For Dummies

From Cake Decorating For Dummies by Joe LoCicero

Before you bake and decorate a cake, make sure you have the right cake decorating ingredients and supplies readily available. Take your time and follow easy decorating steps when you frost your cake. If you’re in a time crunch, use some quick decorating ideas for your cake. Before you present your cake, go through a pre-showtime checklist so your cake looks great.

Cake Decorating Supplies Checklist

Certain tools and equipment (some common, some specialized) are required for cake decorating. Be prepared ahead of time by organizing your cake decorating equipment into a kit. These things are what you’ll need for your cake decorating adventures:

  • Icing tips, such as #1–#10 for dots, lines, and scripting; #16, #18, #21, and #32 for forming stars; #48 for basketweaving; #67 for forming leaves; #104 for creating flowers; and a flower nail such as a #7

  • Disposable pastry bags

  • Couplers for the pastry bags

  • Icing offset spatulas, 4-inch and 9-inch

  • Ruler

  • Various sizes of baking pans, such as 9-inch rounds, 10-inch square, 9-x-13-inch rectangle, 12-x-18-inch rectangle, and Bundt

  • Cardboard rounds to support the cake

  • Cooling racks

  • Cookie, fondant, and gum paste cutters

  • Cake tester

  • Bench scraper

  • Pastry brush

  • Decorating comb

  • Turntable

  • Layer leveler

  • Candy and oven thermometers

  • Parchment paper

  • Toothpicks and bamboo skewers for sketching

  • Modeling tools

  • A color wheel

Cake Decorating Ingredients You Need

Having a variety of fresh high-quality products will help you to bake and decorate great cakes. Common ingredients you should have stocked in your kitchen are:

  • Cake flour

  • Unsalted butter for baking and mixing frostings

  • White granulated sugar

  • Confectioners’ sugar for frostings and icings

  • Eggs, at room temperature

  • Whole milk

  • Pasteurized egg whites for royal icing

  • Coloring gels, in a variety of colors, to shade frostings

  • Baking powder

  • Baking soda

  • Flavorings and extracts

  • Edible embellishments such as hard candies, chocolates, nuts, fruits, sprinkles, sanding sugars, and nonpareils, as well as marzipan for modeling

  • Nonedible embellishments such as candles and fresh flowers

How to Frost Your Cake

When frosting your cake, make sure you have the right tools, time, and attention to detail. Follow these easy steps for frosting your cake. (The directions are for a double-layer, 9 inch cake but can be easily adapted to other sizes.)

  1. Gather your tools, including wax paper, offset spatulas, and a silicone brush.

  2. Have your bottom cake layer on a cardboard round (or the board it will sit on), and place strips of wax paper underneath it around its borders.

  3. Use the silicone brush to gently sweep off excess crumbs, and then use a wide-angled spatula to spread an even layer of frosting on top of the bottom layer. Put the second layer on top and again sweep off excess crumbs.

  4. Spread another layer of frosting on top of the cake and all around the sides. You’ve now formed your crumb coat. Refrigerate the cake for the frosting to crust over.

  5. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and use an offset spatula to spread frosting cleanly and evenly, beginning first on top and then frosting the sides. Use the spatula to achieve a flat, smooth look, adding and removing frosting for a finished, polished presentation.

Quick Cake Decorating Ideas

If you’re running short on time, you can still create a cake that will draw oohs and ahs of admiration. Try these last-minute cake decorating toppings and methods:

  • Top your cake with chocolate shavings or curls.

  • Group nonpoisonous fresh flowers, such as roses or daisies wrapped with a grosgrain or organza ribbon, atop your confection.

  • Use a stencil and sift confectioners’ sugar or cocoa over your creation.

  • Decorate cake plates with sauces — such as hot fudge or raspberry purée — that complement a cake slice.

  • Place evenly spaced milk chocolate, butterscotch, cinnamon, white chocolate, or mint chips all over your cake for a Swiss dot effect.

  • Use hard candies, sours, or jelly beans to create festive swirls, spell out a name, create a flower, or form a geometric pattern.

  • Create a tableau with small fruits, or if it complements the cake’s flavor, thinly slice and place citrus fruits in a decorative pattern.

A Pre-Showtime Check of Your Cake

Before you unveil your masterpiece, go through this checklist to make sure your cake looks its best and is securely stored for safe travel, if needed:

  1. Examine the cake’s silhouette: Is it even? Does frosting completely cover the cake? Are the borders clean?

  2. Are there too many decorations? If so, can a piece easily be edited out?

  3. Did you double-check the spelling and appearance of any writing?

  4. Is the cake board clean?

  5. Is the cake board sturdy enough to transport the cake safely?

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