Professional Cake Decorator Yolanda Mathias explains.
To achieve the best result, you’ll need some basic knowledge of the art of cake decorating. Knowing and understanding the Fundamentals and Essentials of cake decorating will help a great deal.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT INGREDIENTS
If possible always choose the brand that’s been sifted 10x to give you a smoother and shinier icing result. Most confectioner sugar we purchase contains cornstarch. Knowing how much cornstarch is present with the confectioner sugar allows you to determine how much water to add with your recipe to arrive to your desired consistency. The higher the cornstarch in the confectioner sugar tends to give you a drier icing. When icing cracks, it is an indication that water need to be added.
Humidity also plays a big role in creating a perfect icing. The higher the humidity, the better for icing to stay moist.
Shortening vs. Butter
Deciding whether to use shortening, that gives you whiter icing. Butter gives you a better flavor but more of a yellowish color. Using either one with the right amount will give you a creamier texture.
A variety of extracts are available to improve the taste of our icing. Clear extract are used to maintain white icing color. These extracts come in Butter, Almond, and Vanilla flavor.
Meringue powder is a processed dried egg white in powder form that helps to stabilize icing. Using this gives you a consistent result which will be difficult with fresh egg whites due to various egg sizes.
MIXING: To properly mix, combine all of the ingredients at a medium speed for at least 5-7 minutes (but no more than 10 minutes!). This will give you a smoother, creamier and shinier icing. If you under beat, you will get a clumpy texture. If you over beat, it incorporates too much air.
THE RIGHT TOOLS
Knowing and having the right tools to make your cake decorating easier is essential.
Assorted Decorating Bags
Decorating bags are available in paper, disposable, polyester or canvas. They come in all different sizes.
This is also known as “butter paper” or “non-stick paper” also used to smooth out imperfections in the icing on your cake after it dries and formed a crust .
Plastic or metal decorating tips are available; they come in various sizes and shapes (star tips, leaf tubes, round tips, petal tips up to special tips, etc.). Larger tips such as icer -not only will give you a uniform finish also helps you frost a cake faster and easier.
Pastry tips give your cupcake a perfect swirl finish.
Straight or angled with metal blade should be used to ice cakes.
Plastic or metal scrapers can be used to smoothen sides of the cake.
Use this tool to give your icing a shinier finish, also it can be tinted in any color and used for writing.
This is a concentrated gel formula used to color icing or fondant without changing its consistency.
This angled, flexible plastic scissor like tool is used for transferring flowers from nail to cake without damage.
Used to give decorator more control in piping flowers.
Revolving stand used to make decorating cake easier.
THE RIGHT CONSISTENCY
An icings consistency can be modified depending on what you’re trying to accomplish.
Thin Consistency: To ice your cake, make flowers, inscriptions, vines and leaves.
By adding 2 teaspoon of water for every cup, you can thin out your icing consistency. This is what your normally use to ice your cake. The texture is almost like of a whipped crème. Thin consistency is also what you need to do your inscription on your cake. To make flower leaves, vines and other cake decorating techniques.
Medium Consistency: To make flowers, borders such as shells, etc.
Add 1 teaspoon of water for every cup.
Stiff Consistency: Used to make flowers such as roses, petals, and all other designs that prevent from drooping.
THE RIGHT TIMING
Timing is one of the important factor to achieve a clean, smooth iced cake. Icing a cake cannot be rushed. Adequate preparation is needed. It will start from cake preparation. An ideal baked cake free from imperfections such as lumps or holes plays an important role to achieve a perfectly iced cake. Using the right icing consistency will make your work easier. Freezing and allowing some time for the icing to dry is also an important step. Knowing and understanding all the fundamentals and essentials and above all, developing the icing technique will produce a smooth and perfect iced cake.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Question: How can I ice a cake without crumbs showing everywhere?
Answer: It is best to ice a cake if it’s frozen. Allow it to thaw for a few minutes. Brush any crumbs around your cake first. Apply a thin coat of icing to your cake to seal off all loose crumbs. Freeze it again for another 10 minutes before you apply your next coat. Once the first coat dries, all the crumbs will be glued and applying the 2nd coat will be easier. Using the right icing (Thin consistency) and you should be able to ice your cake without any sign of crumbs.
Question: How will I know how many times a brand of sugar has been sifted?
Answer: Some brand will give you that information on the package. Ex: Kroger Brand
Question: How do I know how much cornstarch is present in the sugar?
Answer: Some brand will give you that information on the package.
Question: Why should you use meringue powder instead of fresh egg whites?
Answer: Due to various egg sizes, arriving to the right icing consistency cannot be guaranteed. This holds up our icing especially during hot weather.
Question: When do we really need to use piping gel?
Answer: Piping gel is use for inscription on your cake. It prevents your icing from cracking or breaking.
Question: What is a cake Icer?
Answer: It is also known as quick icer. It is use to make icing on your cake a breeze.
Question: What is parchment paper?
Answer: To most bakers, it is also known as “Butter paper”. It can also be used as decorating bag. This non-stick paper is use to smooth out imperfections such as bumps or ridges from your cake after it has formed a crust.
Question: Can I use the ready-made icing purchased from the grocery store?
Answer: Yes, but only to ice your cake. This ready- made icing comes in thin consistency. Achieving other decorating technique such as flower will droop and not hold.
Yolanda Mathias’s teaching background spans over the last 6 years. She has taught all over the Salt Lake Valley as a certified Wilton instructor at various craft stores such as Roberts, and JoAnn’s. Currently, she teaches privately and for Mt. Jordan School District.
A degree holder from Asia and continued education in California, Yolanda has developed her skills and techniques over the year and has won countless merit awards. Her teachings have taken her back to Asia where she taught new innovative designs and techniques at schools, bakeries and high end catering services.
Yolanda and her family settled in beautiful Salt Lake City where she continues her work as a cake decorator. “it’s not as congested as California,” she will say, “there’s always a sense o f home and lets not forget the gorgeous mountain views!”
For more information about her classes, visit www.myspace.com/yolandascakedecorating.