Working with sugar paste can either be frustrating or exciting; the cake icing tools you use determines which it would be. First base for a perfectly covered and fondant decorated cake is proper preparation of the cake.
In this article, we’ll give you some important tips that would help you prepare your cakes well for decoration. We would also share some tips on working with fondant and the cake icing tools to use and how they work. So here goes…
Level Your Cake
There are cake strips sometimes referred to magic strips that are designed to help your cake bake evenly. They provide insulation around the cake pan which enables the cake to bake evenly.
However, no matter how hard many of us try, our cakes always come out of the oven with a dome. This means that we have to level our cakes before we start decorating them.
Cake Icing Tools Required
To get a perfectly prepped cake for decoration, you have to level the cake. For those who have steady hands and can eyeball their cakes correctly, a serrated bread knife can work. But for people who don’t want anything left to chance, the best cake icing tool to use is a cake leveler.
To use a leveler, all you need to do is set the height you want on your cake and then pass the leveler through the cake. This is for the simple cake levelers; there are other cake leveler designs that may be more complicated. For those not so simple designs all you need to do is follow the instructions on the product.
Remember that a level cake is the most basic and important beginning to a perfectly covered cake. So do not be in so much of a hurry that you bypass this step.
Start out with small slices so that you don’t cut off too much from your cake. You can always cut off more cake to even out the top but you can’t reattach cut off strips. There are hacks to save the day if you cut the cake too low but wouldn’t you rather avoid that stress?
Fill and Stack your Cakes Properly
Unless you are making a single layer cake, you would have to fill your cake layers and stack them properly before icing. This also applies when you are making multi tiered cakes.
Cake Icing Tools Required
The cake slicer is not too essential as you can also use the cake lever to tort your cake but a cake lifter is important.
The cake lifter is a part of essential fondant decorating tools because it can be hard to move your cake layers. This is more so when you are working with large cakes. A cake lifter looks like a wider version of a spatula that may or may not have a handle. It can also be described like a shovel that’s made of stainless steel but with blunt edges.
A cake lifter helps you move around your cake layers without damage; they also help you detach delicate cake recipes from the cake pan. They come in round, rectangle, oval and in between shapes.
The shape is not the most important feature of the cake lifter. The most important feature is the thinness and sturdiness of the edges. This would ensure that is slips easily under the cake without damaging the bottom of the cake.
To avoid your cake lifter sticking to the bottom of the cake you can dust the cake lifter with corn starch. This would help the cake slip off easily from the cake lifter.
Crumb Coat and Ice the Cake Properly
After you have leveled, sliced and filled your cake layers properly, you can now go ahead and ice the cake properly.
Some cake decorators would just cover their cakes in one coat of butter icing while others prefer to crumb coat and then coat a second time.
Whatever method you choose, you have to ensure that your cake is smoothly frosted as this would affect the end result.
Cake Icing Tools Required
The cake icing tools that are necessary for this step are cake turntable, spatulas and icing scraper/smoother.
A cake turntable helps make the job of covering and smoothing the cake easier.
Place your cake on a turntable, scoop and cover your cake with a spatula and then smooth it out with a cake scraper.
There are many designs of these three cake icing tools that we have mentioned. There is no design that is the best because people’s choices are based on their preferences. However each of these designs has its advantages and disadvantages.
Time and space would fail us to enumerate them in this article. But you can read verified buyer reviews to help you make up your mind on which design would work best for you.
After you have smoothly iced your cake, let it sit for at least two hours so that the layers can set before you cover with fondant. This is to avoid bulges between layers after you have covered with fondant. You can also place your cake in the fridge to firm up for about 30 minutes before covering with fondant.
This means that you have to factor in the time for allowing the cake to set into your prep time.
Cake decorating is a venture that requires proper time management. Professional cake decorators can get away with some shortcut methods because of experience. However, beginner cake decorators should stick strictly to steps and instructions until they get the hang of the whole process.
Get All Your Tools Ready
Before you proceed to work on your fondant, you have to be sure that you have all the tools you need at hand.
With all the leveling and slicing and filing the cake, your work surface would be dirty and full of cake crumbs. Set the cake aside (if it is not in the freezer) and clean your work surface.
Remember that your coated cake has to be left to set. So you can use this time to set out all the other fondant tools needed. Some of these tools include rolling mat, rolling pin, dusting pouch, cutting wheel or knife, acupuncture needles or sewing pins to deflate air bubbles and fondant smoother.
Prepare your Fondant
Ensure that your fondant is at room temperature before you begin to knead it. if you don’t time to wait, you can stick it in a microwave for about 10 seconds. Do not leave it longer than that so that it doesn’t get too soft and sticky.
It’s always better to color your fondant a day or two before using it; this would enable the color to set. Furthermore, your fondant would be restored to its original consistency if you let it sit for a day or two. What this means is that you have to prepare your fondant beforehand.
Your fondant must be well kneaded before you begin to roll it out. If fondant is not properly kneaded before rolling it would tend to crack and tear. Patience is key when working with fondant.
Roll Out Fondant Properly
Fondant must always be rolled out on a smooth surface that’s been lightly dusted with corn starch. If you live in a humid climate, use corn starch and icing sugar but if you live in a dry climate, use vegetable shortening.
If your fondant is soft and sticky as you roll, then you need a mix of icing sugar and corn starch. Some decorators have discovered that using icing sugar in highly humid climates can contribute to condensation in fondant. So it might be best for you to stick to only corn starch.
If your fondant is cracking and tearing, then use vegetable shortening; use it to knead properly and then roll out the fondant.
Tips and Reminders
Remember that your cake has to be smoothly frosted; fondant doesn’t cover up bumps and imperfections, it shows it off. So whatever medium (ganache or butter cream) you are using ensure that it is smoothly applied.
Always roll out the required amount of fondant. If you roll out too much, the fondant would be too heavy to maneuver. One way to avoid excess fondant is to measure the cake from one end to the other; over the top. This measurement would help you to know the right quantity of fondant to roll out.
When covering the cake with fondant do not use your fingers. It’s either you use a rolling pin or you drape the fondant over your arms. If you use a rolling pin to lift the fondant, you’ll be distributing the weight evenly over it.
The same applies to when you use both hands.
Cake Icing Tools Required
To roll out your fondant, you’ll need a rolling mat, rolling pin, fondant smoother and cutting wheel or knife.
- Rolling Mat – A rolling mat can either be plain or have measurement. Measurement rolling mats are ideal for roiling out exact amount of fondant needed. Although you can roll out your fondant on any smooth, non stick surface, rolling mats do help a lot.
- Rolling Pin – It goes without saying that you can’t roll out fondant without a rolling pin. Fondant rolling pins are just like ordinary pastry rolling pins but there’s a slight difference. Most fondant rolling pins come with measurement rings. This helps you to roll out the fondant to the thickness or thinness required.
- Dusting Pouch – A dusting pouch is useful for dusting your work surface with cornstarch. Sewing pins come in handy for removing air bubbles from the rolled fondant.
- Fondant Smoother – A fondant smoother is used to smooth out seams and edges in fondant. And finally the fondant is trimmed with a cutting wheel or knife.
Once you cover your cake with fondant, you use the smoother to smooth out the fondant starting from the top. You can use your hands to smooth out fondant but the heat or sweat from your palms can damage the fondant.
- Cutting Wheel or Knife – After the fondant is properly attached to the cake and smoothened out, you cut off the excess with a cutting wheel or knife.Although you can use an ordinary kitchen knife to trim your fondant, a cutting wheel does it better. Some cake decorators use scalpels or O knives; these instruments are quite sharp and has to be handled with care. However, they are also more precise than cutting wheels
Remember that sweaty palms would spoil your fondant so it’s better to use a fondant smoother to polish your fondant.
Ensure that your fondant is rolled out to the right width. If it’s too thick, it would sit too heavily on the cake and if it’s too thin, it would tear.
When you roll out your fondant, polish it with the fondant smoother before covering the cake. This helps add extra smoothness and polish to the fondant.
Get the Right Base for Your Cake
Fondant covered cakes are usually heavier than most cake frostings. For this reason, you need a strong base for the cake. If you use the lightweight cake boards that are used for butter iced cakes or recipes other than fondant.
If you use a lightweight cake board as the base for a fondant covered cake, it might be risky. The board can bend and result in the fondant tearing in transit.
The best base to use for a cake covered is a cake drum. A cake drum is a made up of many layers of cardboard covered in paper. Most cake drums are at least half inch thick; some are thicker. They are either wrapped in silver or gold foil. Some brands also wrap their cake drums in other types of fancy foils.
Tips for Getting the Right Cake Base
You can either buy ready made cake drums or make them yourself. As we said earlier, cake drums are made of several layers of cardboard and are at least half inch thick.
You can either use cardboards to make the cake drum or plywood. Either of them would work just fine; just ensure that the paper or foil you use to cover it is food safe.
We have discovered that plywood works better for very large cake projects. It is safer to have a cake base that’s too heavy than to have one that’s too light.
If you have followed the above steps for prepping and decorating your cake, then you’re well on your way to a perfectly decorated cake.
Watch out for more tips on how to decorate your fondant covered cakes and the types of tools you would need.