If you’ve ever seen Cake Boss or the Great British Baking Show, you might imagine decorating a cake to be a daunting task. Surprisingly, there are simple ways to DIY your confection. Once you get the basics down, the rest is, well, a piece of cake.
1. To State the Obvious
If you want to decorate a professional looking cake, you need a base first. When it comes to decorating, it doesn’t make a difference if the cake is made from scratch or a box kit. However, you should decide the shape and height before you get to baking.
2. Tools and Supplies
When it comes to cake decorating tools, the variety you choose to invest in is completely up to you. Some common must-haves are cooling racks, spatulas (offset, rubber and icing are the most basic), piping bags and icing tips. As far as supplies go, you’re going to need icing and food coloring if you want an interesting color. Depending on what kind of look you’re going for, you may also want to get sprinkles, fresh fruit or other toppings. If you’re looking for a super clean finish, you could also choose to use fondant, which has a more clay-like consistency, usually used for more elaborate cakes.
3. A Clean Canvas
Now that you have your sponge, tools and supplies, you can start decorating your cake. After baking and letting it cool, put your cake in the freezer for at least a couple hours. Then apply a crumb coat, which is a very thin base layer of icing that prevents crumbs that can flake off while decorating. It makes for a smoother, more professional-looking finish. After the crumb coat, chill again to set.
4. The Fun
Once your cake is chilled and ready to be fully decorated, add another layer of icing over the crumb coat. Use a bench scraper to remove excess frosting and create sharper edges. From there, you can take some creative liberty. Here are some fun ideas:
- Craft a summer-inspired cake by making your frosting green, creating a garden on top of the cake with multicolored flowers using piping bags and icing tips. Butterfly sprinkles would add a nice touch to this if desired.
- Design an ocean-themed cake with different shades of blue icing on all sides, using a fork, knife or spatula to create the illusion of waves. Top it with a (nonedible) plastic surfboard or sea creature.
- Cut up some fruit and create an Edible Arrangements bouquet on the top of the cake for a super fresh (and delicious) product.
- Build a University of Miami-themed cake using orange and green icing, sprinkles and piping the “U” logo in the middle.
words_nicole julianna facchina. photo_daniella pinzon. design_demetrius williams.
This article was published in Distraction’s summer 2021 print issue.