Category Archives: Cake Art

The Best Way To Stack Tiered Cakes – To Enhance Grandeur In Cake Artistry




Introduction

In the past I used to go to these massive Tongan weddings and seen the extravagant way cakes were displayed and was amazed at the way they were structured. I know that I had made a previous post about the best ways to display cake art, but today, I wish to focus on tiered cakes.

Therefore, my article today is all about the best tiered techniques for Cake Artistry.

I will show you tips, that may be help towards developing your own cake decorations skills and to learn all about stacking and cake tiers.

What Does A Tiered Cake mean?

A tiered cake means there are more than one cake, each in a series stacked one on top of the other, in a hierarchy of levels either horizontally, vertically or at an angle.
Tiers are counted, ranking lowest to the highest by the height rank/level, as seen in the chart below:


Art-Thou-Cakes-Simple-Tiered-Cake-Chart


According to historical tradition tiered cakes were only limited to three. Why? here is why.

The story goes, that between the years of late 1700s and early 1800s, the first tiered cake was invented by a London pastry chef called William Rich. William had fashioned his cake design on the steeple of London's St Bride church.

The original cake tiers were alternated with fake cakes, because, of the ingredients used during this time and how it was processed, icing came out very heavy. Columns could not hold their weight.

Therefore, the lower cake and the in-between tier cakes were fake, but decorated with icing, and once they hardened, they were placed in between to hold the real cakes in place.

Tools

There are many ways to display cakes, as I had mentioned before in my previous post, however when it comes to creating several cake tiers, there are certain structural tools and rules we need to know before doing any structural work.

It is an art, in which you create a visionary dimension of grandeur and beauty. However, these also need a strong foundation.

Therefore, we need to know how to make sure that your creation remains standing throughout the whole time of display. to do this, we need to use the right tools:

  • Cake cards to be used underneath the actual cakes (invisible to viewers and thinner than cake boards or drums).


  • Plastic Straws/Rods or Wooden Skewers


  • Small metal Pliers to cut the rods/skewers


  • Scissors if using plastic straws



  • Strong Cake Lifter


  • Piping bag with the same icing used on the cake - used to fill up rod holes and to glue cakes to the boards



    Certain Aspects To Consider Before Stacking

    Before we even look at stacking, we need to consider certain aspects of the cakes, such as:

    • How many people are catered for?
    • What are the sizes of each tier?
    • How heavy are the cakes - the density (much heavier if they are layered, and have decorative toppers)
    • What sort of icing does it have?
    • The thickness of the frosting/icings
    • The thickness and diameter of cake boards/drums being used
    • The distance for delivery
    • Length of time cakes are on display
    • Will you use fake cake dummies or polystyrene dividers?
    • How will your cakes be stored and moved?

    How To Determine Catering Numbers By Cake Size

    Now, when we create cakes, we should always consider the total amount of people that will be eating the cake.

    The professional cake artists, use these measurements to also determine the worth and the price of their creation.

    When I first started my cake artistry, I found it really difficult to ask for what my cake was actually worth and always gave myself the reason that, since I am not a professional, my cakes were not up to par and therefore, always ended up under selling myself.

    It was not until I completed the online courses, that I learned, that by under selling my own talents, I was also hurting every other home baker/cake decorator.

    I lessened the worth of every other skilled cake artist, by lessening my worth, and it did no justice to anyone.

    Therefore, I had to change my mind set, and charge my worth. I do not charge the same price as professionals or bake shops, however, I no longer under sell, because of embarrassment for asking too much.

    I have started using the calculation chart that many professionals use to estimate their own cake pricing. The formula used is easy to implement and backs me up when I need to show my customers, what I charge and the reason why.

    I have provided a copy of Art Thou Cake's pricing list as an example, so that you can use this for your own cake decorating business. Please note that the prices are, in NZ Dollars and not USD, therefore you may need to adjust it accordingly.

    See my chart below:


    Art Thou Cakes Pricing List


    The chart represents a basic calculation that anyone can use. The calculation formula is basically, the amount of serving per cake multiplied by the cost of each slice, to get the price per cake order.

    However, the size of the cake pan determines how many servings you can get out of each cake.

    I use the above chart to estimate my costs, but include extras such as custom-made toppers (remember toppers alone, can cost more than $100 on their own, so make sure this is included as an extra in your final invoice or quote).

    Another cost that is not indicated in the chart, is the delivery of the cakes and any extra display/decor (sometimes, the customer will leave the whole table decoration and display for you to figure out, and it may pay for you to start a small stand collection, in case this happens).

    For more help in getting the correct pricing, I suggest that you visit Cakerschool for their comprehensive course on how to build your cake decorating business.

    >>>CLICK FOR MORE INFORMATION

    I hope that I have given you enough information to be able to build your own confidence and to never under sell yourself again.

    Stacking The Tiers

    Most people still have no idea on how to stack cakes. It is easy, only if you have the correct tools and techniques.

    I can list you all the techniques I have, but everyone has a different way of stacking tiered cakes. I prefer to use only straws for stacking my cake tiers and some prefer the stability of wooden rods.

    Again it is a personal preference for me, because I am not so sure about the safety of snapped wood, leaving splinters inside cakes.

    The other reason, I prefer to use straws, is the fact that they will not leave or take away from the cake, with regard to flavor or smell.

    If you use wooden rods, you will need to make sure that they are first of all FDA approved.

    I always believe that the best way to learn how to do something well, is to watch someone else, and one of my favorite cake decorators is Krazy Kool Cakes & Designs. They are an awesome husband-wife team who have a series of cake decorating YouTube videos. I watch her series for tips and additional learning for my own cake designs.

    I like how the videos are very clear in the verbal instructions, which takes you through at a nice pace and ensuring that you can view what she is doing, without any distractions.

    If you don't want to do some online course to learn how to stack, then go ahead, just watch Laura yourself, and how she stacks her cakes, in this video.

    Conclusion

    If you have never learned the art of stacking tiered cakes, and would like to give it a try, then, I hope that the information that you have gained in my article will enable you, to further develop in your cake decorating skills.

    I also hope, that you will know your worth and never under sell yourself and the real value of your cakes.

    If you have any questions regarding any of the information in my article, or would like to share your own experiences, then please leave me a comment below, so that I may respond.

    May you have a wonderful day of cake decorating.

    We shall chat soon.

    Cake Artistry Featured Image

     

    ilaisaane@artthoucakes.com

    Brother CM350 ScanNCut 2 Home & Hobby Cutting Machine Review – Dressing Up My Cakes



    If you have a successful little cake artistry business at home, it is a good idea to have as many quality working tools for your different cake decorating mediums and techniques, as possible.

    Why? do you ask…

    … Because, the more you become popular, the more your business will grow, and the more quality of techniques will be required. Not only this, but people have so much access to information these days that they see an image of something that they like and will come to you expecting you to create something very similar to what they saw on a magazine, at a wedding, on social media, or even a celebrity’s fan page.

    A lot of my orders are visual images sent to my messenger from potential customers asking if I am able to do this or that. Guess what my answer is always going to be? YES!

    Again, why? you ask…

    Every potential customer can become a regular customer, and if you say, NO – guess what? these customers can go down the road and get someone else who will say, YES.

    But… You may think…what if I do not have the right tools or skills…

    Ahem…doh!..that is exactly what I am trying to say here…get the skills (either online or learn from anything, heck my posts have given you so much information already) and buy the right tools.

    Today, I am going to share one of those tools. A tool that I had mentioned in my most recent post.

    It is the craft paper cutting machine.

    The one I will focus on is the Brother CM350 ScanNCut 2 Home & Hobby Cutting Machine, which I will do a product review for (this is the latest version of the first one; Brother CM350 ScanNCut 1), to show you the amazing things that can be created with this versatile product.

    Product Details

    Brand and Name:


    Brother CM350 ScanNCut 2 Home & Hobby Cutting Machine Standard Cut Blade Bundle

    The Cheapest Place to Buy:

    Amazon

    Price:


    Click here for pricing

    Shipping Costs:

    Extra if outside of US

    Dimensions:

    22.9 x 10.5 x 10.9 inches


    Shipping Weight:

    14 pounds

    Category Selling Rank:

    Amazon’s Top 200 best-selling items in the Home Arts and Crafts category

    Product Guarantee:

    Yes

    My Rating: 10/10

    Specifications

    • Extra Large 4.85″ Non-Glare Color LCD Touch Screen
    • High Quality 300 DPI Built-in Scanner with RGB Recognition
    • Larger 12″ x 12″ Scanning Area
    • There are 631 Built-in Designs – and Includes 100 Applique Patterns
    • It has 7 Built-in Fonts
    • Wireless
    • Includes Standard Cut Blade and Blade Holder
    • Comes with instructions – operation manual and quick reference guide
    • Software program – Scanncutcanvas (optional use – as machine can be used as a standalone)

    Included In The Bundle

    • A pouch with stylus pen (for the screen), blades, and small spatula
    • Black and red pens with holder for the drawing modem
    • AC power adapter
    • A scan and cut mat
    • Rhinestone trial kit
    • CD and Activation code for the Scanncutcanvas program

    What Customers Say About This Product

    The Amazon Customer Star Rating is 5/5!

    “…I bought the first one on 2015 and no complaining at all, now I got this one on Christmas, it makes my work easier…[and]faster, before I had to use a USB driver all the time…Love it.”

    “Great product and tons of fun to use. I love the CanvasWorkspace software too.”

    How to Use The Brother CM350 ScanNCut 2 Home & Hobby Cutting Machine

    Setting up is easy, you simply follow the instructions and turn on your machine, download software to PC and then you are good to go. The fact that it is wireless is even better, for experience and productivity.

    Let The Fun Begin!

    Okay, the fun part! I promise you will find this machine so versatile, probably more than any other product that I have used for cake decorations or for any other craft creating, I would like to add.

    You can use prints from the internet (just make sure that you have rights to do so, though) and any images of your own (created on paint or photographed).

    For edible decorations I would cut shapes for pop up art straight on to edible wafer paper:

    • Butterflies
    • Balloons
    • Unicorn horns
    • Wizard hat – or Cowboy hat as a 3D feature cake topper
    • 2D/3D Flowers stuck cascading down the sides of a tiered cake
    • Climbing Leaves
    • Roses
    • Flower Petal Shapes to be sprinkled as part of a wedding table decor
    • Edible Notes for customers, placed on cupcakes or desserts at a wedding
    • A page with writing as part of a book shaped cake
    • Shadows and shapes (I.e., cloud shapes, tree shapes, face shadows, Halloween ghosts, and Holiday themed shapes)
    • Lace doilies for cake boards or cake displays
    • Edible shapes for a cake board divider
    • Edible lace
    • Cut edible company logo shapes for your cakes
    • Cut out shapes of numbers and letters for cakes
    • Cut out shapes for Rainbows

    Maintenance & Storage

    Your machine can be stored in a cupboard within its box and brought out whenever you need it. It is easily maintained as long as you keep it away from dust and moist, it will keep for a very long time – until your next upgrade (if, that is, you are an avid craft maker, always looking for the next best thing).

    Is The Brother CM350 ScanNCut 2 Home & Hobby Cutting Machine Only for Cake Decorating?

    No, by all means, you can practically use this machine for anything else you want to cut, here are a few examples:

    • Create lovely scalloped edgings for table mats
    • Create stencils out of thin plastic for your edible cake laces
    • Use for cutting themed shapes into plain serviettes for dinner guests
    • Create nice fabric doilies
    • Create fun shapes to enjoy sticking into scrap books with your children
    • Create lovely themed hanging decorations for a baby shower, Christmas dinner etc.
    • Shaped food coverings
    • Lovely Wall paper art for your children’s bedrooms
    • Lovely plastic window stick on (I use large butterfly shapes for my car windows to keep my kids shaded from the burning NZ sun)
    • Create your business logo shapes
    • Any 3D projects (flower girls or bride’s bouquet)
    • T-shirt prints/designs/logos
    • Fabric appliques for cushions, clothes, shoes, pet clothes, blankets, quilts, table cloths, baby bibs etc.
    • Stuffed animal toy shapes to be sewn together

    Watch this video for an example of how Rosa’s Creative Way utilises the Brother CM350 ScanNCut 2 Home & Hobby Cutting Machine:

    The Brother CM350 ScanNCut1 versus The Brother CM350 ScanNCut2

    Remember that I had mentioned at the top, that this is the latest version (second) of the Brother CM350 ScanNCut 1, Home & Hobby Cutting Machine.

    This second version is said by many to have been an improvement to version 1. Let’s have a look at the comparison table below:

    Overall we can see, that, the Brother CM350 ScanNCut 2 Home & Hobby Cutting Machine, is a much improved version, than its first edition.

    However, we shall have a look at the pros and cons of the Brother CM350 ScanNCut 2 Home & Hobby Cutting Machine itself.

    What customers say may not match its performance so we shall have a look below at my researched information.

    Pros and Cons of Using The Brother CM350 ScanNCut 2 Home & Hobby Cutting Machine

    There are pros and cons to every product ever produced, which means that even something as versatile and in my opinion, very useful for my decorating cakes, can still be difficult to understand or use – especially if you are new to using cutters.

    This simplified table is information gathered from my internet research and so it is a general evaluation that will helpfully give you an overview of whether it is something you would get or not. Don’t worry even if you don’t want this, because at the end I will give you an option for a beginner’s alternative.

    So, here are the pros and cons, which I found in my research:

    Art-Thou-Cakes-Product-Review-For-Brother-CM350-ScanNCut-2-Home-&-Hobby-Cutting-Machine-Standard-Cut-Blade-Bundle

    Why I have Given The Brother CM350 ScanNCut 2 Home & Hobby Cutting Machine A High Rating

    I have given this product a 10/10 rating, only because I use it solely for my cake decorations and the pros and cons have no effect on the product outcome of my cakes as a whole.

    Yeah, I know, but that’s my personal rating anyway, however, if you choose to use this product for other mediums and purposes, then yes your rating could come out quite different.

    It is a decision that each customer will have to make on their own.

    What About A Craft Cutting Machine For Beginners

    Yes, I did promise to give you that option and the best alternative is to just purchase an easy to use basic bundle that will give you a lot to practice with before getting a much larger one like the professional Brother CM350 ScanNCut 2.

    The alternative that I suggest is this small bundle mentioned in my previous post about edible wafer paper.

    It is called the Bira Craft Cutter:

    This little bundle costs much less and will give you much joy.

    It is simple to use and there are no added tech stuff to worry about – and the good news is, it can still cut your edible wafer papers, and help you to still create your gorgeous cake decorations, within your budget.

    Conclusion

    In my humble opinion, you need to constantly up-skill when you run your own cake decorating home business, only because the competition is now the world of social media and internet information that customers have access to.

    Not only do you need to up-skill via online courses but also in obtaining the most efficient tools to use for your cake artistry. The product review I just gave is an optional tool that not only gives you fantastic cake decorating ideas, but is versatile in its use with other mediums and home crafts.

    The Brother CM350 ScanNCut 2 Home & Hobby Cutting Machine, will give you quality and productivity, when using edible wafer paper.

    I hope that my article today will encourage you to get yourself the best craft cutting tool on the market for your cake artistry home business.

    If you have any questions about this product or would like to add your own experience with it, then please leave me a comment in which I can respond.

    Enjoy,

    Cake Artistry Featured Image

     

    ilaisaane@artthoucakes.com

    Pop up Art In Your Cake Artistry Using Edible Wafer Paper





    Have you heard about edible wafer paper before now? Have you seen some amazing cake decorations that can be made using them?

    I have mentioned these in my previous product review for an edible printer. Edible wafer paper can be used to print images on, similar to fondant paper (this one is slightly thicker and made of icing sugar).

    Edible wafer paper, is a better alternative for those who do not wish to add more sugary decorations on top of their cakes. It is also an alternative for the people, who have specific diet restrictions.

    Today’s post is about, how you can create pop up art in your cake artistry using edible wafer paper.

    It is quite a simple form of decorating and can be something new, that you yourself, might like to try if you have never used it before.

    It will require a bit of patience to create certain decorations, but I promise the outcome will be worth it at the end, just like every other decorating technique that I have written about.

    Important Facts

    Edible wafer/paper is the single most affordable product used in the edible printing industry. It is used by just about every large baking company for cake decorations.

    I did look around for who first created it. However, after scrounging through the search engines, I was unable to come up with how edible wafer paper originated.

    I can only figure, that, maybe each country has its own history, and that would mean a lot of researching for me and a lot of reading for you, so we shall leave it at that.

    There are many versions of edible wafer paper – each created with various ingredients and each for different purposes.

    In Europe the edible wafer paper can be traced back to the Renaissance and served as a dessert. A luxury food that was only enjoyed by the Aristocracy and upper middle class of society. It was made from potato starch – you can almost say that it was the historical version of our modern day ‘potato chips’.

    Wafer paper also has significant religious symbolism for the celebration of the Eucharist (used as part of Catholic religious rituals). This paper is known as the ‘hostia’ or the ‘prosphorá’ (sacremental offering) – made from refined wheat flour, purified water, yeast and salt.


    In Asian countries they are made using rice flour, hence the name rice paper. These rice wafers are use as food wraps (spring rolls etc.), edible candies or candy wrappers (My grandmother bought these for me as a child and I still remember how they slowly melted on my tongue, leaving an after-taste of, sweet and salty soya).
    In my opinion, by the rate the world is going at the moment, using wafer paper for wrapping would be a great alternative to plastic – just saying.

    Home Made Recipe

    I found an easy online recipe created by Kathy Ceceri that consisted of 3 easy steps:

    Ingredients:

    • 1 tablespoon of Rice flour
    • 1 tablespoon of Potato starch
    • A pinch of Salt
    • 1 & half Tablespoons of Cold water

    Process:

    1. Whisk all the ingredients in a bowl, until it is a glue like consistency.**Note – you can add coloring and flavors as well to the mixture, during this stage.
    2. Stretch a piece of glad wrap (plastic food wrap) tightly across a dinner plate (must be taut) and pour the contents on to this, just as if you are pouring a pancake mixture into a pan, and spread it by tilting the plate in a circular motion (just like a pancake pan) – until the plastic circle is well covered.
    3. Place the whole plate into a microwave for 45 seconds on high (do not worry if it puffs due to the steam). Using Protective oven gloves, remove the plate and place it upside down on another plate or flat mat. This is will upend the cooked rice wafer and the glad wrap. Remove the plate and slowly peel the plastic wrap away. The rice paper will curl slightly as it cools. You can cut it into a square and store it in a zip lock bag for up to 2 days max.
    4. However, if you just cannot be bothered, like I feel at times, just go and buy a pack online or any cake store – they are really that cheap. They also come as wall paper prints or colored in different colors, which can be quite convenient for making a large order of cup cakes or large cakes.

      Best Tools To Use When Creating

      Before running off and creating your cake decorations, you may find that there are essential tools required, in order to do so.

      I have listed the most essential items:

      • Cake steamer (or what I use, our clothes steamer, yup just as good – if you can use it safely that is).
      • Large block of clean sponge (huh?? you ask, well you will soon see why)
      • Craft paper cutting machine (optional, you can draw by hand and cut your shapes out as well)
      • Edible Coloring pens or markers
      • Edible luster or pearl dust (these are better because dry paint dust does not have an impact on the shaped paper)
      • Edible Printer (optional, but it can actually make the process much faster)
      • Scissors if drawing shapes by hand
      • Edible oil paint or dry colors mixed with vegetable oil
      • A book of stencils or ideas
      • Gumpaste for gluing the wafer paper decorations on to the iced cakes

      Handling and Storage

      The best conditions for using or handling edible wafer paper is in a cool environment – any humidity or moist will curl the papers and make it hard to handle or shape – unless of course you use a cake steamer.

      Do not, I repeat, do not, ever place a cake decorated with edible wafer paper inside a fridge/chiller – the paper will dissolve into the icing. I suggest, instead, that you add the paper just before delivery.

      Remember that edible wafer paper is very light and one whiff of the outside breeze can blow them right off you cakes.

      Therefore, rather than put them all on, I would take a bowl of soft icing with me and add the decorations on after the cakes are stacked or placed at the reception/function venue.

      Otherwise, just use common sense.

      What Cake Decorations Can You Create?

      Again, what I share here is only but a few ideas and once again, you can pretty much create anything with your imagination.

      Here a few to whet your appetite for learning:

      • Rose petals
      • Any type of flower arrangement
      • Insects (butterflies are a favourite)
      • As mentioned before edible prints using an edible printer
      • Valentines notes
      • Edible Table Menus
      • Edible Guest Names
      • Edible bride & groom “thank you” table notes
      • Edible Lace prints or stenciled cut-outs
      • Printed Cartoon characters
      • Printed logos (for your own business or others)
      • Side decorations on cakes (i.e. ocean themes or sea creatures)
      • Edible leaves
      • Cupcake toppers
      • Hand written messages
      • Cut out circles for polka dots on your cake
      • Pop up dolls or houses
      • Pop up pages
      • Pop up books
      • Rolled Diplomas or parchments
      • Bow ties
      • Poetry or inspirational messages

      As you can see, and the list goes on and on and on…

      Why I Use A Craft Paper Cutting Machine

      The most important part of creating decorations with edible wafer paper, is to get the shapes. You can either choose, to use a scissors and draw your shapes, using cookie cutters and an edible pen, or you can use a craft paper cutter machine.

      I use a craft paper cutter machine, only, because I have tried cutting 100 individual petals with scissors, and my fingers were fat and sore afterwards, and my mood quickly changed from being happy, joy, joy to not so happy as well.

      The other reason why, I choose a craft paper cutter, is so, that all the shapes will be cut exactly the same with clear edges (unless of course, you want a realistic rustic look), and, I wouldn’t need to stay up till early hours ruining my petals with tears of frustration.

      These machines come in various sizes; larger ones for multiple and multi paper/material uses, or small individual shaped craft paper cutters. I actually prefer the much larger machines, and I suggest this if you frequently get large cake orders.

      They cost a little more, but the larger machines can be used for other crafting also; cake doilies, cake board decorations etc., and can use any paper or material using several die cutters to create many shapes.

      For those just starting out, there are cute little starter kits, that can be bought online or at any craft store.

      Some more modern ones, nowadays are computerized to be used with software, which makes them even more versatile. You can print a shape straight from a mobile device using the accompanying software products.

      The small individual shape cutters are, exactly, as they are named; only one shape per cutter and not versatile, in the sense that you can only cut one shape.

      Also, these individual ones can cost up to $60 USD each, whereas one large craft cutting machine costs between $150-300 USD – which is a big difference in value and product output. I know because I bought about several of these individual ones, before I found out that I could use the one large craft cutter for pretty much everything.

      Therefore, I encourage you to try to avoid my mistake if this is a cake decorating medium that you wish to specialise in.

      However, upon saying this, if you are only working on one type of flower decoration, and believe that you will never ever do any other edible paper wafer decoration, then by all means just buy the one, individualized craft paper cutter (Martha Stewart brands are great little starters).

      Rather than write out instructions, I decided to share a ‘how to’ video below, by pretty witty cakes, for those who are new to this technique. The instructions are clear and the videotography is good.

      Conclusion

      I hope that my article will give you, yet again another cake decorating option to use in your cake artistry business.

      As you have read, using edible wafer paper can be a great convenience in time and production processes, especially if you use an edible printer or craft cutting machine.

      You can make this at home and save money using the easy 3 step recipe, but personally, I suggest you only make this to roll your spring rolls in, rather than use it to decorate cakes with. I prefer the store bought ones because, it is affordable, comes in bulk and I can choose colors as well.

      If you need help or wish to give your own personal decorating experience using edible wafer paper, then please leave a comment below and I will endeavor to respond as soon as I can.

      Have a marvelous cake decorating day, until my next post,

      Cake Artistry Featured Image

       

      ilaisaane@artthoucakes.com

    Art-Thou-Cakes-Home-Made-Gum-Paste-Flowers

    Using Gumpaste Creations To Bring Cake Art To Life





    Introduction

    Gumpaste, also known as Sugarpaste, contains certain ingredients that make them useful for creating stiff like shapes or fiurines which also help to prolong their shelf life.

    Most cake toppers or sugar models sold at the cake shops are created with gumpaste/sugarpaste.

    It is another versatile medium for cake artistry and you can create just about anything that comes to your imagination, if you have great patience and a love for art.

    The great thing about this decorating form, is that it can be made apart from cakes and also sold on its own. People who would rather specialise in gumpaste modeling alone, can actually make money just from creating any type of edible cake topper – remember how I said that, in a previous post that I ended up making my own toppers because they were too expensive – well I actually was telling you the truth. A small cake topper, say for instance, a baby in a nappy, would cost $50 NZD and a wedding couple could cost between $120 – $200 NZD.

    However, you would need the correct tools, training and a passion for creativity. Even if you only possess creativity, that in itself is enough. If you don’t have any of these then, it will probably be more beneficial for you to just buy a topper from the shop.

    Unlike all the other decorating techniques where you can ‘wing it’ should we say, this is the one art medium and decorating technique that I would probably encourage you to do some course or do a lot of practice because, if you are going to sell something for more than $100 NZD, it is fair to say, that it needs to be worth what the customer is paying for it.

    Today the purpose of my article is to introduce gumpaste in all its glory and to give you another decorating medium to play with. Therefore, don’t go away yet, because, I am going to show you how to use gumpaste creations to bring cake art to life.

    Amazing Gumpaste Creations

    I love gumpaste because it is the best medium to hand paint on. You can literally create just about anything with it.

    Examples:

    • Baby bottles/teats
    • Babies
    • Baby Booties
    • Graduation regalia
    • Stuffed Toys or dolls
    • Wedding Couples
    • Sports paraphernalia
    • Holiday Themes
    • Nature (flowers, insects, trees, leaves, rainbows etc.)
    • Sketches (life or cartoons drawn on)
    • Paintings
    • Furniture
    • Vehicles
    • Marine life (fish, boats, rowing boats etc.)
    • Jewelry
    • Lace/filigree decorations
    • Painted Names or Numbers
    • Figurines or small statues (using molds)
    • Tools
    • Cartoons

    Homemade vs Store-Bought

    Home-made Gumpaste

    I create my own gumpaste using tylose. There are several ways to make your own and I only use two recipes. Both are advantageous in the fact that they can create bulk amounts when they are required for large cake orders, however they do need a good amount of preparation and processing time.

    Here is the first one.

    1. Making gumpaste from scratch (I only do so when I want a real stiff looking paste that will hold its shape forever).

    Ingredients:

    – 125 grams of egg whites (pasturised egg whites or an alternative)

    – 725 grams of Icing Sugar (powdered sugar)

    – 30 grams of Tylose powder (tylopur powder)

    – A few drops of Food colorant (optional)

    – Additional 100 grams of Icing sugar

    – 4 teaspoons of shortening (animal or vegetable)

    Tools and Utensils:

    Kitchen aide stand mixer

    – Scraper (stainless steel or FDA plastic)

    – Spatula (preferably silicon)

    Instructions:

    a) Mix egg whites first for 30 seconds (pause the stand mixer)

    b) Add the icing sugar and then mix it together for two minutes to a nice creamy consistency (should look like meringue with a soft peak or like a soft serve ice cream consistency)

    c) At this stage you can add color, if you want a whole colored batch, and mix for another two minutes.

    d) Turn the mixer on at a slow speed, and sprinkle the tylose powder in to the egg white and sugar mixture. Continue to mix for a few seconds until the consistency is thickened. Turn off the mixer.

    e) Sprinkle a little of the extra icing sugar on to a flat clean bench surface.

    f) Use the scraper to remove the mixture from the mixing bowl and the paddle onto the sprinkled icing sugar.

    g) Add the shortening on top of the mixture and start mixing using your hands to ensure that shortening is incorporated into the mixture (very similar to making home made fondant – which is quite fun!)

    i) Add more powdered sugar as you knead (just a little more) to create a soft and pliable paste that is not sticky. Test poke it – and it should have a spring back reaction a little like poking pizza dough.

    j) Place the paste into an FDA plastic zip lock bag or tightly lidded container, and chill in the refrigerator for 24 hours prior to its use. It should be taken out about an hour before it is actually used, so that it could be at room temperature and easily kneaded back to a soft consistency.

    k) You can divide your paste and add coloring (gel or liquid). Otherwise, you can add coloring as you need, whilst you create your models or pastry shapes.

    Okay, so I have just given you the long version. The next is the much-shortened version (the one that I use more often).

    2. The Quick Version (I use this version when I am in a hurry and know that toppers do not need to be kept as a permanent memoir).

    Ingredients:

    – 750 grams of ready-made fondant (home made or store-bought)

    – 25 grams of Tylose powder (tylopur powder)

    – Required Food colorants (optional)

    – 100 grams of Icing sugar

    – same amount as the above recipe – 4 teaspoons of shortening (animal or vegetable)

    Tools and Utensils:

    – Scraper (stainless steel or FDA plastic)

    – clean pair of hands

    Instructions:

    a) Knead the fondant until it is pliable and soft to work with – don’t shortcut this part even if it takes half an hour, because it will save you from popping any unwanted air bubbles later.

    b) Sprinkle a little tylose and add a dab of shortening while you need.

    c) At this stage you can add color, if you want a whole colored batch, and continue to knead.

    d) Once the tylose is fully incorporated into your fondant, you are ready to start using the paste for your decorations.

    I learned the quick version from Sugar By Donna – I have added her video below to show you easy it is.

    Okay now, we move on to store-bought option below.

    Store Bought Gumpaste

    So you have read everything thus far, and you think to yourself, ‘the above versions look too daunting and time-consuming, just give me the easiest way’ and tell me what to look for in the store bought gumpaste.

    Oakey dokey! The advantage of store bought gumpastes are,that, you have less preparation time and more fun playing time for creating.

    You can order ready-made ones online and at any large grocery store. The ‘Satin Ice‘ brand is my personal favourite and they also come in bulk 5 pound buckets, for more convenience of storage.

    You can start working with it straight away and no need to wait hours too. Just buy, follow the instructions and create.

    Things To Note When Using Home-made Gumpaste

    • When I work with gumpaste, I always have some vegetable or animal shortening on hand because it can be quite a sticky business. Shortening also makes your models look smoother and results in a nice shine.
    • Try not to use too much tylose – it will harden your paste quickly and make it difficult to work with.
    • Toppers and decorations need to be left for a few hours to harden (24 hours at least to be nice and firm).
    • Use a mixture of equal parts sugar and warm water to make a thick edible paste to stick your model parts together.
    • Unused gumpaste can be stored but be weary of the fact that the raw egg-white recipe should be used within two weeks at the most (only if kept well chilled).
    • Importantly – and some people have tried this, is DO NOT PUT gumpaste sheets through an edible printer – NO it doesn’t have the flexibility as using plain fondant; not to mention, damaging your edible printer in the process.

    Essential Tools To Use When Creating With Gumpaste

    I have listed the most essential tools to use when you are making your gumpaste cake decorations:

    • Foam pads – for shaping and thinning petals
    • Modeling Tools – this can be bought from cake stores or craft shops
    • Paint brushes
    • Small fondant rolling pins with attached measuring rings (this is where some of you will say, “aha, that’s what those little rolling pins are for!.” – yup that’s what I said myself)
    • Molds (home made or bought)
    • Petal and leaf cutters
    • Veiners
    • Cutting Mats
    • Colorful luster or dusts

    How I have Used Gumpaste

    For, my younger sister’s graduation-celebration cake, I added a few gumpaste frangipanis, as shown in the image below:

    Art-Thou-Cakes-Gum-Paste-Frangipanis

    For a customer’s graduation cake, I added a gumpaste made black cap and tassel as well as a rolled degree parchment:

    Art-Thou-Cakes-Gumpaste-Decorations-Graduation-Cake

    For another customer, who wanted a themed cake for her grandson, I used normal fondant covering and a gumpaste for the topper face of Thomas the tank engine (notice the shine?):

    Art-Thou-Cakes-Gumpaste-Thomas-The-Tank-Engine-Cake-Topper

    I have many more examples but I think these will give you a few examples for your own ideas to how to use gumpaste.

    Storing Your Gumpaste Creations

    Make sure you store your fondant and gum paste at room temperature within a cardboard box away from sunlight, heat and humidity. I have successfully stored gumpaste flowers/roses for more than 6 months.

    Another thing to keep in mind, is to keep them in a pest free environment (i.e., ants, mice, weevils and even moths).

    Some decorators will tell you to store in airtight closed containers, but I do not agree. Following this advice is probably the worst thing that you do. the gumpaste needs to breathe, which is why I use cardboard boxes with a lid, and just cover them with a sheet of baking paper (waxed paper).

    Conclusion

    Gumpaste is an amazing medium, and you can have lots of hours filled with fun ideas, while you make and create cake artistry. Your kids can be involved in this also, and you can make it a family affair.

    I have also listed a few ideas of what can be made, but you can add to it your own decorated items as well.

    I have given you two options for making your own gumpaste (the long and the short), and if you don’t want to you also have the choice to go and buy pre-made gumpaste at and do not have to worry about taking time to prepare a whole batch.
    Once you have decided on how you get your gumpaste, use my important tips and storage suggestions after you have created your decorations, so that they will last.

    I have added examples of my own creations, in the hope that you be inspired to take on this new decorating technique. If you think that you need a few more skills, to make your art more professional looking, there is nothing wrong with learning via an online course.

    I want to thank you for taking the time to read my article and wish you a wonderful day, and please leave me a comment, if you have your own ideas or questions for discussion. I am more than happy to respond.

    I look forward to giving you more cake artistry inspiration in my next post,

    Cake Artistry Featured Image

     

    ilaisaane@artthoucakes.com

    Candy Like Cake Love – Making Sugar Decorations





    Introduction

    Hi again my dear reader, today I am going to write about using sugar candy in cake artistry. This is a very dangerous topic for sweet tooth and, if you are, I give you permission to go no further.

    So, if you do, then beware of I did warn you, this is a very addictive content and a lot candy like cake love.

    Basic Tools Required For Sugar Cake Art

    • Wooden spoons or silicon (FDA) spatula
    • Candy Thermometer (they now have modern all-in-one, thermometer with stirrer, cool aye?)
    • Saucepan (preferably a heavy bottomed one)
    • Heavy duty gloves
    • Thick Baking Apron or Protective Bakers Clothing
    • Molds or items for shaping caramelized sugar on

    Important Safety Notes

    • Prepare the work area and make sure that no-one is using the stove or kitchen area (send all pets with kids/partners for an hour walk if you have to).
    • On saying the latter, make sure that someone is at home while you make any sugar creations, in case you have an accident and burn yourself. Hot sugar on any part of your body is not pleasant and can be very be serious.
    • Work area should be free of dust or pet fur and tie your hair back – any of these can stick to your sugar decorations and it will be a cross contamination.
    • Floor area should be clean and no spillage of any kind.
    • Always wear protective gear, for your body and hands.
      • CARAMELISED SUGAR CAN BE EXTREMELY DANDGEROUS – if it sticks on skin you can be scarred for life.

      Different sugar consistencies that can be checked without a thermometer:

      The Thread Stage 223-235* F (106 – 113 Degrees Celsius)

      Consistency – The syrup drips from the spoon to form a thin thread in the cup of water. Good for: Glacé and candied fruits

      The Soft ball Stage 235-245* F (113 – 118 Degrees Celsius)

      A ball is formed as soon as the syrup hits the cold water, but flattens into fudge, once it is removed.

      The Firm ball Stage 245-250* F (118 – 120 Degrees Celsius)

      A small stable ball is formed, but loses its shape once it is pressed.

      Hard ball Stage 250-266* F (120 – 130 Degrees Celsius)

      The sugar liquid holds its ball shape but remains quite sticky to the touch.

      Soft crack Stage 270-290* F (130 – 145 Degrees Celsius)

      The syrup forms into firm but pliable threads.

      Hard crack Stage 300-310* F (145 – 155 Degrees Celsius)

      The syrup cracks when snapped.

      Caramel Stage 320-350* F (155 – 175 Degrees Celsius)

      The sugar syrup turns golden at this stage. This is suitable for Pralines.

      Glass Sugar Makes Engaging Views

      What is Glass Sugar?

      So what is glass sugar? Do you remember the old German fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel? Well that story had a witch that owned an amazing house made of ginger bread and candy.

      I have added a cute book slide for those who are unfamiliar with the story.

      Hansel and Gretel story book Patricia s from Crelgo

      The first time I heard this story read to me as a child, I listened with fixated intent as my aunt described each small detail about that house. I was literally ‘salivating’ by the time the story ended – Now that I am older it seems like a truly tragic story but everything about that house still remains imprinted in my imagination. I believe that witch’s house had sugar glass windows.

        How is Sugar Glass Made?

        The following recipe is a basic one and I find is the easiest to follow, you may find other recipes online also and that is fine as well.

        Using:

          1 cup of corn syrup

          2 cups of water

          1/4 tsp of cream of tartar

          3 1/2 cups of sugar

        Utensils:

        • Heavy bottomed saucepan (or cast iron skillet – although this could be quite heavy to lift)
        • Thick gloves to protect yourself from the heat
        • Wooden Spoon
        • Sugar Thermometer (for candy making)

        Extra items:

        • Any pre-made mold that you want to use for molding shapes into (optional)

        Instructions:

        Place all ingredients in to the saucepan.

        Slowly heat the mixture to boiling point, by continuously stirring (if you heat it up too quickly, everything will caramelize and will not work (this process should be about 1 hour – so it is a game of patience and sore arm).

        Use the thermometer to check that it has boiling point has reached 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

        If you are using food color, then it needs to be stirred in just before the syrup is taken off the heat.

        TIP: For those who do not have a thermometer.

        Use a spoonful of candy mix and pour it in a cup of cold water. Take it out and if it breaks like glass, the mixture is ready. This would be at the ‘hard crack’ stage listed, in the list of the desired sugar consistency results.

        Construction:

        This is wearing protective gear and using the correct tools is very important. Pour the hot liquid into your mold/s or on to a flat tray lined with baking paper (waxed paper). Leave it to cool and you have your glass to use for decorating.

          Today sugar glass can be a great addition to a themed cake. The following are a few examples:

          • Snow peaks or mountains/Glaciers
          • Christmas decorations
          • A glass slipper for a Cinderella cake
          • Sugar diamante or sugar diamonds/ different colored jewelry
          • A twisted unicorn’s horn
          • glass windows for a ginger bread house (of course)
          • Eye glasses for an elderly birthday cake
          • Halloween eye balls
          • Small glass bells for a wedding or christening cake
          • Glass angels
          • Water themes – water gushing from a fountain/ waterfall/Lakes
          • Blue ocean/sea
          • fake glass bottle or beer cups
          • A baby dummy
          • Glass eyes for a teddy bear or soft toy topper
          • Stained glass
          • Colorful Sugar bowls (using balloons for the shape) – and filled with ice cream and whipped cream…mm

        As you can see from the above list there are so many things that one, can easily make using sugar glass.

        Spun Sugar – A Twisting Delight

        Spun sugar can be the crowning glory or the twisted ornament on top of a cake. Have you seen those tall profiterole cake towers and fine sugar webs surrounding it. Those web like sugar strands is what Cake decorators call ‘spun sugar’

        The recipe for spun sugar would be exactly the same as the one for glass sugar, however the temperature and end result will be different. The temperatures would need to be at the thread stage. You only need to use one or two forks to dip with and then as the syrup drips draw quickly in the air and quickly across a large bowl or an overturned metal spoon. This is repeated over and over to get fine wispy hair like sugar strands.

        My written description does not do justice to how lovely this technique really is. Therefore, I have added a video by Technique de Cuisine, so that you can understand what I just wrote.

        Okay I need to confess something before you watch this video, it is all in French, however, the technique this guy uses is so easy, so even without understanding what he is saying you can actually follow what he is showing – and anyway, who better than a French to show us the arts of decorating with sugar – so prendre plaisir! (enjoy! in English).

        Ideas For Using Spun Sugar:

        • Decorate cold desserts
        • Create bird’s nests for easter eggs
        • Cobwebs for Halloween cakes
        • The gold parts of jewelry
        • Long spun sugar strands can be used to hang off cake boards to create cascading effect in between tiered cakes – add a little light system in between and you have a gorgeous effect coming through the spun sugar strands.
        • Create spirals to make cultural designs such as ferns and island dancing hair pieces or skirts as cake toppers
        • Spun sugar bowls for ice cream or whipped cream (yum!)

        Colorful Sugar Shapes

        This is another great sugar decoration and does not need any cooking or burning. You would only need, some water, (white) sugar, food coloring, baking/waxed paper, a medium-sized container with a lid (preferably see-through/clear) and cookie cutters (any shape you want).

        Basically, you fill your plastic container with the sugar, add a few (about three) drops of your chosen food color, close the lid and then shake, yup, shake, shake and shake some more…this is starting to sound like an ad jingle.

        Well, the idea is to get the food coloring into all the sugar, without stirring (so that it colors evenly). The result you want is the sugar looking like fine sand that was colored.

        When you are all shaken up and the sugar is all colored through, you add a few teaspoons of water and shake it again to get the water mixed right through. The best way to check is taking some in hand and squashing a bunch to see if they hold their shape. If not, you may need to add a little bit more water and re-shake the container until the sugar is completely moist.

        Place it on a flat mat and use a rolling pin, to flatten it out (not too thinly) and then use your cookie cutters to cut them into the required shapes. At this point, the sugar can not be lifted (they will fall apart), therefoe use the baking paper to slide under them and move where they are not in the way.

        These shapes will need to be left in the open to dry naturally and the longer the better they will hold their shape.

        Once they are dried you use them, as colorful toppers straight on to butter cream or fondant.

        Unicorn Love had a guest post from Nellie Cakes, where Nellie, shows us how to make these gorgeous little sugar gems in greater detail, all I have provided is general information. I encourage you to check their post as it will inspire you to be more creative with sugar.

        Image from Unicorn Love

        Bend It Like Isomalt

        What The Heck Is Isomalt?

        Isomalt is an alternative sweetener to sugar. It has the same texture as sugar except that it doesn’t turn a yellowy color when it is at a high temperature. It makes beautifully clear candy decorations for your cakes, and will stand up to humidity better than caramelized sugar. Isomalt gives 2 calories per gram and does not create cavities in teeth like sugar or increase blood glucose or insulin levels (and all those who love sugar breathe a sigh of happiness).

        Isomalt was discovered in the 1960s and created out of sucrose (sugar) and is used in both nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals. Examples:

        • Throat Lozengers
        • Mixed Herbs
        • To sweeten other medication

        It is a product that is versatile and valuable for those who wish to make healthy or dietary choices, without missing out on the taste of sweetness.

        Where Can I get Isomalt?

        It can be bought in bulk from most large grocery stores. They are produced as crystals or nibs .

        How To Use Isomalt To Decorate Cakes

        Isomalt is one of the hardest mediums to make and handle in cake artistry. This process may need some professional training to assist with perfecting this art.

        Please note that in order to get a crystal clear result, you must use distilled water, because the minerals in tap water can cause a murky effect. The amount of distilled water should only be enough to make the isomalt damp (similar to the damp sand used to make sand castles on the beach).

        It placed in a pot and slowly melted by stirring gently and consistently to prevent any sticking to the sides.

        The utensils used should only be stainless steel and silicon for stirring and never use less than 1.4kgs of isomalt, at a time as you do not want hot spots during the heating process (caused when using only very small amounts), which produces a yellow color.

        To prevent crystallization whilst heating, simply place a foil tent on top of the pot to create internal steaming, The Isomalt needs to be cooked until it reaches 338 degrees Fahrenheit and then removed from the heat at 333 degrees Fahrenheit (this is where the candy thermometer comes in handy). The pot needs to be placed immediately in cool water to halt any further heating.

        When the isomalt is at about 310 degrees Fahrenheit – food coloring (powdered, gel or liquid) can be added and stirred into until the boiling stops.

        Note: Never store unused or used isomalt in the fridge or freezer – this will cause it to dissolve the produced sugar pieces.

        Isomalt should be stored in a tight container, because it absorbs moisture in its raw form. I suggest that you place a some silica gels packages inside to extend its shelf life.

        On the other hand cooked isomalt can only survive if kept from humidity or humid environments – it will go sticky (this is seen in hard candy or lolly pops that have wrappers missing – found stuck in fur or other stuff under kids beds).

        Once the isomalt syrup has cooled enough to handle, wear protective gloves and start pulling or molding your Isomalt to whatever shape you like to decorate your cake with.

        Here are a few examples of what you can use Isomalt for:

        • Icicles – for children’s Frozen cartoon theme
        • Star Fish
        • Roses
        • Balloons
        • Balls
        • Buttons
        • Glasses
        • Glass eyes
        • Edible gems
        • Blown Spheres
        • Musical instruments – or notes and time signatures
        • Cinderella glass slippers
        • Birthday numbers
        • Cultural Arts
        • Statues and sculptures
        • Glass Swans or doves
        • Glass bells
        • Letters

        Conclusion

        Whether it be with sugar or isomalt, your cake decorations will definitely stand out in any gathering. Sugar is always going to be popular no matter what age – and as long as you still have teeth to bite them with.

        Therefore, I hope that my article will give you an insight to how sugar glass, spun sugar, sugar shapes and isomalt can truly enhance and challenge you in your cake decorating.

        If you wish to add your own thoughts to what I have written, ask a question or would like to just share how you use any of the above in your own decorating, please leave a comment below.

        May you have a day full of ideas, and I will see you again soon.

        Cake Artistry Featured Image

         

        ilaisaane@artthoucakes.com

        Air-brush-Techiniques-Space-Cake

        How to Create Airbrushed Masterpieces in Cake Artistry





        Throughout my posts, I have alluded to the fact that I specialise more in cake painting than any other form of cake decorating.

        I love the way colors come together, and how painting can make fondant, appear to be ‘literally’ realistic. For example, when a treasure box cake needs to appear wooden, this is when, paint comes in handy.

        I have touched a little, on using paint brushes and that is, something that most artists use anyway. What I want to write about today is another painting technique called airbrushing. Airbrushing is very similar to using colored spray cans.

        Airbrushing has become a very fashionable trend, whether it be for makeup, nails, fake tans, or T-shirts. The younger generation has caught onto this like a flame and it is now also the latest fad for cake decorating.

        Airbrushing, takes away all the hassles, of buying different colored fondants. You can buy/make in bulk, batches of white colored fondant, for every decoration or cake color. Just cover the cakes in white fondant and swiftly airbrush them in another color, within, only a few seconds.

        If you haven’t seen the video that I had recently posted showing the beautiful life-like cake decorations by Emma Jayne, then go watch it, because her creations would have been airbrushed, so that she can obtain the right colors and textures.
        Some people may find, this cake decorating technique difficult, skill-wise, and will probably avoid, it altogether. These same people would probably prefer to print their cakes with edible printing rather than paint or airbrush.

        So what is airbrushing, you ask? and how will learning this technique help me in cake decorating?

        Let us not delay then in finding out. I am just as excited to tell you all about it, as you are to find out.

        What Is An Edible Airbrush?

        Okay, to explain this better and to give you an idea about this particular decorating technique, I will tell you how I first watched my husband, who is a registered mechanic and also steel fitter/welder, use an airbrush gun for our car.

        It was a small hand-held spray bottle (very similar to what hairdressers use) attached to some kind of compressor machinery. He placed some liquid paint into another small attachment and then slowly spray, lightly at first to get an overall first cover. He would then respray over and over again, to leave the car completely covered. This painting technique is called airbrushing.

        I am happy to tell you that, that is how we spend time together, I enjoy watching my husband at work – and he even helps me paint my cakes, when he is free as well (though with the edible paint lol). Happy wife, happy life (and all the women, say, “Yeah!)

        So now that you, have some kind of mental imagery, I can tell you that airbrushing a car, is more or less the same technique that is applied to a cake. It is fun and it is faster than hand painting.

        In cake decorating, the airbrush gun systems, which are used have several varieties – single action with bleeder, double action – non bleeder, and variable single action bleeder or non-bleeder. I am sure by now, you might run for the hills for all the confusion. However, I do promise that if you continue to read, you will view a video that I have provided for you to explain all this, by an expert in cake airbrushing. Therefore, hang in there and it will all be clear.

        The purpose of my post today, is to provide you, with another cake decoration skill, that will hopefully challenge you, in further developing, your creativity.

        Now, I will show you, how to create air-brushed masterpieces in cake artistry.

        Edible Airbrushing Kits

        Before you can do any airbrushing, you will need to obtain, borrow, or purchase a special kit used only for cakes ( and no, you cannot use the one that your husband/boyfriend/dad uses on the car! or steal your cousin’s).

        A good Edible Airbrush Kit Should Contain The Following:

        • At least one airbrush gun (I prefer dual/double action system for better control and it is non-bleeder). However, the single action is the most commonly used. If you get two guns with one of each in your kit, that would be even better!
        • The color loader – should be attached to the airbrush gun, or detachable as a small bottle at the bottom.
        • High Performance Air Compressor with air filter water trap with pressure regulator.
        • Air hose (at least more than two meters)
        • An airbrush holder
        • Airbrush cleaning system – this helps to stop the clogging of coloring inside the airbrush
        • Airbrush clean pot (with filters) – this is useful when you need to change colors in between spraying or cleaning the left over coloring out, at the end of its use.

        Other required items:

        • Proper airbrush food coloring (must not mistake this for the normal food coloring used with icings/baking). Choose either ethanol or water based airbrush food coloring.
        • A splatter wall or large box/ or an actual air spray booth, to protect other household areas from unwanted color sprays
        • Food stencils for decorating on fondant
        • Small knife, to easily remove and lift airbrushed fondant off a board, or dummies, to be placed onto the top of a cake
        • Plenty of paper towels

        Safety Notes:

        • Always maintain safety when using any motorised device and follow the user instructions in the manual.
        • Prevent cross contamination by using only the FDA approved or Kosher manufactured edible food coloring used only for airbrushing.
        • Clean the appliances with the correct chemicals.
        • Wear the correct protection gear, i.e. wear goggles if your eyes are sensitive to paint mist.

        Tips For A Beginner

        • If you need to buy yourself an airbrush gun, try to get a kit that gives the whole set (including a good sized compressor) and the dollar mark up at $150 or more. You can still use the smaller ones for less of that amount, if it is only for touch ups, or using short small sharp blasts, for not as many jobs. However, smaller ones tend to overheat faster and you have to give it time to cool in between uses. The bigger the compressor, the fewer interruptions to decorating.
        • If you can do so, try to get a double/dual action airbrush gun – it will assist with better control over the pressure required for specific actions. A single action airbrush system only has a pressure system for the paint, but not to control the air. The double will slow the air pressure or quicken it depending on how you want the food coloring to spray out.

        • I suggest before you even start on cakes, to practice, practice, practice – use medium-sized cookies or fondant covered cupcakes as your practice mediums.
        • If you use a cake board that will be slightly larger than your cake, cover it with fondant also then airbrush it with the same color for a much nicer presentation (it is all about the presentation folks!, you already taste it with your eyes, before it enters your mouth).
        • For first timers, I advise you use a stencil for your patterns/designs until you get comfortable enough to start free hand styling.
        • Spray thin layers, so that you give the colors time to dry quickly and avoid any smudges.
        • Have a rubbing alcohol nearby (I prefer vodka, as it can be utilized in other ways, when stressed – grin) in case you do make a small error (i.e, going over a line when you shouldn’t have).
        • Clean and store your airbrush kit appropriately, so that it ensures quality output and the longevity of your product.
        • Last but not least: take your time, have fun and turn off your phone (I mean it, it can be really distracting, when you are in the zone, leave it on silent, just in case your loved ones, really are dying and not just wanting the TV remote).
        • Always follow the instructions of the kit manual to ensure safety and quality of usage

          Common Issues When Using The Edible Airbrush

          Never be afraid to make mistakes, especially if you are a beginner, that is the reason why, I advised above, to first practice, on fondant covered cookies and cupcakes. Cake decorating courses, use cake foams or dummies. This is unnecessary, if you are a home cake business and I personally hate waste.

          Using a cake dummie, requires the use of fondant that won’t be eaten or used (unless of course you end up covering a cake with it). Anyway, cookies or cupcakes will be much appreciated by your nearest and dearest, and no-one wouldn’t care less about all your mistaken squiggles. As long, as they are yummy mistakes.

          Here a some common problems that you may encounter while using edible paint brush:

          • Airbrush, normally splatters sometimes, and leaves undesirable spots
          • Airbrushing the wrong side or part of your cake, or simply just going over a drawn outline of a specific design
          • The stencil was not held in place and the sprayed areas are not clearly defined
          • Accidental spillage of the coloring, which often happens when you do not hold the airbrush in the correct position
          • Tangling the hose while moving around
          • Color does not spray – coloring can cause a blockage, if the airbrush is not cleaned after its use, consistently
          • Your hand is not steady and your design gets ruined because you forgot to turn your phone off while working
          • You are in a rush and left everything to the last minute, which means your decoration is incomplete and you will kick yourself for doping so

          Fixing A Mistake

          If you had used the wrong colors or just want to start all over again, because, everything really does look that bad, then just take some paper towels, soak them in a bit of vodka (take some yourself if it really is, that bad) and then slowly wipe the areas needed to be fixed. If it starts to run, don’t worry keep wiping with vodka until all the colors are gone. Pick up the airbrush and start again. Just like that.

          Putting It All Together – in 4 Easy Steps

          Every edible airbrush or multi use airbrush kit, will come with an instruction booklet or pamphlet. The only time you will not get one of these is if you borrowed it, or bought it second hand at a garage sale/op shop.

          If you do not have any, just search on the internet, or follow my four simple steps in the instructions below:

          1. Remove the compressor, hose and airbrush systems from the box together with the manual.
          2. Attach the hose to the compressor (every airbrush kit is different so, you will need to follow the user manual in this part)ensure that this is screwed on tight.
          3. Remove the ring and hose connector from the airbrush system. Connect the compressor hose.
          4. Ensure that you clean pot is also ready to be used with its filter (this is optional and I have given a home made alternative below).
          5. Turn on the compressor and start creating magic.

          How to Clean The Edible Airbrush

          Okay I won’t go into much detail here because I just want you to watch a really straight forward video by DecoPac, that will show you how to do this. Enjoy!

          The Fun Part – Using The Edible Brush

          Before delving into what you can do with an edible airbrush, we need to look at how to handle one. There is a certain way to holding it, and how to control the pressure.

          After you have installed the kit, turn on the power, and point the airbrush gun, at the center of your pal, to check the airflow. If you can feel it, then it is ready to be used.

          The next step is, to add the food coloring. This is easily done by holding the airbrush system at a slight angle and adding 4-5 drops of the color into the color/paint holder of the airbrush system. 4-5 drops at a time per use is enough.

          Once you have added the color, use a piece of white paper to do a few doodles on to ensure that the airflow and color comes out right using the lever to check the dual system/single system functions well. Another good reason for this, is to also check, that the color comes out just as you want or not.

          The three important aspects of airbrushing are: speed, pressure and angle. All these three components are also the most important components, in just about every other decorating technique.

          Practice first, by spraying a few different colored lines, using different pressures as you press/pull the lever pull.

          After a few practices, you are now ready to paint your cake with airbrush. I suggest that you spray a few trials on paper every time, prior to your applying it directly on to your cakes, so that you can manage any pressure issues or blockage beforehand.

          Use your other hand to guide or add support as you spray. If you do not have a clean pot, then use a plastic bowl of sorts (i.e a large empty yogurt container, with a lid) and punch a small hole, big enough for the pen-end of your airbrush gun to go through in the center of the lid.

          Place a wad of paper towels inside and close the lid again. You will have a home-made alternative cleaning bowl, that you can spray into, when you want to change colors or empty your left over colors at the end.

          Finally, here is the video tutorial, that I promised at the beginning, and kudos to you for reading it up to this point. Hopefully you will be able to see how much more you can do with your cake artistry, using the airbrushing technique. You may even learn about what types of airbrushing kits are suitable for your own home business.

          How To Airbrush Cake Masterpieces

          The edible airbrush decorating technique, is very easy to use. Giving you examples of what amazing decorations can be created, will be too many for me to list. Here are only a few that I have listed below:

          • Ombre Cakes
          • Space/Galaxy Designs
          • Stenciled Shapes to form outlines/shadows- fairies, butterflies, people, wedding couples
          • Ocean colors
          • Sky or clouds
          • Nature – leaves, wallpaper of roses or flowers
          • Metallic Cakes – gold, silver, rose gold, bronze
          • Emotions – smiley faces, hearts
          • Seasonal themes – pumpkins with stenciled cut-outs
          • Tattoos on cakes
          • Rainbow hues
          • Floating Halloween figures

          Actually, there are thousands more ideas that can be added here and I would not have the room to place the many images that can be included as well.

          To show you, just how awesome edible airbrushing is and how easy it is to use. I want to show another one of my favourite videos, by Cakecraft Collection, using stencils and an edible airbrush (easy even for beginners).

          Conclusion

          If you want to challenge yourself, beyond just being ‘normal’ and quite ordinary in your cake decorating techniques, I suggest that you invest not only in, learning more from professionals, but that you purchase tools that will help you to create masterpieces in cake artistry. One of the best ways to do that is to use an edible airbrush kit.
          I hope that you are inspired by today’s post and please share your experience with airbrushing or even ask for help.

          Have a wonderful day,

          Cake Artistry Featured Image

           

          ilaisaane@artthoucakes.com

          Sweet Sensations in Decorating with Chocolate Art Thou Cakes

          My Sweet Sensations When Decorating With Chocolate





          In my previous post, I touched a little on how chocolate can be used as an edible lace technique. However, it is probably the most popular ingredient used in Cake Artistry, since its creation.

          It can be part of a cake ingredient, used for decoration, as part of a structure or topper, and of course, just as good, on its own.

          If you do not like chocolate, then you are a very rare human being indeed, and I am very sad that you have no idea what you are missing out on.

          You just need to go back and watch ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (the classic one, in which, Gene Wilder, starred as Willie Wonker- this will always be my favourite version), to understand what chocolate can do to those who love it.

          Oh my, who can forget, that famous scene, where Augustus fell into the chocolate lake and sucked up into the large pipes? A scene that has always stuck with me, and I couldn’t wait, in my child’s mind, to grow up and go see the factory.

          Well what do you know, I was so utterly disappointed when I grew up and found out that Willie Wonker and the Chocolate Factory was all made up. It doesn’t matter that a company has made chocolates branded with ‘Wonkers’, in my mind it is a poor way of trying to make up for all the heartbroken reality of false hopes. What a let down.

          This is why when I decorate with chocolate, I try my best to re-live the wonderful ‘Chocolate Factory’ experience all over again, and that is no fake.

          Therefore, my post today, will portray how I create the most amazing, sweet sensations when decorating with chocolate, which I hope will help you further explore and enjoy in your own cake decorations.

          No Special Skills Required

          Like with all the other decorating/icing techniques, there are no special skills required when using chocolate in cake artistry. I believe that every cake decorator/artist has one or two techniques or medium which they specialise in. Chocolate is just another. 

          As stated before, I specialise in painting, but use every form of decorating to enhance the appearance of my cakes and using the analogy of music, “to be in harmony with the musical tune that my clients play”.

          However, if you would like to specialise in chocolate itself or any other decorating medium/technique, but do not have the essential skills to do so, then I suggest you register for an online course.

          Useful Tips – Before Decorating With Chocolate

          Utensils

          Tools and utensils should be clean and without any oily residues, which may have an impact on how your chocolate icing/frosting turns out. Generally speaking, the following utensils should be readily available for use:

          • Double Boiler – Stainless steel or glass bowl to be placed in a saucepan with simmering water (I prefer stainless steel).
          • Heavy-ended Saucepan – I suggest this type, as it will not over boil water, the lighter ended saucepans do not heat evenly.
          • Wooden Spoons – for stirring, I find wooden best, as it will not conduct too much heat causing separations.
          • Silicon or Wooden Spatula – for placing melted chocolate into piping bags or spreading.
          • Stainless steel icing spreader or large flat knife.
          • Glad wrap/plastic film.
          • Cake turntable.
          • Cake slice baking sheets/trays – these are used together with an upturned bowl for ganache pouring. They are also used for chilling the chocolate decor in the fridge.
          • Temperature gauge (optional).
          • Food scale (electronic is the best for accuracy).
          • Chocolate Pattern Mats or transfer sheets – if you are free styling your designs you would not need these. 
            Sweet-sensations-in-decorating-with-chocolate
          • Acetate plastic sheets for piping designs onto and from which chocolate can be easily separated and removed
          • Piping bags – I prefer to roll baking/parchment/wax paper rather than actual icing bags, so that I can just biff them in the bin – paper can be turned into piping cornets
          • Piping tips – I do not use these – which is why I prefer using paper as piping bags
          • Small paper scissors to snip piping paper to required tip size
          • Microwaveable bowls
          • Kitchenaid or similar brand stand mixer
          • Food processor (optional)

          Other Required Ingredients

          • Eggs or an alternative ingredient.
          • Butter – unsalted is best, for a fresher taste and will not affect the flavor, however it may not last outside of a fridge whereas salted butter can, but adds a slight salty taste (I do not find much difference, although some recipes are strict on which type to use). You can look at alternatives to this if you are dairy intolerant, however, the rest of the ingredients needs to be consistent also, if you do use an alternative, so that you ensure the right flavors come through.
          • Full Milk/heavy cream (aka full-fat in NZ) – again look at the alternatives if you have food intolerance.
          • Gelatin paper or powder or tylose powder (if gluten intolerant).
          • Vegetable fat/oils and Animal fat – can be used instead of butter in some recipes.
          • Flavorings – Vanilla Essence (pure is the best for quality), caramel, rum, brandy, almond, peanut butter, hazelnut and mint are among some of my most loved favourites.
          • Confectioners sugar/icing sugar/pound sugar.
          • Left over chocolate cake from crumbing (well frozen and less than two weeks old) for using in structuring toppers or structures.
          • Cacao or Cocoa Powder – sometimes this gives an extra chocolate boost (100% pure is my preference – for a richer flavor).
          • Ground coffee – real rich coffee is the best.
            • Chocolate liquor – which is also known as, unsweetened baking chocolate, (be aware: this is not chocolate liqueur, which is a very different product and should never be substituted for the other). Chocolate liquor, has no alcohol. It is made from grinding the nib, or meat, of the cocoa bean and is a thick, gritty, dark brown paste that liquefies when heated. Chocolate liquor incorporates half mixtures of cocoa butter and cocoa solids.

            Process

            • Ensure that the working area is always clean and free of dust.
            • Ensure that you weigh ingredients, unless of course, you are ‘near 99%’ accurate, in eye balling measurements, after many years of experience.
            • If separation happens (hey, this happens to the best of us), just microwave for 30 seconds on high, and mix again for the right consistency.
            • Make sure that ingredients are at room temperature before they are used – this will give the best results in mixture consistency.

            Handling and Storage

            Always make a good habit of applying, the food/health and safety rules for everyone’s assurance.

            • Store chocolate frosted cakes in the fridge with a clean film or plastic wrap, to curb any cross-contamination or flavor influences from other neighboring foods in the same compartment, i.e. pet food etc., (I use a separate chiller/fridge so this, is not such an issue for me)
            • Freeze any chocolate that has eggs or any other fresh ingredient – this can be stored for up to 3 months and reused
            • Alternative natural/raw ingredients can be stored for up to 1 month, before they can no longer be used (this is because the taste of fresh ingredients diminish quickly and consistency changes). However, anything raw don’t last because they can be really, really delicious!

            The Best Chocolate To Use For Cake Artistry

            Okay, I learned the hard way, when I first started using chocolate for decorating, about which chocolates types are the best to use. Being a person that always puts flavor at the forefront of my creations, I mistakenly used a normal Cadbury’s milk chocolate once (a NZ favourite when it comes to chocolates) on a very hot day, to my shock and horror! the decorations started to melt, OH NO!

            Yeah, this experience taught me that there are quintessential qualities, in various chocolates that need to be considered, when using them for cake decorating.

            So what is the chocolate that I actually consider the best to use? Well, its a good question that cannot be satisfied with only one answer. 

            In fact, I have listed a few, equally excellent brands that have individual flavor and character. I suggest that you never use cheap brands, because some use not so good oils/fats, that give a ‘plastic’ consistency and a yuck taste. Believe me, I have tried and will never go back there.

            The darker or higher the percentage of chocolate, the richer the flavor in cakes and in decorating.

            The other things I look for, when choosing the right chocolates to use, is the way, they were produced and whether it was ethical/moral. I am a strong advocate of conservation and animal rights – so how, where, what and who was harmed in its, manufacturing process, are my constant measures for quality. The chocolate brand should be fair trade.

            However, despite my personal standard, do not let that discourage you from choosing any chocolate brand that you want. 

            All I have added here, is a bit of education for each person to make an informed decision of their own, and also depending on your budget for cakes, you can still use non-ethical brands. 

            If you do want to use ethically produced chocolates/cocoa, the best way to check, is to research for yourself in Google by typing exactly the following text: “Fairtrade'”+”Cooking Chocolates” and it will come up with a good list.

            Lindt-cooking-chocolate-100%-fairtrade-in-Art-Thou-Cakes-Sweet-Sensations

            As I had previously stated, here is my list of true and tried top chocolate brands to use for cake artistry:

            • Lindt – Rich and beautiful flavor (also produce gluten free) – Fairtrade certified – aims to be 100% ethical with trace ability
            • Ghirardelli – Fairtrade certified – Company is active in fair trade and helps to eliminate child labour
            • Sunspire – Organic – Fairtrade Cacao Chocolate Chunks
            • Wild Foods – 100 % Organic Raw Cocoa Powder – Fairtrade certified
            • Bennetto Natural Foods Co – Fairtrade Certified

            These are only, but a few that I have used, but you might find many more in the country that you are from. I find that, farmers markets are great places to find organic and ethically produced food products, which have been manufactured by small local producers, not known in the global market.

            Chocolate Frosting

            Okay, we have finally reached the different types of chocolate icing techniques and although,they are not technically difficult to master, are sometimes confused by what they actually mean.

            Chocolate frosting is the most generally used decoration of all icings, because it is quick and tastes good (the proof is in what the kids eat off a cake). It is often the ‘go to’ for a child’s birthday party, when you need to whip up a convenient icing.

            A basic chocolate frosting recipe includes:

            • Butter
            • Icing Sugar (pound/confectioner’s sugar)
            • Milk or Water
            • Vanilla Essence
            • Cocoa powder

            As you see, these are the usual products that are found in many household kitchens and explain why a chocolate frosting is so convenient.

            I use Lauren’s latest basic recipe it is easy to follow and has lovely pictures to show her process. This same frosting is great for cupcakes also – and you can add a sprinkle, of colorful decorations to glam them up, and you are done.

            What is chocolate Ganache?

            According to EVS, Global translations, the definition of ganache might have been a contrived 19th Century culinary folklore, but it effectively goes something, like this: Ganache is the French word for “fool” and only appeared for the first time, as a type of confection in the 1922 issue, of the world’s first illustrated weekly news magazine.

            Interestingly by contrast, a blogger in Quora, says that its meaning is “lower jaw”. In a humorous twist, a commentor known only as ‘french baker’ quickly responded by refuting this definition, and wrote that the true legend came about, because a young cooking student had poured hot cream into chocolate bits by mistake. His angry Chef called him a ganache (meaning ‘moron’ in French). However, this mistake resulted in a lovely outcome, so the name ‘ganache’ stuck. 

            I actually believe that ‘french baker’ is correct and backs up the first definition of ‘fool’.

            There are two different decorating approaches to using ganache as an icing. I have described them below under their own headings.

            Ganache Frosting Technique

            As we just learned, ganache is made by mixing half-and-half of both, heavy cream and melted chocolate together, to create a luxurious icing spread or chocolate drip. This is easily applied by hand using a spatula and/or piping bag.

            I like how this icing results in a thick yummy layer of chocolaty smoothness in your mouth, the taste is heaven! The other thing I like about it, is that it turns out very thick, and the cake remains very moist, even after three days, if it is not refrigerated.

            Now, my one issue with this chocolate technique, is that you need to work very quickly when spreading the icing, or it can become quite sticky and you end up tearing some cake. To resolve this, I always have a tea towel and hot boiled water in a large bowl handy, so that I stick my spreader or knife into it and wipe with the tea towel/paper towel, while I smooth the ganache consistently over the whole cake.

            For this icing, I follow a recipe used by Rose Levy Beranbaum Signature Series these are quite old-fashioned videos, but I like how she explains everything in detail as she decorates. Also, I love how she makes processes so easy. Watch this video as she creates a ganache frosting in a few seconds with a food processor. Very educational!

            Mirror Glaze Ganache Technique

            Now Mirror Glazing is in a league of its own. It has become a new decorating sensation. Mirror glaze, has a mirror or glass like look and is not only limited to just chocolate alone. It can be created in any, array of flavours and colors. Mirror Glaze can incorporate fruit and makes a perfect top layer for cheese or mousse cakes.

            There are many recipes and each varied, according to how its used or who created it. My favourite chocolate mirror glaze recipe is from Road to Pastry blog.

            Although I like YouTube videos, I am still quite old-fashioned in many ways and choosing to follow written recipes is one of them. That’s because I can print, or scroll the screen up and down without the frustration of replaying or pausing.

            If I do watch a video, I still write everything down, rather than just follow it by view.

            Chocolate Garnishes

            The beauty of adding chocolate garnishes, is that they can enhance beauty for any cake. I find this, especially true, when matching them with a plain, pastel colored buttercreamed cake.

            What you can make into chocolate garnish, is far-reaching and I can only give you a few examples to get you excited:

            • Chocolate lettering/messages (block or script – written/traced)
            • Outline drawings of bows, butterflies, flowers etc.,
            • Chocolate swirls
            • Chocolate Patterns
            • Chocolate easter eggs, Christmas trees
            • Lace/Filigree patterns
            • Chocolate cages/baskets/nests

            Most of these garnishes are easy to make, just melt the chocolate and place in a paper piping back, cut the tip off and start drawing outlines – even the mistakes make extraordinary and unique designs. Once they have hardened you stick them onto your cakes, desserts and even ice creams 🙂

            A small tip: If you do not know how to follow your own creative design then just print some off Google and place it under a waxed/baking paper and use the print to trace your chocolate lines (and no-one will be the wiser).

            Tempered Chocolate

            Tempered chocolate, is melted gently over a low heat, then cooling the chocolate while it is being stirred. This puts it into temper. It leaves a smooth and flawless appearance, once it is cooled to the right temperature. When you touch it, it should feel firm but gives a nice ‘snap’ when broken off. When eaten, it should melt slowly to leave a long-lasting end flavor.

            What is Tempered Chocolate Used For?

            It is useful to create toppers with and is very good for making your own home-made chocolate (lovely gift ideas).

            Another great idea, for tempered chocolate is when making ice-cream birthday cakes – cover it with tempered chocolate and it is like having a nice ‘topsy’ topper.

            The Science Behind Tempered Chocolate

            The chocolate needs to cool enough to the point of hardening. The process can take long if not done properly. Tempering, needs to be repeated until it reaches that point.

            The melting temperature must never reach above a certain level, for each type of chocolate or the stability of the cocoa butter crystals will begin to melt and you lose the temper:

            • 92°F, for the dark chocolate
            • 88°F for the milk and white chocolate

            Quick Tip

            • Remove the bowl from the hot water (double boiler) and keep stirring to disperse the heat evenly.
            • Test the chocolate on your skin to make sure it is still cool.
            • Use chocolate bits or buttons for quicker melting.
            • Avoid using short cuts, such as using the microwave or freezer/chiller, the end results may not be satisfactory
            • If you are going to do something then you need to do it well

            Toppers & Poppers

            Tempered chocolate can also be created into small toppers using molds or free styled by-hand:

            • Baby shower ornaments (shoes, baby bottles, babies etc)
            • Twigs and nature themed items
            • Wedding themed figurines
            • Sports themes (balls, tennis pats, bicycles etc)
            • Cheeky adult or romantic themes(I will not go into detail as already some of you, have your imagination already running wild with vivid imagery)
            • Political Themes (some can make really good statements, when you don’t wish to say it verbally)

            Poppers are small cake/chocolate balls stuck on to lollipop sticks or short wooden/bamboo skewers. They are very popular with the kids and at any large gathering, where you need to feed extra people or when your one cake is not enough to feed a large crowd. 

            Another great use for poppers, is when you need a quick ‘go-to’ recipe for the children’s school fundraisers – make a hundred and sell them at $2 each. That will make the kids happy, the school happy and yourself proud.

            Poppers are fun and are easy to make, by using popper moulds. Pour them in and stick the small sticks through the holes and decorate with some 100s & 1000s or little clown/comic heroes”s faces, place them into the chiller and voilà!

            Large Structual Art

            I have always been interested in the structural techniques involved, with using chocolate. Although I have never personally created any large chocolate structures as part of my cake artistry (only for the fact, that there has never been any reason to do so, considering the effort and costs involved, and that it will be devoured, within an hour of its creation), I aspire one day to achieve it. Well maybe not in the scale that some people have done, as you will see in my list below.

            I am thinking about ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ again here (Big Grin).

            Did you know that the world’s largest chocolate Easter Bunny in the Guinness book of Records was built out of 3014kg of brick chocolates? The company who sculpted it, Craft Corner built it on behalf of Duracell.

            I have listed some examples of the most fabulous and world record-breaking chocolate structures, that I have ever seen:

            Okay, these could be a little too big, but at least you now, understand how using chocolate has no limits to what can be created, whether small or large.

            Conclusion

            From simple poppers to enormous structures, we can see how, chocolate is not only delicious to eat, but very versatile in its use within cake artistry.

            I encourage you to use ethical chocolate, where possible to help make this world a better place.

            I hope you enjoyed my post and that you are inspired to try a few, of my sweet sensations when decorating with chocolate.

            If you do so, please feel free to come back and share. Should you have your own tips or techniques or just want to leave a question, I am more than happy to answer any comments.

            Thank you for visiting,

            Cake Artistry Featured Image

             

            ilaisaane@artthoucakes.com

            Sensational-Lace-Frills-Make-Beautiful-Cake-Artistry-Lace-Mat-and-Sugar-Paste-Technique

            Intricate Lace Frills Make Beautiful Cake Artistry





            We all know what lace is. It is a delicate fabric decorated in intricate web-like patterns using yarn or thread made both by machine or hand.

            Among my other creative hobbies, I also do sewing, knitting, crocheting and handcrafts (which I was taught by my grandmother Ana from a very young age – designing clothes for my ‘too’ many barbie dolls.

            Once upon my many lives, I had taken a fashion design course in which, I watched in awe, how lace was made by hand. Although the outcome was beautiful, I had no desire to follow that skill; watching the woman at work exhausted my patience.

            In the past, lace used to be made from linen, silk, gold, or silver threads. Now cotton thread, linen and silk threads are used. Manufactured lace is mass-produced from synthetic materials for what we see on clothing nowadays.

            Okay, so why am I talking about lace again? Oh yeah, that’s right…you can now use lace in your cake decorations and eat them too.

            Adding lace to a cake, is like having Cinderella’s rags being transformed into a spectacular ball gown, where you and I play fairy god mother.

            Therefore, my post today will be about using intricate lace frills to make beautiful Cake Artistry.

            What is Edible Cake lace?

            Cake lace, is another elegant form, of cake artistry, that can make the difference between a ‘great’ cake and a ‘wow’ cake.

            There are several edible lace techniques, which I have listed below under their own headings. All techniques are similar yet unique in the way they improve the appearance of a cake for the beholder.

            Items required

            • Small flat angled artist’s paint brush
            • Royal Icing or Fondant paste (made with the addition of a little water)
            • A small piping bag
            • Patterned textured mats or rolls
            • Lace Molds
            • Rolling pin
            • Lace Mat/s
            • Tracing paper – if free styling your own lace patterned design
            • Sugar paste or gum paste
            • Tylose powder – to create pliable yet slightly hardened molded fondant and sugar lace paste
            • A little bowl of animal/vegetable fat
            • Pearl luster dust to enhance the look of the dimensional effects of the patterns
            • Any fabric or stencil lace pattern can be copied/traced
            • Baking paper (waxed parchment paper)
            • Scissors
            • Edible spray paint

            To Note

            • I suggest practicing on a piece of rolled out fondant until you can master the technique first before using it on an actual cake.
            • Use your fore finger and thumb to remove excess icing build-up on the brush, as you make the strokes for the brush embroidery technique.
            • Ensure hands are always clean and nails trimmed without any additional nail embellishments.

            Brush Embroidery – Adds a Gorgeous Adornment

            This technique is one that I would save only for very special occasions that require finesse and old-fashioned elegance. It requires a little more time and patience, along with a steady hand. Despite the work, it is a very simple technique that results in a gorgeously adorned cake, fit for a wedding or christening.

            Of all the lace techniques, I prefer the brush embroidery, because it doesn’t entail rolling out more fondant or sticking extra sugar stuff onto already sweet fondant/royal icing.

            You can follow a traced pattern from any kind of fabric lace traced straight on to your cake (the cake must be first covered of course, with either fondant or royal icing) and then, the lines are piped with royal icing or liquefied fondant. The paint brush is used to created brush strokes inside the drawn shapes, as seen in the image below.
            Sensational-Lace-Frills-Make-Beautiful-Cake-Artistry-Brush-Embroidery

            Appliqué – A Nostalgic Imprint Of The Past

            Now, this technique, leaves a nostalgic imprint of the past, when blankets and clothes were hand sewn with engaging handiwork.

            Nowadays, just about everything is done by technology and is not as special anymore as when things used to be admired for a person’s handiwork stills.
            Fabric appliqué was the application of smaller pieces of fabric, hand-sewn onto a large fabric to give a 2D effect. When applied to cakes, the technique is still the same. Lace patterns can be pasted on to the covered cake.

            However, the exquisite patterns are either rolled onto the fondant before it covers the cake, or push cutters to make each small fondant piece before being pasted one by one onto the cake.

            Using a mold also, saves a little more time and is the best item to use when you need to define the smaller details of a laced pattern. In a previous post, I wrote how I make my own home made molds, which will save

            money. However, these molds can also be bought for convenience.

            Embossing – Truly Magnificent

            Fondant can be embossed with a lace pattern using textured mats or textured rolls. The textures are imprinted or impressed onto the rolled fondant before being placed onto the cake. The cake is a magnificent piece of art, when it is finished, especially when a plain colored luster dust is brushed on the patterns to give them a lovely sheen.
            Sensational-Lace-Frills-Make-Beautiful-Cake-Artistry-Embossing-Technique

            An issue, I find with this technique is the handling of the fondant, as one needs to be very careful, when covering the cake. If the fondant is pressed too hard when rubbing it down, you may accidentally remove the imprinted pattern.

            A texture mat and roll are not the only items that can be used for embossed decorations. You can use lace molds, small fondant cutters/embossers and plastic stencils as well.

            Lace Mats and Paste – Ingenious Modernity

            Edible lace made from spreading gum paste, fondant paste, or gelatin paste on to an imprinted silicon lace mat, specifically designed for this purpose, has become the latest Cake Artistry craze. It is the simplest technique and the easiest to use with minimal mistakes or damage to the cake.

            You can make your own lace or buy it from a store. The same is with the mat, you can buy it or create your own using home made silicon molds.

            You can find many versions for home made edible lace but my favourite is Veena Azmanov’s egg less and vegetarian home made lace recipe. Unlike other recipes I have used in the past, this one is may favourite, not only because it does not need many ingredients, but also, for the fact that I do not have to bake it (although it gives the option, to quicken the drying process), as you would with the gum paste recipe. It can be left overnight.

            I also find that this recipe results in a softer and pliable lace, very similar to fabric, which makes it easier to handle and apply.

            The lace paste is spread on to the lace mat with a spatula and left for a few hours. Once it is dry, it is removed by easily peeling the lace off the mat and pasted, using gum paste, sugar paste or buttercream straight on to the cake.

            Chocolate Lace Wraps- Decadently Decorated

            Chocolate lace wraps look like crocheted lace and actually looks beautiful when you have dark chocolate against a pastel colored cake covering.

            For this technique, I suggest using buttercreamed cakes rather than fondant, only because the chocolate needs to stick to a moist icing. I have never tried it on Fondant or Royal Icing, so you can try it yourself and see, however, for me the flavours also need to be accounted for, and chocolate on fondant/royal icing are for my husband a Holden part stuck onto a Mercedes – it just does not’t make sense.

            This technique requires the greatest patience and an even steadier hand.

            Time and temperature also factor into the process. The chocolate ganache needs to be quite liquid to work with, and you need to work fast enough so that the chocolate lace does not crack, when it is placed around the cake.

            Using baking paper or waxed parchment paper made piping bags, filled with chocolate ganache. Intricate symmetrical lace designs are piped onto a longer piece of baking paper (the length about the full length of the circumference of the cake).

            The lace design is first drawn onto the length of baking paper and each point connects, similar to a spider web, so that when the chocolate is later separated, it can be removed as a whole piece and wrapped around the cake.

            Sensational Lace Frills make beautiful cake artistry - Chocolate Lace Wrapping

            Spray Painted Lace – Classy Graffiti

            This technique uses edible sprays (I like to use Wilton’s color mists) and a stencil (I just buy a nice fabric lace). I suggest this technique be used on royal icing or fondant covered cakes, unless of course, you use a buttercream recipe that crusts well, if it doesn’t, your colors will bleed (as in bleeding lipstick) and the details will be a runny mess.

            Spray painting is a really simple process: the lace or stencil is held in place with a few pins, ensuring that the stencil does not move and you spray quickly and evenly over it. Leave the paint to dry for a few minutes before removing the stencil or piece of lace, to reveal the beautiful pattern underneath.

            The end result should be a clear pattern design of what you had placed on the cake (if it was pinned well).

            This could be a fun technique to play with, especially if you use metallic colors, to have a shiny sensation.

            Conclusion

            Each edible lace technique has its own unique look and process, and can turn a plain looking cake into a glorious display of art.

            I have only given a general overview of edible lace and the different techniques used. If you would like to learn the skills and excel in using lace, then finding an appropriate cake baking course is a must.

            If you wish to obtain skills to start your own business, then I suggest an online course which I personally recommend, who lays out everything that you need to start; Cakers School. Their courses are concise and their business tips are excellent.

            I hope that my post today will give you another perspective of cake artistry and that now see, how lace can be a simple yet elegant addition to your cake designs.

            I encourage you to vary your cake decorating skills by trying a few of these lace techniques. If you have your own lace technique, and it is not included here, you can comment below and share it too.

            May you have a wonderful day,

            Cake Artistry Featured Image

             

            ilaisaane@artthoucakes.com

            Art Thou Cakes Alternative Ingredients in Cake Artistry for Food Intolerance

            Alternative Ingredients in Cake Artistry for Food Intolerance






            My post today was inspired by a comment made by one of my readers, Emily, from my post about royal icing being the queen. She had asked bout using alternative ingredients in place of egg whites. I promised to write a post specifically for this and about using alternative ingredients in Cake Artistry for food intolerance.

            I used to work at a natural medicine college, where I learned about the holistic make up of my health.

            From as young I as I remembered, eating dairy or gluten always left me with side effects. Dairy made me sprint to the bathroom, and gluten caused me to bloat so much; my stomach hurt. I found that I was losing energy, not sleeping well, and often blamed it on work related stress etc.

            Fortunately for me, all my colleagues were practicing naturopaths, who advised me to get a hair test in our clinic. I took their advice and what I suspected all along was confirmed. I am both, dairy and gluten intolerant, as well with egg, banana and a few other foods.

            Once I understood and accepted this knowledge, I tried my best to refrain from any gluten or dairy products (okay, to be honest, I actually really struggle with this – I love cheese and hot white bread).

            I have used a great recipe e book ‘Grave Bakery Gluten Free Cook Book‘ – this is a great starter for desserts that do not to include: gluten, grains, peanuts, refined sugars and soy.

            I also, researched alternatives to what foods I could tolerate and ones that I couldn’t. I also gained a lot of knowledge about the range of alternative ingredients that I can utilise in cake artistry, to help those who have food intolerance, like myself.

            Egg White

            Even if you are not intolerant to eggs, you may still hate that ‘eggy’ taste in meringues or other light cakes. I dislike sponge cake and pavlovas, only because of the strong egg flavour, I only include sponge cake in my Christmas trifles and pavlovas are always smothered in fresh cream, with layers of fruit.

            Aquafaba

            A lovely alternative to egg, is aquafaba,(further information can be found on the Vegan Society’s page).This is the name given to legume brine.

            It is by far the cheapest and most perfect replacement for egg white. The brine can be drained straight from the can of legumes or chick peas. The other way to get this liquid is from slowly cooking dried beans in water for a few hours, until the brine becomes like the egg white consistency (of course it needs to be cooled first).

            Other acceptable aquafaba is water from packaged tofu. The measurement of aquafaba per egg is 3 tablespoons (although according to the Vegan Society, this is not a hard-fast rule).

            Aquafaba can be whisked and layered into sponge cakes, meringues and pavlovas. This liquid is also just as delicious and effective in creating meringue type buttercream icings.

            Aquafaba can also be an alternative to using meringue powder (which is dried egg white powder) in royal icing.

            Flour

            Okay, I know that this ingredient is really for baking, rather than for cake artistry/decorating, however the information is still useful for those who need an alternative for gluten/wheat.

            You can purchase gluten free flour from the stores, my favourite is the Namaste brands. Remember that food intolerance vary in levels to how much a person can handle, and for those who are high (such as celiac disorder), it would be better to make your own mix of flour.

            12 alternative flours:

            1. Chickpea flour
            2. Quinoa flour
            3. Buckwheat flour
            4. Sorghum flour
            5. Almond flour
            6. Rice flour
            7. Tapioca (also known as Starch flour or arrowroot flour)
            8. Potato Starch
            9. Xanthum gum (guar gum) – this is also used together with fondant in creating toppers or pasting icing decorations
            10. Coconut flour
            11. Polentia flour
            12. Chestnut flour

            Each flour type has their own specific taste and texture and I suggest that you research recipes, that are suitable to what you are creating/baking. Some have a stronger smell than others and could easily be disguised with natural flavourings.

            Dairy

            Here are 5 alternatives that can replace dairy products:

            1 – Milk

          • Cashew Milk
          • Rice Milk
          • Soy Milk – if you are not allergic to this of course
          • Almond Milk
          • Coconut Milk
          • Hemp/ Flax Milk Again, as with flour, these different milk substitutes have varying effects on the recipe being used. For much thicker consistency, I suggest using coconut milk – which also can be bought from organic stores without flavours.2 – Butter
          • Coconut oil
          • Olive Oil
          • Vegetable spreads (not a fan of these)
          • Avocado (mashed) – this is only good when the recipe is an uncooked food – great as a chocolate cake icing
          • 3 – Cheese

            4 – Whipped Cream

            • Thick coconut cream – whipped

            5 – Condensed Milk

            • Mix Coconut milk and maple syrup (yum)

            Sugar

            I use pure organic maple syrup (you are lucky if you live in Canada, because these are so expensive anywhere else)

            I have friends who are from Canada and they gave me a taste of their mayple syrup bottle (specially delivered from Canada to New Zealand) – after that I came back home and threw away any fake syrups in the cupboard. I never bought any more non-pure, maple syrup again.

            The other organic sweetener, that I use as a subsitute for sugar is 100% pure honey, now that is one thing that I can say I am blessed for, living in New Zealand. Our honey is among the best in the world, especially Manuka honey, which is renowned for its healing properties.

            You can also use stevia, isomalt or coconut raw sugar too, as an alternative to using white sugar.

            Conclusion

            Now, if you are following a specific diet or health program, you will be able to find just about every type of food can be substituted, however, for the sake of cake artistry, I have only listed the main food items that I would use as alternatives in my cake artistry.

            I do not get much cake art orders that require gluten free or dairy free products and I certainly do not profess to be a pro in this area.

            It is my intention that this may help a reader find some alternatives to their own food intolerance, especially when creating cake art.

            Please comment or share your own experiences with food intolerance, so that I can learn and that it may further help other readers as well.

            Until my next blog,

            Cake Artistry Featured Image

             

            ilaisaane@artthoucakes.com

            Most used cake artistry cake decorating techniques

            Royal Icing – The Queen of All Frostings





            Royal icing, may appear to be a difficult and outdated cake decorating technique, yet it still results in some of the most elegant and splendid cake designs that exist today.

            My attraction to Royal Icing

            I used to stand for hours, at a local cake decorator’s shop window, transfixed with the way her skillful hands, caressed the royal icing around her cakes. I had no cake artistry skills in those days, or had any knowledge of what royal icing was, being a twenty-something year old, who was on the wrong track of life heading into the nowhere, at this time.

            I thought back to when I used to day dream of decorating cakes, some day, with that same level of expertise.

            Fast forward, many years into my mid-thirties: divorced; living with three kids; as a solo mum, on an income that was dependent on the government’s generosity. I could view my lost dreams again, once I got back on my feet towards independence and taught myself how to breathe once more. My dreams to become a cake artist, became a reality.

            The first cake order, that I had ever made, was for a twenty-first birthday. The first icing that I took the time to learn and use, was royal icing. I believe that it was the best cake that I had ever decorated by hand. Sadly, I was too poor at the time to a have a means to capture and save a picture, but it will forever be imprinted in my mind, as being my first and ‘almost’ professional looking cake.

            Today, I can honestly say that, after meany years of cake artistry, royal icing is, the queen of all frostings.

            Basic Requirements

            Here are some basic requirements to note before you delve into the art of mastering royal icing:

            • You will need a good quality kitchen aid stand mixer to prepare your icing, and especially if you have more than one cake. I use the KitchenAid KSM7586PSR 7-Quart Pro Line Stand Mixer Sugar Pearl Silver. There are other excellent kitchen aid mixers, also designed by other brands but I prefer this one, as it is durable and the style is much more “non-fiddly”. By this I mean that the mixer can be moved up and down, so that the mixing bowl can be easily removed, unlike the usual design of twisting the mixers off (getting icing all over the place). Also, it is much cheaper than most brands, but has all the qualities required to make beautiful icings/frostings. 
            • You also need a set of cake spatulas and a long stainless steel ruler (to get precise and straight edging) 
            • Use large food grade covered bowls to store un-used icing inside a chiller/fridge. 
            • Once cakes are covered, they should be stored in dry, dark areas free of ants and other small pests.
            • Ensure that you have a quality stainless steel set of piping equipment and reusable piping bag/s.
            • Use food grade gloves – it could be a very sticky business.
            • Allow yourself plenty of time to decorate your cake/s. 
            • Always try to use fresh ingredients to enhance the flavors and to get quality results.
            • Make sure that you work promptly when covering cakes – as royal icing can harden within minutes of application. 
            • I suggest using turn tables for round cakes only, and to just work around square cakes one side at a time.
            • Cakes must be crumbed first using, either; a layer of marzipan, or a thin layer of fondant, before being covered in royal icing. 

            To Egg, or Not to Egg? That is The Question?

            Royal icing can be either, purchased from a store or made with your own home made recipe.

            As usual, and if you have been following me in my posts this far, you will know that I prefer to make my own icings from scratch, unless, of course, there is absolutely no other option. Royal icing do not involve too many ingredients and can be whipped up ahead of time and stored in the fridge/chiller at least 3 days ahead.
            Basically, there are two ways to make royal icing; with or without raw eggs. I like both, however, my choice to use one instead of the other, is purely based, on the amount of time to prepare it, before the cake is to be eaten.

            Using Eggs:


            If a cake is made to be eaten within a day of its creation, I often leave the decorating until the evening before, for when the temperature has cooled down, and to also ensure that egg whites are still safe to be eaten.

            Always try to obtain fresh organic eggs, as this will lesson any food safety risks in your ingredients. Fresh eggs always taste so much better and has a better outcome to your icing.

            When I wish to incorporate raw eggs (whites only), I use Martha Stewart’s Royal Icing Recipe, which uses basic (affordable) ingredients and is easy to follow. However, instead of water, I use lemon juice. The addition of lemon juice adds a nice balance to the overbearing sweet taste of icing sugar (pound sugar or confectioner’s sugar). People who have tasted my cakes welcome the tartness as a pleasant surprise.

            Not using Eggs – The Alternative:

            The second method to making Royal Icing, uses no eggs. The alternative ingredient is to use Meringue Powder – which can be bought or made ( in my opinion, the process for making meringur powder, is so time-consuming and  “niggly” that I choose to just buy the stuff instead).

            Technically, and the irony is: Meringue Powder is actually made from eggs, but it eliminates the use of raw eggs – It is great for those who are allergic, vegan, or have some sort of intolerance to raw eggs. Meringue Powder helps the royal icing to harden in less time and can hold its shape, in both cold and hot weather as well.

            When using meringue powder, I follow the basic recipe created by Sally’s baking Addiction which is just as simple as Martha’s raw egg recipe. Again, I use lemon juice instead of water, for the same reasons that I gave with the raw egg method.

            Both Royal Icing methods, can be flavoured and coloured accordingly. They can both be  made ahead of time and chilled a few days before their use.

            My Story – Why Lemon Juice Instead of Water?

            Well, there is actually a story to why I like to use lemon juice and it is one of my many childhood memories of, now, what shall we call it? “un-witnessed crimes”. The story goes like this:

            My family was invited to one of my many cousins’ one – year old birthday celebrations. I was about six years of age at the time (1978), and my aunt had left her baby girl’s lovely pink birthday cake, (that she had lovingly made), on a small hall side table, covered in thick lace.

            The children were told to strictly stay out of the house and away, from the birthday cake. We were all banned to the backyard to play hide-and-seek. 

            Now, I had seen the cake just before my aunt had covered it and I was so intrigued by the cute little rosettes, that I couldn’t help sneaking back into the house, when the adults weren’t watching.

            Royal icing Queen of all Icings-using lemon juice

            I started by sniffing, the delicious smell, then I thought, just one little touch wouldn’t hurt, but after a rosette broke off, I had to eat it, (to get rid of any evidence) and before long, I had eaten a big chunk of the corner, leaving a massive hole. 

            OMG! It was so, so  delicious! – homemade chocolate cake and yummy, yummy, yummy lemony pink royal icing…mmmmm. I quickly composed myself (when I realised what will happen if i got caught),  covered the cake, wiped my mouth and took off outside to continue hide-and-seek with the other kids, just as if nothing had happened.

            I do not remember much of the cake being brought out later, but I do remember my aunt being furious and only caught snippets of my parents asking, who would’ve done such a terrible thing. Needless to say, I didn’t say a word, and as you do, being a child,  forgot about it, growing up. But, I never forgot the taste of that glorious tangy pink royal icing, the reason why I endeavor to make my icings taste just as good as they look.

            There you go, I have just admitted to a crime that I was never punished for, and hopefully that cousin of mine won’t ever read my blogs.

            You may ask, so what was the purpose of this story again? The purpose is to show you, that sometimes I use a particular flavour, because I reminisce about something amazing that I had tasted in my childhood (and try to incorporate it in my cake artistry) so that my cake eaters can experience my stories, as well.

            Despite this, if you prefer not to use lemon, then by all means, it is, after all, your preference that matters.

            Using skills that are unique to Royal Icing

            Unlike fondant, royal icing cannot and should not be rolled. Instead, it is applied by hand, using a lathering technique, a little similar to how buttercream is applied. However, royal icing is much trickier, when trying to be precise in straight and sharp edgings.

            Royal icing Queen of all icings mastering royal icing

            Decorating with royal icing takes a lot of patience to master, and might, at first sight, appear to be really difficult, but as you get familiar with using icing tips – you will get better and much faster at it. 

            Royal icing looks more elegant with the use of smaller tips. Actually the smaller the icing tip used, the more intricate the detail/designs.This is what I prefer, when piping designs straight onto my covered cakes.

            Instead of a scraper, I choose to use a large and long cake spatula or stainless steel ruler (as seen in the image). It takes longer to cover a cake because you need to follow a rule of thumb; 24 hours for each covered side to dry, before the next side is to be covered in icing. A circular cake may in comparison, not be as time-consuming to cover and to dry, although the rule of thumb will still apply.

            The reasons for this? So, that each layer of covering is given enough time to harden and to dry completely, before the next layer. Failure to do this, will result in your cake sagging, or losing its shape if its foundations are not dry. This also results in decorations falling off the main structure (trust me, you don’t want this happening while everyone is watching).

            So in effect, a cake needs to be covered at least a few days ahead, so that you can give yourself time to get the decorations done in time. I suggest doing this, at least a week or two before you start decorating.

            Mastering Such Finesse

            In regards to simplicity and elegance, I rate royal icing to be the best above all the other icing techniques. Although it is outdated, It is a skill that cannot be mastered without much practice and help from more experienced cake decorators short online courses and, watching lots of other people’s cake videos and blogs. I suggest that you do the same, if you are serious about starting a cake artistry business.

            I continue to up-skill myself in mastering this icing for my cake artistry, and still believe that royal icing is the queen of all frostings. It is my hope that this post will help you also, to improve your own knowledge/skills in using Royal Icing, as part of your cake artistry.

            Please leave a few words below, on your thoughts about royal icing or, ask me anything that I may help you with.

            See you again soon,

            Cake Artistry Featured Image

             

            ilaisaane@artthoucakes.com

            All about buttercream-main image

            All Things Buttercream – My Six Best to Use for Cake Artistry








            Probably one of my most favourite, and most reliable, icings to use on the go to or for flavour and texture is buttercream. It is probably just about everyone else’s favourite also, no matter what age or gender they are.

            I have literally seen grown men wanting more buttercream than cake. Therefore, this post is about all things buttercream and what I consider the six best to use in cake artistry.

            Buttercream is a mixed consistency of fat (dairy or animal fat – watch this video on my previous post to know how to add tallow) and icing sugar (also known as, powdered or pound, confectioners sugar). Other ingredients that can be included are sugar syrups, eggs, flour and milk.

            This icing is used for filling, frosting, covering and decorating. I have used different variations, although I tend to stick to the most basic and less time-consuming of the recipes. I only use the other types, when there is call for extreme extravagance.

            All Things Buttercream

            Some of the best recipes are not found online, I have gone to libraries and even listened to friends, family members and strangers I have met, give their verbal versions, while writing furiously on anything I have on hand (even my arm! yes, even my arm).

            At the end it will be your own taste bud that will guide you to which is the best, and these are my six best buttercream variations.

            The final choice of buttercream to use, will depend on the following factors: how many people will be eating the cake/s; the seasonal weather conditions; the environment that it will be displayed in; and the hours it will take from delivery to when it is to be eaten.

            If you would like to find your own recipes or learn from professionals then I recommend an online baking course that I have found to be of great use and works around my time, Cakerschool. They teach everything that you would want to learn about cake artistry on-line.

            However, if you do not think that you can make these yourself or cannot be bothered (yes it is okay, to feel this way – we are human and it is something to be not ashamed of) there are store bought, pre-made buttercream available for you also, yay!

            Some Guidelines First

            Once you have made buttercream a few times, you will soon find out, what not to do and here a few guidelines that could be of great use:

            • Always try to use ingredients at room temperature

            If your ingredients are too cold or too hot, your buttercream will turn out either too thin or too thick. What you want is a beautiful, light yet fluffy ‘melt-in-your-mouth’ consistency.

            • Avoid using butter that is too soft

            Butter should be soft enough to break or cut into cube form but not too much that it creates an almost oily like consistency. This will there are cause separation or give a curdled looking result.

            Trust me it doesn’t look good and you will understand this when your icing does not look as pale as it should. I have had a lot of failures to know so.

            Another option is to use tallow or vegetable fat (see my previous post on this).

            • Do not freak out if separation happens during the process

            While mixing your buttercream curdling or separation may happen, this usually, is a natural process and can be easily fixed by further beating/mixing. I threw away quite a few good mixtures before I made this discovery.

            • Storage of buttercream

            Home made buttercream can be stored after initial use, for up to several days in the fridge or three weeks in freezer.

            • Always use fresh ingredients

            Using the freshest eggs, milk or fat/butter can definitely give better quality to your buttercream taste, consistency and texture.

            • Flavours and colours

            Any flavour or coloring can be added without affecting the texture or consistency. Cream cheese, can also be added to give a touch of saltiness – and goes well with carrot or red velvet cakes.

            I strongly suggest using gel colours rather than water based however, and pure essences rather there are just so that buttercream remains vibrant.

            • You can use buttercream to decorate on top of royal or fondant

            Okay – I am not really a fan of mixing icings, but there will be rare instances where it is practical to do so. However, I try to use only one type of icing per cake – so that the flavours taste right.

            • There are variations of recipes

            You will find so many variations – like I have and some will not work out and others will. Steal like an artist and make those recipes into your own.

             

            German Buttercream

            all about buttercream - German

            German Buttercream

            This buttercream is more suitable as a filling or piped decoration rather than a covering. It is a rarely used icing because of how it is made. I only made this a few times to fill my creme doughnuts with as it is delicious.

            The secret to its deliciousness lies in the fact that it is first prepared as vanilla pudding/custard before it is whipped with butter and a little icing sugar to create an icing with strong stability and lovely vanilla taste reminiscent of a MacDonald’s soft serve cone. Yum!

            This icing will hold in its form in the weather, however because of its dairy content would not encourage it being on display for long hours in the sun or in heat, or you will have guests soon queuing at the rest rooms, if you get what I mean – not fair if they blame it on the catering company either.

            I have yet to come across a pre-made store bought product of this icing (the only ones sold are normal buttercream tubs) though, however nothing beats homemade German buttercream.

            American Buttercream

            All about buttercream-American

            American Buttercream

            This buttercream recipe is probably the most mentioned buttercream and a very popular one. I have found many variations to its basic recipe.

            American buttercream is also the easiest Icing to make. It is made by mixing twice as much icing sugar and fat together (butter, margarine or vegetable shortening), with a little coloring/flavouring.

            This icing creates a thin layer of frosting when it is in a cool dry environment, which prevents it being sticky. However, despite its simplicity to make, it is also the sweetest of all the buttercream types.

            I personally use this icing more than the others, as there is no cooking, or long mixing involved. If you did not read my previous post for ‘My Best Money Saving Tips for Cake Artistry’ (I suggest you read it, if you want to save money), I mention there how I use tallow (100% pure beef fat) or animal shortening as part of my buttercream recipe.

            Italian Meringue Buttercream

            All about buttercream-Italian

            Italian buttercream

            This icing adds a sugar syrup (heated sugar and water) to the mix, with the addition of glucose or corn syrup to help stabilize it. Sugar and water are heated to 240 degrees Fahrenheit, while egg whites are beaten to form soft peaks.

            The sugar syrup is there are added slowly to the egg whites to cook them (making them no longer raw). While it is beaten back to room temperature butter is added and beaten to form a lovely and soft consistency.

            This icing has a glossy sheen to it, when it is whipped and holds its shape well in air-conditioned environments.

            Swiss Meringue Buttercream

            All about buttercream-Swiss

            Swiss Buttercream

            Over a saucepan of barely simmering water, egg whites and heated until they reach a temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. This is another way to slowly cook the eggs, so that they are safe for consumption.

            Very much like the Italian Meringue, the egg whites are there are whipped to room temperature and into soft peaks. Butter is finally added, and beaten until it forms a thick but smooth and spreadable consistency.

            Again, very much like the Italian meringue this icing hold its shape but only in air-conditioned environments.

            French Meringue Buttercream

            All about buttercream-French

            French Buttercream

            French is very much like the Italian and Swiss Meringue Icings. However, the French Meringue utilises a mixture of a whole egg and egg white as its base making it much more rich in color, flavor and appearance than the other two.

            It is very much choux pastry base used for profiteroles and eclairs – yet uncooked.

            This recipe is rarely used, because of Food Safety limitations in raw food consumption (especially egg or chicken products).

            I have only used this recipe once but it was included in an ice cream cake, so that it was kept at a very a cool temperature. It was for an adult function and it was small enough to be eaten within an hour with a lot of alcohol to kill off any salmonella (I am writing this with a grin).

            Therefore, I would not use this recipe for hot or humid environments or for children’s cakes.

            Boiled Buttercream

            All about buttercream boiled

            Boiled Buttercream

            This icing, is also understood as Ermine buttercream and is a very old-fashioned buttercream. Like the other buttercream icings, there are several variations to this one.

            I am a great fan of the boiled buttercream only for the simple fact that it, not only withholds its shape, but it lasts well in any weather condition.

            Why? because flour is included and is cooked with milk to first of all make a custard (at this stage sugar can be added, which is my preference), and there are beaten with soft butter and castor sugar (granulated sugar – beating it last, leaves a grainy feel though, hence my preference).

            It is easy and really delicious, not to mention that you can vary the flour types for gluten intolerance as well.

            Conclusion

            No matter what buttercream you prefer, any of the six I have listed will be all delicious, if made with your own personality and special touch.

            If you are only a beginner in cake artistry and have never graduated from just plain icing sugar and butter mixtures, I encourage you to take the next step forward and make one of the above icings – even if its for a trial. The guidelines will help you.

            Remember also, that the amount of people, the environment of display and the time it is kept out (from delivery to display) will determine what type of buttercream you use.

            If you wish to learn how to make these butter creams or want some recipes, then Cakerschool can help. I commend their courses for reliability and professionalism.

            And…at the end of the day, if, for whatever reason, you do not want to make these yourself, there is absolutely nothing wrong with purchasing the store bought buttercream, as long as you and I understand that, all should be fine.

            Again it is my pleasure to have you on my site, my next post will be: All about Fondant. Please feel free to comment and to share your own tips or experiences.

            Visit again soon to read about more cake artistry tips.

            Enjoy,

            Cake Artistry Featured Image

             

            ilaisaane@artthoucakes.com

            Cake Artistry featured cakes-decorating techniques

            My Most Used Cake Art Decorating Techniques




            Cake artistry can be time-consuming and demoralising at times, when you cannot achieve that particular finished look. Sometimes, just the thought of what decorating technique is best to use, can be quite a task in itself.

            I am in no way an expert, and know that just about everyone who bakes will have their own fair share of decorating techniques.

            I too, have used the ideas and techniques of other well-known cake artists, but applied and made those skills my own. Therefore, in this post I would like to share a list of my most used cake art decorating techniques for you, to adapt and to make your own as well.

            Piped

            In my previous post, I had mentioned piping and stated that my favourite was the Lambeth technique. Despite this, I have to say, piping isn’t one of my strongest decorating skills and like I said, am still developing in this cake art form.

            Piping, is a technique that requires great patience and focus. Once you decide to pipe your decorations, it is too late to change your mind (this is speaking from experience).

            Unlike painting and smudging, the iced covering may not look so good after you try to wipe it off, should you decide mid way to change your decoration medium. If you do, you may need to gather your wit about you and become very resourceful.

            Most used cake artistry cake decorating techniques

            My first attempt at decorative piping

            The only time I appreciate a cake turntable is when I do piping. If you have not got one, I suggest you purchase a good quality one that enables you to do your cake artistry with precision.

            I have a ‘lazy Susan’ which is okay, but it can turn on its own which makes my piping go wobbly. The only reason I still keep it, is because it was a gift from my sister.

            The next thing you should have for piping, are piping bags, piping tips and couplers (each size relevant to its purpose). Your cake/cakes should already be covered in smooth fondant or royal icing, before you pipe.

            You can choose, to either be very lavish and sophisticated in your piped decorations, by going for the retro look; intricate lace looking frills and scallops, or, you can use piping to draw cute and basic designs; such lettering/numbers or tiny scallops on the edge.

            Whatever skill level you may possess, piping is a technique that all cake artists should have some experience with, even if it is just, to say that you have done it. When I decided to do elaborate piping for the first time, I had to actually psych myself up to get the courage to actually do it.

            You see, to me, skilled piping is the pinnacle of cake artistry techniques. Unlike all the other art forms, it gives very little room for errors, especially if it is going on someone’s $3000 wedding cake.

            Smeared

            The smear technique is quite modern and very simple. It only requires the use of an icing spatula or smoother to smear patches of different coloured icing to or around the circumference of the covered cake, by turning the turntable very slowly as you do this.

            This technique is also used, when wanting a marbled pattern effect or making a background for other decorations to be placed on. This is a very easy, and effective technique when wanting something that is quick but still stand out.

            Most used cake artistry decorating techniques smeared

            Smeared technique used for a marbled effect

            Another way to smear is to use a sponge with edible paint straight onto the smoothed fondant and does not require patterns to be aligned.

            Painted

            Okay this the one that I specialise in, more than any other cake art technique.
            I have always loved coloring, mixing and using any form of painting. I am not sure where this passion came from as my Grandmother never did anything with painting.

            My mother did tell me once, though, now get this, when I was already married, had three kids and divorced; that from the age of four, my parents knew I had a talent for art, when they often caught me hand drawing horses and really difficult forms, and then used coloring pencils to fill in my lined figures.

            Now, why did they not see that, and support my talent!  I could’ve been a child prodigy, be now famous and living of my art…okay, this is just one of my many “if only…” moments.

            I guess life only gives you what you need, at the right time and I have to have some regrets in my life to keep me grounded.

            Most used cake artistry decorating techniques paint

            Icing was hand painted with brush

            Now, yes, back to the cake painting, well if you love to paint, there are many forms and all use edible paints:

            • air brushing – this creates very precise lines and shades
            • hand painting – using brushes
            • water painting affects
            • painting onto or on top of a stencil
            • roller painting
            • brush brushing or dabbing
            • spray painting
            • sponge painting
            • paint air blowing

            Now you can see why I get so excited with painting, it has no limitations to what I can do and use.

            Dusting

            Pearl dusts and colored dusting has become a very popular way of coloring fondant or royal icing without the added mess of liquids. These dusts are edible powders that are supplied in various colors. They can be used to create edible paint with a little mix of vodka, but also dusted straight onto hand made toppers.

            The latter technique gives a beautiful effect to flower petals and add an almost realistic blush/hue. Dusting is also useful for shading highlights on the faces of figurines and modeled toppers.

            Stenciling

            If there is one advice to give here, do not buy cheap stencils that will break, or not stick to your cake. There, I think this pretty much explains what comes next.

            Most used cake artistry decorating techniques stenciled

            I used a stencil and edible spray paint for this cake

            Stenciling can be just as difficult to correct as the piping technique. Stencils are made from rectangular plastics cut with intricate designs and shapes. Some are worded phrases or letters/numbers and others are of filigrees and lace designs.

            Stencils are held in place to the covered cake with sewing pins or craft pins, and icing is then smoothed with a spatula on top of the stencil. Afterwards, the stencil is removed the designs remain imprinted on the cake icing.

            Another form of stenciling, that I personally use in conjunction with piping is imprinting, by using a piece of hard plastic or an A5 clear thin piece of glass (usually recycled from a small photo frame).

            I use royal icing (which hardens very well) to draw the outline of an image or shape. I leave this for a few hours to harden and then use the glass or plastic to press the imprints onto my cake and then either paint the colours into them or pipe the outlines with royal icing.

            Imprints, Embossing, Texturing

            Imprints, embossing and texturing are all similar, in which they use impression mats, rollers and textured mediums to create different patterns on icing to give a specific appearance or dimension. I have included some examples below in how each can be used:

            Imprint – very much like a stencil but the mat is created from silicon and engraved with the shapes or designs. This mat is pressed onto fondant covering to give an elaborate patterned texture.

            Emboss – this too uses a mat but not made of silicon. The patterns are imprinted onto either small shaped plungers or on elaborately patterned metal plates. These are pressed either straight onto the covered cake or onto the rolled icing and then pasted to the iced cake. This also has an opposite method called debossing, used exactly in the same way, but displays the opposite effect.

            Texturing – this technique is useful when, for example you would like to make a wooden treasure box and require the right texture. These use, imprinted mats as well as patterned rollers or patterned tools to create the right textures.

            Overlayering and laces

            Most used cake artistry decorating techniques-layering

            Overlayering technique I used for a baby shower cake

            Both overlayering and lace artistry techniques use fondant icing.

            As the name states overlayering, is when fondant shapes are either cut by knife, or shape cutters, and then pasted onto the fondant covering, layer by layer. These give a beautiful and clean looking effect. This technique alongside the smudging technique is probably the easiest cake art technique to follow in my view.

            I think my reason for this, is because it brings me happy childhood memories of my kindergarten days playing with colorful play dough.

            Lace techniques, require a little more skill and finesse. If you do not have delicate touch, don’t bother, just buy the ready-made ones.

            I have made a few of my own following easy homemade lace recipes and of course using expensive lace mats that I had to order on the internet. The difficulty of lacing is, when trying to remove the damned lace from the mat.

            My impatience can sometimes get the better of me and instead of tearing the dried lace carefully, I end up pulling the lace out of proportion altogether and tearing it apart. This is my main frustration with laces.

            However, laces layered onto the cake can be spectacular, if done properly. I have not given up though, and am still working at improving my lace art.

            Gold and Silver Edible Wrap/Leaf Paper

            Most used cake artistry decorating techniques gold leaf paper

            Using gold leaf paper decoration

            I am not a fan of these, for the main fact that they are an added expense. I would rather paint metallic silver or gold and not have to pay for an expensive sheet of paper that ends up being shredded to be pasted on cakes. Nevertheless, most customers like the modern ‘ad hoc’ or rustic look of ripped gold and I do have to admit, it is art after all.

            Melted Sugar

            Spinning sugar and making sugar glass can add effective looks to any cake art. Spun sugar is a food art in itself, and can be used for more purposes other than just decoration.

            This technique is not for the faint-hearted, it requires exemplary skills to not only to cook but also to handle. This is another cake art form that I am working towards mastering, amongst they are a rare decorating request amoung my Tongan customers.

            Sugar glassmaking, is yet another artistry technique that needs skill to prepare and shape. This decoration is useful when creating windows for a gingerbread house cake, or making a snow glacier themed cake. Although quite difficult at first, sugar glass can be a fun addition to any cake and make you very popular with the kids.

            Just remember that both these artistry techniques require the correct tools and most specifically; a food cooking thermometer. This is one of the items I had listed in my ‘Basic Kitchen Rules-for Cake Artistry’ post.

            Toppers

            Home made edible toppers are really fun, and anyone who played with play dough as a child will enjoy this technique even without any artistic back ground.

            There are many YouTube videos posted to give step by step instructions and the internet has many guided posts. There are many tool kits also, produced to assist and make it easier to create your own toppers.

            Most used cake artistry decorating techniques toppers

            My Thomas Topper decorated cake

            However, toppers can consist of just about anything that can be imagined; from the most extraordinary to the most basic, whether edible or not, such as:

            • hand made – pictures, edible flowers, animals, toys, figurines, jewelry, adult themed or children themed, fantasy or science fiction etc.,
            • by 3D printing – using pretty much anything, but this too, is an added expensive
            • using silicone moulds – using your own or a store bought moulding dough
            • non- edible items – i.e., toys, ribbons, lettering, real flowers etc.,
            • nature/rustic – twigs or dried fruit and leaves

            Chocolate crafts

            Shapes and forms, using decorating chocolate can be great but not so practical, when you live in a hot temperate location. Chocolate decorations are most popular during easter or Christmas.

            It is easily pliable and a great medium for lettering and piping drippings off the edge of cakes. Nowadays chocolate can be flavoured and coloured to unique specifications. They can also be moulded and shaped to add beautiful sculptured art decorations.

            A quick way of adding chocolate toppers is to just buy chocolate lollies like pebbles and throw them on top, if you are running out of time or you just want to add a fun looking cake for a child’s party.

            Baked toppers

            Not many people reaslise it, but this form of decorating has crept into artistry and is gaining popularity. Adding a couple of wafers biscuits, meringues, macaron or even cupcakes are now acceptable forms of cake art. Add a little sprinkle of gold dust or dribbled chocolate with some little edible flowers and you have a masterpiece.

            Most used cake artistry decorating techniques baked goods

            Using baked goods as decorations

            Baked goods can be either bought or home-made, but I prefer the latter. Other baked goods such as chocolate covered fingers and Tim-tams can be used as structural support too.

            Conclusion

            The techniques that I have briefly explained are my most used cake art decorating techniques. I may choose to use just one on its own, or use several techniques together to ensure the specific design or look that I am aiming at.

            This is not an exhaustive list as I am sure that you may have your own techniques that are not listed here, however these are only my own and I am more than happy for you to share or comment about yours.

            I still prefer to make everything from scratch but there are those rare occasions, where it is not my call, but the exact request of the customer, to add a non-edible topper or natural floral decoration.

            I hope that my post be of help to anyone who wants to further improve their skills in cake artistry. Please do not hesitate to ask any questions, or email me at ilaisaane@artthoucakes.com.

            See you in my next post,

            Cake Artistry Featured Image

             

            ilaisaane@artthoucakes.com

            My savingMy-money- tips-in-cake-artistry

            My Best Money Saving Tips For Cake Artistry





            I had briefly mentioned in my previous post, about the costs involved with Cake Artistry. The total amount of money required to bake, create and decorate just one cake will depend on the final design.

            Being extra creative comes at a cost, but no fear, I have compiled a few of my best money saving tips for cake artistry, in this post, for you to include in your own.

            Alternative Ingredients

            Beef Fat or Tallow

            My money saving tips-alternative ingredients

            A close up of the tallow that I use – clear and 100% fat

            I use tallow (100% organic beef fat) in addition to whole cream butter, in my butter icings. I got this idea, whilst watching YouTube one day, from a well-known cake artist, who lives in Canada, Krazy Kool Cakes (now, one of my favourite cake decorators). Her reasons for using this ingredient, instead of only butter, was because the majority of her cake orders were for the hot season.

            Tallow (which, she bought from Walmart) mixed with butter held the buttercream shape longer in the heat. It was also much cheaper than using only butter. Check out her video, she is a Krazy Kool chick!

             
            My Nana also used tallow, when she deep-fried her Tongan famous fried yeast cakes (keke). Unlike the ones people make today, using canola oil, Nana’s kekes always remained soft and kept their round forms without the oily residue.

            I buy my tallow bulk (20kg box), online from an organic New Zealand farm, that produces clear white one hundred percent pure beef fat, which doesn’t affect the icing flavour. It cost me $60 but it has lasted me for a few months.

            Half a box has provided me for more than forty cakes, and I also use it for our home cooked meals instead of some oils. I use a one part  butter and two parts tallow in all my buttercream and cream cheese icings. I have never had any complaints from any of my customers.

             

            Corn Flour, Corn Starch, Arrowroot Flour

            Did you know that using half part corn flour (also known as corn starch) with half part icing sugar (also known as confectioner’s sugar) in icing recipes, can lessen the sweetness?

            Well, I came upon this, by accident. I had a customer, who said that she preferred buttercream, but that it tasted too sweet. She asked if I could find a buttercream recipe that was suitably less sweet. This gave me new challenge.

            After searching for a few days on the internet, I couldn’t find one recipe. So, I looked in my cupboard, and mentally created recipes with each ingredient. It was when, my eyes rested on the boxes of corn flour and arrow root flour, that it hit me!

            Both corn and arrowroot flours have the same consistency and use as icing sugar, but were not sweet. I did some research to make sure that mixing the ingredients was not going to cause any health issues, and all the information I found only gave positive reviews.

            My money saving tips corn flour

            Therefore, I made a few buttercream recipes using each of the flour ingredients (tested each on my family, as I do) and voilà!

            They tasted incredible; were less sweet and much creamier. The buttercream consistency was much better overall, because, the corn/arrowroot flours bound the ingredients together to create more hold to the shape form, without too much crusting, (too much crusting can cause icing to crumble and break).

            The new buttercream recipe’s debut was at my great aunt’s birthday, which was held on a very hot day. The icing held its shape, right to the end, even when it was accidentally bumped into. I got a rave review for the taste.

            I also use corn flour when rolling fondant or royal icing – much less sticky when rolled. The best part about these new ideas were the fact, that I could save more money buying less icing sugar.

            These are only two of my favourite alternative ingredients that I have used to save money, but I am sure to find more and will update this post when I do.

            Opportunity Shops & Online Trade Markets

            I prefer to purchase used goods, rather than new. My grandmother also, was a lover of used goods stores, she used to take me along when she visited them.

            I buy a lot of my cooking/baking/cake art tools second hand (usually at less than $5 an item). I only buy new items for quality (online stores) or for things that I cannot find anywhere else.

            Some of my most valuable and unique cake art tools were found at opportunity shops, items that are either no longer produced or limited editions from eons ago, that the new generation have no idea how to use.

            A few of my favourites: egg yolk separators, hand held butter/dough slicers (dicing butter into the dough), and fondant flattening spoon for rose petals. Fortunately, I have seen my Nana using some of these to know what they are used for.

            I am still old-fashioned in how I make my cakes – preferring to whisk/beat by hand rather than use machinery, not only to save the use of my power, but for the love of feeling with my hands to create.

            I would rather create my floral arrangements or cake toppers, from scratch. Most of these old fashioned tools give me that opportunity, and not to mention the arm exercises are an added bonus.

            Money saving tips - opportunity shops

            If I ever choose to sell my cake artistry tools, they would have no monetary value, but their usefulness and effectiveness, are worth a thousand times more, than many of the costly new modern items being advertised today, that have no longevity.

            They have saved me a lot of money.

            Online trade markets are also just as useful for saving money. I found an old fridge, which was given to me free, on local online trade market via Facebook. It was old but still worked well. It was converted it into my cake chiller, and is stored in my garage. To save money on power usage, it is only turned on for cake art.

            I have also, found unusual plant holders online too, that can be converted into ornamental cake stands, with a little TLC.

            Recycle left overs

            Do not throw away your left over cake art. Fondant or royal icing decorations hardened with tylose can last for years, because of its high sugar content. On saying that, the ‘foreverness’ of your creations, will depend on how, they will be stored.

            They need to be kept away from moisture and pests, in dry cardboard boxes (not enclosed in plastic containers) covered with paper towels, to allow them to breathe.

            Money saving tips-recycling left overs

            My left over floral toppers from February this year

            I have many left over flowers and roses kept stored away, to be recycled in any future cake art requests.

            Some topper decorations are more than six months old. I try to recycle them within a year, as I do not believe in keeping anything for longer than a year.

             

            Buttercream icing can also be frozen for up to 3 months in an airtight container, or 3-4 days in a chiller/refrigerator. Royal icing using meringue powder, can be left out for up to 3 days, and royal icing made with actual eggs can be chilled for up to 3 days.

            Fondant can be kept in enclosed containers away from sunlight, in a cool dark part of your pantry or food cupboard. I have fondant stored from the previous year, that I still use. Fondant hardens once it is exposed after its initial use, but can be made pliable with 30 seconds in the microwave and kneading for a few minutes.

            Recycling cake topper art, can save you a lot of money and time in the long run.

            Bulk Buying

            When I have quite a few cake orders, I like to combine all the required ingredients and buy these in bulk ahead of time. This also saves me from doing several trips as well as save money. I am sometimes fortunate to do this when some large department stores have their monthly bargains.

            If I do not use all the ingredients,  it becomes part of our family cooking or donated at church.

            Here are some products that can be bought in bulk:

            • Flour – I buy two 5kg bags
            • Sugar – I buy three 5kg bags
            • Icing Sugar – I buy about 10 x 2kg bags, less than $3 each
            • Corn Flour – I buy about 10 x 500 grams boxes, these cost less than $2 each
            • Tallow/ Beef Shortening – I buy 1 x 20 kg box online

            Creating My own

            I am always on the search for home made recipes or things that will help me to save money. I have added two of my favourites, here as examples:

            • Home made fondant

            Fondant is so expensive yet, it is, the most used ingredient for my cake art. I use a simple recipe that uses marshmallows to make my own fondant – this saves me money, gives me better creativity with flavours and it is not as sweet as the store bought fondants.

            • Home made silicon moulds

            Money saving tips home made moulds

            When I first started cake art, I tried to buy a topper for one of my cakes. The cake shop display price was $50 for a small figurine. I vowed that day, to make my own toppers and after much research, I found a basic food grade silicon mold recipe online.

            I used this to create my own moulds for cake toppers and other creations. These moulds last forever, and can be squished again and re-used for other shapes. My homemade silicon mould dough has saved me so much money. However, for those who don’t want to go through all this trouble, you can just buy polymer clay.

            • Home made cake dividers

            Money saving tips home made cake dividers

            I save large pieces of styrofoam that were used as part of packaging. I then cut these using box cutters and a lighter, into various shapes to use as cake dividers (as seen in the image above).

            With a bit of imagination and a few ornaments or coverings, these foams develop into spectacular cake dividers, which can be used again or sold as part of the cake arrangement. This is such a money saver for me, because foam cake dummies are so expensive these days. A 10 inch round foam costs between $30-$40, but my home made foams allow me any size that I want for free.

            • Home made cake stands

            Sometimes, just using people as resources can save money too. I am blessed, to be married to a metal engineer/welder. I can design a metal cake stand and ask my husband to weld them together for me. These stands are used for household decor too, when not used for my cake art.

            I use glue gun to stick clear plastic plates and bowls together, to create gorgeous crystal looking table cake display stands, which I decorate with glass looking craft beads for additional glam. I sell these stands as part of the display  with the cakes.

            Conclusion

            There are so many more money saving tips for cake artistry, and I have added but a few of what I use. I have no doubt, that as I progress in my cake art, I will discover many more ideas on how to simplify my budget. I also know, that you too, may have some amazing tips to add, so please share them, I would love to read your comments.

            Feel free to ask me anything, or add your thoughts below, I would love to know what your money saving tips for cake artistry are.

            Until my next post,

            Cake Artistry Featured Image

             

            ilaisaane@artthoucakes.com

            cake decorating ideas

            My Simple Process To Get Easy Cake Decorating Ideas





            Sometimes, for many of us, thinking up cake decorating ideas can be really difficult, and can create many sleepless nights of dreaming and endless hours spent googling. I am going to write a simple process, that I follow, to get easy decorating ideas for my cake artistry.

            When I receive requests for specific occasions, I get really excited, but what excites me more, is when I am asked by my customer to surprise them with any unique design; I can pretty much do whatever I want.

            However, despite this permitted freedom, I ensure that the people, I am making the cakes for, are involved in every step; from start to finished product.

            Regardless of skill level, this simple process will assist anyone to design and create unique cake art.

            The Occasion or Purpose

            When I receive a cake order or request, I try to have an initial consult with my customer. My first question is always: what is the occasion or purpose.

            Getting this information, is crucial so that, designs can be customised according to the occasion. Some cake art designs, factor in cultural backgrounds, or to portray funny memories/thoughts, or even weird items/themes.

            You  find out about any diet requirements too, during this initial consult.

            My cousin’s children graduated from university recently and I had the pleasure of creating their cakes. She requested that some of our Tongan culture be included in the decorations. I created each cake with the university logo and decorated the sides to look just like our Tongan tapa mats (all hand painted by the way).

            Graduation cakes for my cousin

            My cousin’s children’s graduation cakes

            Another aspect to finding out about the occasion is, to get details to where the ceremony will be held. For example, if the venue/ reception will be outside, and during summer, the design of that cake will need to withstand bugs and the heat.

            Therefore, finding out the occasion or purpose, will give you, an idea of the ingredients needed and how the cake should be designed.

            Budget

            Sometimes, the amount of money that the customer can afford, will have an impact on your cake art design also. I personally like to customise my cake art to how much my customer can afford.

            For example, if a young couple cannot afford a lavish cake design, I try to offer them a more affordable yet beautiful design. This is my way of giving back to the community, nothing gives me more pleasure than to see people happy. Money does not make beautiful cake art, people do.

            For people who can afford to pay, I ask for a small non-refundable deposit (20%) to guarantee that I am paid for my time, should there be an early cancellation.

            I  would list down all the required items including my labour and make up a budget. This budget is what I use as foundation to what I use, as a final price to quote for my service and end product (less the pre-paid deposit).

            Budget list for cake orders

            I usually give ‘mate’s rates’ for friends and family, which is usually a large discount (if you are reading this and you are my friend/family – this is how much I love you, but all good since, I do get to take home a mat or large ‘doggy bag’ in return).

            I suggest that you try and get a mutual agreement for the final price, before giving your service and heart to any new project (verbal agreements are fine, if its someone you know but I suggest having it written via quote/invoice).

            Another thing to consider when agreeing on a budget and also for your decorating ideas, is, to ask about, the amount of people attending and eating the cake/s that you will be creating.

            I sometimes make an extra cake or two, as a back up, not only for any extra people (uninvited gate crashers are normally expected at our Tongan celebrations), but also, in case of any unwarranted accidents and I need to fix any cakes at very short notice (especially, for long distance deliveries).

            Note: If you make a full-time earning from your cake creations –  include any taxes to be paid (GST or Income Tax) in your budget/quote/invoice.

            Icing Type, Colors & Flavours

            Okay, this should be quite straight forward. Getting the right icing type, colors and flavouring are crucial to your cake decorating ideas/designs – this is where, constant communication with the customer is advised.

            When I was working on a recent wedding cake order, the customer changed the colors about four times during the process, because she couldn’t make up her mind what colors to use for her bridesmaids. So expect to have a few leftover unused decorations after your cake art is completed.

            Another way to get the exact coloring is to request a sample color of the fabrics being used for the venue decor, or bridal party. A photo with the intended colors is also very helpful.

            Coloring and Flavours

            Sometimes, I make a 6-inch sample cake for the customer to test, with all the required icing, coloring and flavours. I then, tweak the cake art according to the customer’s opinion.

            If my customer gives an outlandish, impossible flavor, I advise them so. However, I am always up for new challenges and if I do not find a recipe, I create a new recipe (my poor family have to test drive these new flavors of course – before I offer it to the customers).

            About 95% of the time, though, I can say, without a doubt, that I have been able to accommodate most of the flavours requested. My nephew’s wedding will be held in October next year, and he requested a yam flavored cake, which I look forward to posting about later.

            Decorating Mediums

            Some designs or decorations require different mediums for greater effect. My main specialty is hand painting and sketching on fondant. This takes great patience and time, but the special effects are worth it. I encourage you to find which medium that the customer might wish to have. If you like to specialise on a specific cake art medium, using photos of your previous work, can help your customers to choose what you prefer as well.

            Hand painted decorations on cakes

            I am not a fan of sticking on pre-made or pre-bought decorations on my cakes – as this will not be true, to what I believe true ‘cake artistry’ is all about. I do my best to create everything to at least over 90% edible decorations, rather than have plastic or non edible stuff, including sweets and ‘what nots’ added, for the sake of saving time.

            Adding fresh flowers too, for me, is not being really creative, because they were not created by you! personally, I think real flowers are just another added expense and for all their glory, leave cakes looking naked once they are removed.

            Now that I have said it, feel free to add your own thoughts into the comments section. However at the end of the day, if you disagree, just do you, so please don’t shoot me!

            Basic Design

            This is my favorite part. After, I have gathered all of the above information from my customers, I make myself a cup of coffee and sit in a comfortable spot, with an art sketch book (used specifically for my cake art) and draw to my hearts content.

            This is similar to ‘brain storming’ but I call it ‘cake storming’. I lose myself in my drawings (very therapeutic) and when I believe I have a design, I take a screen shot with my phone and send it to my customer for their final comments/approval.

            Cake storming ideas

            Sometimes, if time is not an issue, I create a miniature 3-D cake model, made from glued cardboard paper and foam, and decorate with the colors. This helps me to visualise a final product and to stay focused during my work.

            I try to remain true to my customer’s requests, in my cake art. If I am given no requests, I try to use the customer’s personalities and likes, to allow them to be still a part of the process.

            Sometimes, I ask permission to view their social media pages. In this way, I am always focused on what my customer’s wants are, and not about how good I think my cake art is.

            Conclusion

            I would like to conclude this blog with a brief summary of what I have just written. In order to create unique cake art, you must have some cake decorating ideas or designs in mind. Sometimes this is the most difficult hurdle to jump.

            Have a consult with your customer and find out: what the occasion is and/or the purpose for the cake/s; how much your cake art will cost for both the customer and yourself; get detailed information on icing type, colouring and flavouring; ask what decorating mediums are required.

            With this information sketch a basic design or make a miniature model of your cake.

            Last but not least, always keep in mind that your customer’s needs and wants are more important than a showcase of your own creativity. Therefore, by following my simple process, anyone can easily discover cake decorating ideas for their own cake artistry.

            Please comment if you have found this post useful or would like to share how you get your cake decorating ideas. Despite my suggestions, I encourage you to always remain true to you.

            Best wishes,

            Cake Artistry Featured Image

             

            ilaisaane@artthoucakes.com

            Food health safety certificate

            Kitchen Safety Rules – for Cake Artistry




            First thing is first, before any creative decorating or cake artistry, there are a few basic standard requirements that we need to look at first; to ensure that the people eating our delicious creations do not fall off their seats and die while doing so, or that we hurt ourselves, during our work.

            I am a stickler for hygiene and safety, especially when it comes to my food handling, whether it be for my own family or anyone else.

            Therefore, I suggest a few kitchen safety rules below, to consider before you start on your cake art.

            Food Handling & Safety

            Back in my Nana’s days, food safety standards, were quite lax, anybody could prepare anything edible and sell at the local flea market (this is what we called markets in New Zealand, in case you thought we sold fleas) or on the street straight out of their home kitchen.

            During this time, ‘flash’ and expensive restaurants would allow patrons to take left overs home in a “doggy bag”.

            Now days, you cannot prepare and sell precooked food, without a basic food safety certificate and restaurants will not allow anyone to take any food home, no matter how much is left over, and all that yummy food will go straight to the garbage bins. Continue reading

            Caker Artistry Featured about Author

            About Ilaisaane





            Welcome to my website. Whether you are a beginner or a professional, I hope that you will find helpful information to further improve your cake decorating skills.

            My Passion For Cake Artistry

             

            image of my grandmother

            My beautiful grandmother Ana Fisi’ihone Akauola

             

            I am a self-taught Cake Artist (having used techniques from various on-line videos and short courses) and Professional Cake Artists.

            My passion for baking and art, started at the age of nine, when I used to help my late maternal grandmother, Ana Fisi’ihone Halangahu Akauola (more dearly known as “Nana”). This web page is dedicated to her memory, and all that she had inspired in me.

            Nana ran a little stall in our local markets during the early 1980s, where she sold yummy fried Tongan donuts made with yeast (keke ‘isite) alongside her many other homemade crafts.

            My cousin Rose and I, were her little helpers: craft making, cooking, sewing and delivering her goods to the markets. Both of us learned skills that later developed within our own lives as we grew up.

            During this time, Nana was in her early sixties, but her spirit of self-less giving, kept her energetic. My grandmother had nothing, yet her goal in life was only to help other people, in whatever way she could.

            My fondest memories were, of her welcoming people to her home, with her baking or cooking. You could smell the aroma before entering her house.

            Sadly, Nana passed away in 1999, but those wonderful memories of her cooking and love for people, are what inspires my creations. I often wish that she could see my handy work today. I believe she would have been very proud.

            I bake and decorate cakes for any occasion, which is something that I personally call an “expensive hobby”.

            Art Thou Cakes About Ilaisaane

            Many would say that, it’s your passion that motivates you to get yourself out of bed every day, but for me, it’s what keeps me up to the wee hours of the morning, making those final little brush strokes, or dusting the final blush on a rose petal.

            I do all this to bring smiles to the faces of the people I make the cakes for, even if it doesn’t make me profit. Just like my Nana.

            Being Unique

            I love baking, but above all I love to transform ordinary looking cakes into unique pieces of art. I am not at all perfect, however, I learn from my mistakes and draw from the professionalism of other Cake Artists, to find the best, most valuable products and strategies for my ideas.

            You Can Be A Cake Artist too

            If you are bored with just the ordinary looking fondant/buttercream decorations, then try my tips and find your inner creativity. You do not have to be Picasso or have any artistic background – just a lot of passion and a love for fun.

            I will also share the products and services that I personally use, that have helped to enhance my skills.

            Purpose of this website

            This website will offer you free cake artistry tips and shared experiences. Feel free to share your own as well. I would love to hear from you.

            If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them below or email me.

            All the best,

            Cake Artistry Featured Image

             

            ilaisaane@artthoucakes.com