Sunday, July 13, 2008

Cake Decorating: The Beginning

What does the average semi-employed college student on summer vacation do with free time? Probably watch a lot of television. What do I do with my time when my circumstances fit the above description? (Hint: You're reading a food blog).


Some of my decorating tips, lined up all pretty.

Lately I've done quite a bit of cooking experimentation, trying new dishes and reading cookbooks. My latest project, however, is a bit more involved. You see, I want to learn how to decorate cakes.

Due to a variety of circumstances (including not being able to get into a cake decorating class and the fact that my library has a Wilton cake decorating book) I am teaching myself this skill. Not too hard, right? I mean, I've baked cakes before, although I have to admit that in the past it was all about doctoring up boxed cake mixes and a multitude of sprinkles. But it's not like my first project is anything of major importance. The first real cake I'm going to decorate is my birthday cake, next weekend. If it looks odd, I really don't care all that much. And I'm pretty sure my friends will still dig in.

The full practice sheet definitely showed signs of my cake decorating inexperience, but I saved the extra icing for another practice round.

The major element of cake decorating, it seems, is making the intricate icing designs. Start with a well-iced cake (I'm confident I can accomplish this, although it might take more patience than I normally put into frosting a cake). Then, with your general design in mind, use the decorating tips and tinted icing to create your masterpiece. Viola!


Although I've had years of experience in decorating cookies of all sorts with many of these same decorating tips, I knew I needed practice. So I picked up a can of generic pre-made icing at the store and sat down at the kitchen table today to try my hand. I think I got better as I tried each tip more, and I'm sure better quality icing will improve the decorations for the real cake.

Flowers made with tip 107. I accidentally bought the left-handed tip. Does it make a difference to someone who doesn't know what she's doing? I don't think so...

Here's where I need input. Despite having a general idea of how I want to decorate the cake, the actual flavors aren't chosen yet. What do you think?

Cake: Chocolate? Red velvet? Butterscotch?
Filling: Chocolate ganache? Buttercream? Caramel icing? Whipped cream?
Outer icing: Chocolate buttercream? Vanilla buttercream? Stabilized whipped cream? Same as the filling?

As the icing got warmer, my script improved. Also, check out the leaf! I patted myself on the back for that one.

Let me know what you think, or if you have any other suggestions. Then come back next week to check out the final product.

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