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.
- 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)
- Edible spray paint
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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,