How to Decorate a Cake

  1. The first step of every decorating job is to have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish, both on the top and the sides.
  2. Make any decorations you can in advance.
  3. Decide what type of base decoration you prefer, piping, frills, ribbons, etc.
  4. Think through how you want to cover your base board—simple is elegant, so don’t overdo it.
  5. Plan out your work: be sure your tools are at hand, clean and spotless.
  6. Now it’s time to cover the cake, see below for details.
  7. Using double sided sticky tape, put a ½ inch ribbon around the edge of your cake board. Chose a colour to compliment or harmonise with the finished cake.
  8. Use a large soft brush to lightly dust your finished cake in order to give it a soft, sheened look
  9. Place the finished cake in a clean cake box and store in a dry, cool location until ready for use. Remember, your fridge is extremely humid and most cakes will absorb moisture, damaging their quality.
  10. Assemble the sides of the cake first, and then follow with the top.
  11. Often your finished cake will turn out different from what you first imagined. This may be because of a change in design or simply because the cake pieces did not fit together the way you planned. Don’t be discouraged, seize the initiative, use your imagination and you might end up with an unusual, unique cake. You’ll surprise yourself with what you can achieve.

Icing the Board

  1. Brush the entire board with piping jelly.
  2. Roll out the fondant, transfer to your board and then trim with a pie-plate edge.
  3. Decorate as desired with embosses or crimpers. There are many options for adding decorative touches with ribbons and colours.

Covering a Fruit Cake with Marzipan

  1. Your rich fruit cake should be between 2 ½-3 inches high. It should have been fed with brandy or sherry over a period of weeks for the best results.
  2. Turn your cake upside down. This will give you a good flat surface to work on. A good base ensures a good finish.
  3. Place the cake on a sheet of greaseproof paper. This will ensure ease of movement when transferring to the finished base.
  4. After icing the board, transfer the cake to the board.
  5. Fill in any holes, e.g. left by currants or other fruit, with dots of marzipan. If you have a gap at the base (due to the centre rising during baking), roll a thin sausage-shape of marzipan and press it into the gap around the base of the cake.
  6. Brush the cake completely with apricot or marmalade puree.
  7. Roll out the softened marzipan into roughly the right shape for the cake. If you are unsure whether it is the right size, use a piece of new, clean string to measure across the cake and down the sides and then compare it to your rolled out marzipan.
  8. Lift and roll the marzipan onto the rolling pin and transfer to the cake. Using a smoother if possible, smooth over the top. With your warm hands, gently press your covering onto the cake. If you are working with a square cake, do the corners first.
  9. The edges of your marzipan should now be resting on the board. Trim off the excess leaving ¼ inch to get a good seal. Smooth all over to get a good finish. Retrim the base to ensure there are no gaps. The cake is now ready for covering with fondant or royal icing.
  10. Leave to dry for at least 24 hours, preferable two or three days. In an emergency a cake can be marzipanned and iced with fondant the same day, but will need drying time before being transferred to an iced board.

Covering a Cake with Fondant (Sponge or Fruit)

  1. Brush your marzipanned fruit cake with gin or vodka. This will help seal the fondant to the marzipan as well as disinfect the surface.
  2. Roll out the softened fondant on a clean surface sprinkled with plenty of icing sugar. Keep the fondant moving or it will stick to the surface. Make sure it is large enough to cover the cake well. Do not scrimp on the amount you use.
  3. Lift and roll the fondant onto the rolling pin, lift and transfer to the cake.
  4. With your smoother polish the top and sides of the cake, starting gently to disperse any air bubbles. Pay extra attention to the top edges as this is where the fondant tends to crack. These can be smoothed out while the icing is still soft with a gentle warm hand. The excess fondant should now be resting on the board.
  5. Use a knife to trim away the excess fondant, again leaving ¼ inch to ensure a good finish.
  6. Polish the surface and sides with the smoother for a good gloss. Retrim if necessary.
  7. Decorate when dried. The board and the cake may be covered at the same time; smooth the fondant on the cake down over the board.
  8. For sponge cakes, start by cutting the cake in half and fill with crème or jam filling. Spread butter crème over the top and sides for the fondant to adhere to. Proceed as above from step #2.

Working with Plaques

  1. Roll out your flour paste to a thickness of 1/8 inch.
  2. Decide which cutter to use to cut out the plaque. Pastry or biscuit cutters work well and you can use special shapes. Cutting around something as simple as a saucer will give you a larger plaque.
  3. Leave the plaque to dry on a corn-floured board in a warm and dry place. After 24 hours turn it over and leave for a further 24 hours. The plaque should now be hard and dry.
  4. Create your design on tracing paper and then hold it over the plaque to be sure it fits.
  5. Retrace over your lines on the reverse side of the tracing paper. Turn the tracing back on its right side and now place it over the plaque. Once again trace over your original lines. Your picture should now have been transferred onto the plaque.
  6. Paint as you wish, using dusting colours and clear alcohol, e.g. gin or vodka. Never use water!
  7. For a different effect a patchwork cutter may be used while the paste is still soft. Just press the picture in and dry the plaque as usual before painting.
  8. Other effects with patchwork cutters include bas relief, brush embroidery and decoupage. These will give your plaques a three dimensional look.

Making Roses

  1. At least 24 hours in advance, place a small cone of flour paste onto a hooked, 24-gauge wire and allow to dry
  2. Using the five petal blossom cutter, cut out your flower from thinly rolled flower paste.
  3. Thin the edges of the petals on the cel pad with a ball tool, making sure that the tool is half on the paste, half on the cel pad.
  4. Your petals should now have soft edges and look slightly frilled.
  5. Brush the dried cone with glue. Thread the blossom onto the wire and push it up the stem until it sits at the base of the cone.
  6. Take the first petal and wrap it completely around the cone.
  7. Take the petal next to the last one and overlapping the first wrap it again gently around the last one, using the glue when necessary, but leave the last side open.
  8. With the next petal tuck it under the previous one to start with and again leave the other side open. Carry on wrapping the petals tucking each one under the last until you have used them all.
  9. One complete layer will make a partly open bud. Two or three layers will make a full blown rose.
  10. You can turn back the edges of the petals with your fingertips. Add a green calyx as a finishing touch plus a small ball of green paste.
  11. Make the leaves as usual or wire as required.
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