How to Decorate a Cake

Baking, Cook, Easter Cakes and Cupcakes, How-To, Learn

A variety of simple decorations can dress up any cake, from layer cakes to simple butter cakes to even — on a ¬†smaller scale — cupcakes. If you’re decorating a cake with a flavored item, like nuts, choose a flavor that complements the cake and adds extra visual interest. Plain cakes can be served as is or dressed up with easy, modest adornments.

 

SIMPLE DECORATIONS FOR LAYER CAKES

 

To decorate a frosted cake with chocolate shavings, use a vegetable peeler to make chocolate curls and shavings as described here¬†— you can use dark, milk or white chocolate, depending on your preference. Place the shavings directly on the frosted cake or, alternatively, apply them as you would the nuts (below).

 

To decorate the top of a cake with raspberries, blackberries or hulled strawberries, place the berries, stem ends down, in the frosting or glaze, arranging them in concentric circles or in a decorative arrangement.

 

To decorate the sides of a frosted cake with chopped toasted nuts, fill a shallow pan with about 2 cups of nuts. Hold the cake over the pan with one hand. Press the nuts into the sides of the cake with the other hand, rotating the cake as you work.

 

EASY ADORNMENTS FOR PLAIN CAKES

 

A light sifting of confectioners’ sugar is an easy way to add a finishing touch to a cake. Just before serving, place the cake on a cooling rack. using a fine-mesh sieve, sift 1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar over the top of the cake, gently tapping the sieve while moving it to apply a light dusting. For a festive touch, place a stencil on top before sifting.

 

Make your cake even more delicious with a drizzle of flavored glaze (vanilla and citrus are both good choices). Place the cake on a cooling rack set on a half-sheet pan. Dip a whisk, fork or spoon into the glaze and drizzle over the top.

 

TO PIPE WITH A PASTRY BAG

 

Fit a pastry bag with a plain or fluted tip. Use smaller tips for buttercream and larger tips for whipped cream. Hold the bag in one hand and fold down the top, forming a cuff. Use a rubber spatula to fill it half full.

 

Unfold the pastry bag and press the frosting down toward the tip. Twist the top half of the bag so the frosting is snug in the lower half. Hold the bag with one hand near the tip and the other holding the bulk of the bag. The tip should be just above the place you want to pipe. Before you decorate the cake, practice on a piece of parchment or waxed paper.

 

To pipe shells along the top or bottom edge of the cake, fit the pastry bag with a fluted tip. Hold the bag at a slight angle. Using your upper hand, apply gentle pressure so that the frosting adheres to the surface, then pull the bag up and toward you, lessening the pressure as you lift away. Release the pressure and bring the tip down and up to cut off the flow of frosting. Repeat the movement at the tip of each shell to create a border.

 

To pipe rosettes, fit the pastry bag with a fluted tip again. Hold the bag perpendicular to the surface. Using your upper hand, apply gentle pressure so that the frosting adheres to the surface, then slowly pull up. Release the pressure to cut off the flow of frosting. Repeat the movement next to each rosette to create a border.

 

To pipe pearls, fit the pastry bag with a plain tip. Hold the bag perpendicular to the surface. Using your upper hand, apply gentle pressure so that the frosting adheres to the surface, then slowly turn the bag in a circular motion to form the pearl. Release the pressure and bring the tip around and up to cut off the flow of frosting. Repeat next to each pearl to create a border.

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