Cake Decorating For Dummies and Cheaters
Ok, you're not a dummy if you don't feel totally competent when it comes to decorating a cake. Here's the deal, slapping on a can of frosting and some cheap jimmies is fine, but you could do so much better!!! It doesn't necessarily take a special course (although they are fun) and it doesn't always means hours of work. You just have to know what products there are for the pastry challenged or just cake decorators who also happen to like cheating...umm...I mean short cuts (like me!) in a pinch!
Sugar flowers and gum paste flowers are becoming more and more popular. They are incredibly artistic, totally edible, and extremely time consuming to make. Believe me I know. Did you know that you can buy them ready made individually or in sets? They can be found at craft stores in the cake decorating isle, at specialty cake shops, and even online. Flowers aren't just for weddings. They add interest and color to a girls birthday cake, a graduation cake, a baby or bridal shower cake, and so much more!
Other Sugar Decorations
Flowers aren't the only things made out of sugar. You can find just about anything for almost any occasion. After you have frosted the cake, and before you have bombed it with sprinkles, try adding a border around the top and/or bottom with cute sugar pieces. If you don't want to buy that many, just accent the corners. They have decorations for every holiday. I'd have to say my absolute favorite are the little edible paisley embellishments. So cute.
Ribbons and Bows
Another edible decoration that I absolutely love is the edible ribbon. These little beauties (sorry, croc hunter moment) are available in all sorts of colors. You can use them just as you would a regular ribbon. Wrap it around the bottom border or tie it into a bow. There are ribbons that shimmer and ribbons with cute patterns. One very hot option is to wrap your cake with these ribbons like a present.
If you are going to disregard my plea to lay off the jimmies, at least get some cute ones! There is a never ending variety of sprinkles available. It's not that I have anything against the Jimmie. In Germany they call them Maeuserkoettel, or rat turds directly translated. Sounds yummy huh? As an alternative to these miniature nuggets of goodness there is also edible glitter in every color and shaped sprinkles of every kind. An easy way to decorate with sprinkles is to first, place a cookie cutter on the cake. Now fill that puppy up with sprinkles and press them down slightly to secure them to the icing. Next, very slowly lift up the cookie cutter. Magic! A shape made out of sprinkles. Your friends and family will call you a genius.
Edible Cake Images
When edible images first came on the market it was basically a big piece of sugar in various cartoon characters that you smack down on the top of your cake. Now these images have gotten more advanced and versatile. My favorites of all these cheating tools are the side strips. They come in the coolest patterns and designs. You can get them in matching sets of threes to decorate a three layer cake or in kits with just one strip. What you do is wrap these strips around the perimeter of your cake right after you frost it, add some edging, and you are done. If you are still a fan of plastering Barneys face on the top of the cake and calling it a day, I'm still down with that too.
Fondant....yes you can!
Even if you don't know how to cover a cake in fondant, there are a lot of ways to use this edible ode to play dough. You can use plastic candy molds to make your own figures. Just press the fondant into a mold, trim off the excess, pop out your master piece, and stick it on your already frosted cake. What else can this miraculous modeling marvel do you ask? Well, you can also roll it out into three long pieces (kind of like making play dough snakes) and braid or twist them together for a cool border for you cake. Another easy option is to use cookie cutters to cut out different shapes. I like to cut out letters and let them dry for around 24 hours. Then you can attach them to tooth picks with royal icing, let dry 30 min. and then stick them in the cake. Cool beans!
Hand over the chocolate and nobody gets hurt!
Who doesn't like chocolate? I use it in anything and everything I possibly can. Chocolate covered broccoli anyone? There are some sweet decorations made out of chocolate. I'm partial to the chocolate rocks. You can use them to make an ocean scene, outdoor landscape, dinosaur cakes, or a flower garden themed cake, to name just a few examples. I also like to edge my cakes in mini candy bars from time to time. I call them candy bar cakes. Mmmmmm....... so yummy! If chocolate is your inspiration, you just can't go wrong.
DON'T FORGET THE CANDLES!
Candles are another way to up the cool points for a cake. There are a lot of ways to light that baby on fire other than your basic pastel and white striped candles. Look for glowing, sparkling, glitter, neon, spiral, and themed candles to make a birthday cake extra special. Imagine the look on a little boys face when his Star Wars cake has candles that glow like light sabers. He'll never question your degree of awesomeness again.
Anyone can use these products and ideas to make a pretty darn impressive cake. Next time you make a cake flex your creative powers and make something cool. Cake is cake anyway you slice it, but when it looks as awesome as it taste, it's just that much sweeter.
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