3 Big Mistakes Cake Decorators Make…And How To Avoid Them!
Every cake decorator wants their cake to be perfect. While we all know that perfection doesn’t exist, that doesn’t stop any of us from trying!
We all want to make the best tasting and the most beautiful (or cute!) cake possible. We want to delight our children and impress our in-laws. But to do so, we need a little help and guidance to see us through some of the more challenging cake baking and decorating techniques.
Each of these face-saving tips has been brought to you today from frustrated readers (like yourself?) So Thank You to all who submitted questions. These tips are for you!
1. How do I freeze my cakes so they won’t dry out?
The wise cake decorator plans their cake projects well in advance of the special event. Sometimes pre-planning is not possible, like when your grade schooler informs you at bedtime that you were chosen (because word gets around when you’re good … ) to make the teacher’s birthday cake for tomorrow’s party.
But most often, you’ll be given more than twelve hours notice and know well in advance when you’ll be making a special cake.
One key step in pre-planning is learning how to properly freeze your cakes. This way you can do the actual baking days, even weeks, before filling and icing them.
Baking your cakes early will save you a lot of time and hassle in the days and hours before an important event. The one worry about freezing cakes is that they will become dry and tasteless. But freezing cakes won’t necessarily dry them out if they are properly wrapped and stored. It is best to freeze cakes plain without icing.
Wrap the cake with 2-3 layers of plastic wrap and then one layer of aluminum foil to keep both air and moisture out. Properly wrapped and frozen, your cake will remain fresh for up to two months, even longer for heavier cakes such as pound or fruitcakes.
Remove your cake from the freezer a day or two before you are planning to ice and decorate to allow it to completely thaw.
Defrost to room temperature and then ice. The problem with freezing cakes already iced is that the icing will pick up condensation from the air and “sweat” during the defrosting process.
You’ll end up with soggy icing and droopy decorations. That’s not good. So show the world that you are wise to the ways of cakes and make it a habit to bake your cakes early!
2. How do I keep my filling from bulging out the sides of my cake into the icing?
In the cake decorating world, there is a great battle being fought every single day in kitchens around the world. It’s the Battle of the Bulge and frustrated bakers are desperately crying out for help.
“How do I keep my filling from bulging out the sides of my cake into the icing?” Baking your cakes one day in advance will also help with bulging filling. Firm and settled cakes will support heavy, gooey fillings better than weak and unsettled cakes. There is an actual procedure that promises to contain your fillings and keep them from overflowing their boundaries.
1) Pipe (with a #10 round tip or similar large size) an icing dam around the outer edge of each layer to contain the filling. The dam will act as a barrier and will prevent the filling from escaping to the outer edge of the cake.
2) Cover your entire assembled cake with a crumb coat of a thinned version of your final icing.
3) Refrigerate your cake for 2-3 hours to allow for both the cake and crumb coat to firm up.
Once chilled the icing dams plus the crumb coat will work together to seal your cake and contain the filling. Ice your cake with the final icing, and voila! No more bulge!
3. I have a hard time with crumbs in my icing. What can I do?
The crumb. Such an itty bitty piece of cake and such a big, HUGE, nuisance when it comes time to ice a cake. The crumb will come with a million of his closest friends to invade your beautiful white and smooth icing.
It’s enough to drive a baker crazy! Luckily there is a fool proof way to protect your sanity. You can simply apply what is known as a “crumb coat.”
A crumb coat is a thin layer of icing or glaze that you apply to your assembled cake to seal the cake and cement any crumbs to the cake’s surface. Once the crumb coat has set and dried (a few minutes), you won’t have to worry about any crumbs sticking to your final icing.
To apply a crumb coat, take some of your icing and thin it with extra of whatever liquid is part of the recipe - water, milk, or cream, until you get an almost runny consistency. Spread the thinned icing over the entire cake, covering it completely.
Don’t worry about crumbs getting mixed into the icing or how the cake looks (it won’t look too beautiful at this point). Once the crumb coat of icing has dried, all your crumbs will become glued to the surface and the cake will have a protective shell holding it all together. You can speed up the drying process by placing your cake in the refrigerator.
Applying the crumb coat obviously adds a little time to your cake decorating, but it’s always time well spent. It significantly reduces the frustration of having crumbs mix into the final icing and does a great job of firming up the cake base. Now that you’ve been armed with these face saving tips and techniques, you’ll be ready to take on any cake, anytime, anywhere!