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Simple Cake Decorating Ideas
Decorating a cake to a spectacular level is something that even an amateur can do with a little knowhow. The tips below are there to help cake making newbies stand out and create cakes that not only taste great but look amazing too.
Pipe icing swirls on cakes, retro rosettes, and cupcakes using buttercream to give them a ‘frosting’. Buttercream is made by sieving some icing sugar into slightly softened butter then whisk or beat to combine (you can refer to our Vanilla cake recipe for quantities). You should get a fairly firm mixture that holds its shape well but isn’t rock hard or you risk being unable to achieve a smooth finish. Leave a bit longer at room temperature or chill as necessary.
Drop a nozzle into the piping bag. A large star works particularly well for rosettes and cupcakes while a fine round works well for writing.
Fill with icing at most two thirds full then use your dominant hand to hold the end and then rest the bag’s tip in the other hand. To get rid of air bubbles, you should squeeze the icing at the top. Do a little test squirt before you start working on your cake or cupcake.
Hold the piping bag vertically then pipe an icing ring around the cupcake’s edge if you are working on a cupcake. Pipe a small spiral that overlaps the ring then stop applying pressure once the bag is at the swirl’s center, then finish by pushing the bag down and drawing up sharply.
Hold the bag in a similar way if you are working on rosettes then pipe a little dollop in one place then finish by pushing the bag down and drawing up sharply.
If you find that the peak is either too wispy or high, you can press it down a little using a finger dabbed in water.
If you are doing writing icing, hold your piping bag at a 45 degree angle, a bit further from the surface, squeeze out the icing at constant pressure, then allow the line of icing to fall naturally into place as you continue guiding it. Avoid pulling the piping bag prior to the icing meeting the surface since you will get an uneven thickness.
Hold your piping bag vertically to make dots and ensure that the nozzle is close to the surface. Squeeze a bit of icing out to make your desired size of dot, then finish by stopping the squeezing, pushing down, and then drawing up sharply.
Spoon a large dollop of softened buttercream onto the cake’s center. Paddle the icing to the cake’s edge using either a palette knife or spatula.
Use the palette knife or spatula for the sides to smear small quantities of icing in sections, turn your cake and then repeat. This is a simple but great cake decorating tip that allows you to create something that looks great and stands out.
If you want to achieve a smooth finish, you can use either a rule or a long palette knife. Hold the ruler at the furthest edge of the cake from you then drag it towards you and repeat if necessary.
For the edge, use a plastic side scraper or palette knife in one hand at 90 degrees to your cake and then spin the cake using the other hand. The turntable is ideal for this since you can do it in a single movement. If not, you may have to do it in sections then use a palette knife to smooth any joints.
For a feathered ‘frosty’ effect, all you have to do is press the flat side of your spatula or palette knife onto the cake then lift and repeat over the whole cake.
Flowers, Fresh and Crystallized
Use your favorite edible leaves or flowers such as violets, violas, rose petals, primroses, pansies, mint leaves, lavender, etc. You can use them for decorating either as they are or by first crystallizing them. Whisk and egg white lightly to crystallize. Using a paintbrush, apply the egg white gently to the petal, leaf, or flower. Sprinkle some caster sugar then shake the excess off. Place on a tray that you have lined using baking parchment. Leave it overnight in a warm and dry place. Store in a sealed container that has layers of parchment.
Simple Sugar Modelling
Marzipan and sugarpaste figures are particularly popular with children and make great additions to themed cakes. You can use photo-sharing websites and books to get ideas, starting simple then working your way up. Ensure that you check out our Rocky robin cake. Many people sent us pictures of theirs last year and they were amazing.
Chocolates and Sweets
You can achieve different effects such as girlie, glamorous, funky, or childlike, you can use all kinds of chocolates and sweets. We have used sugared almonds, mini marshmallows, chocolate buttons, licorice, and lollipops to name just a few.
Nuts and Fruits
Never underestimate the power of a golden brown walnut or plump fresh raspberry perched atop what you bake.
You will find plenty of ready-made decorations specialist cake decorating shops or in supermarkets. Sprinkles are amazing.
These tips will help you create a great cake that tastes good too.