Decorating the cake, is not the completion or the finale. A true cake artist, looks at every aspect that will enhance the cake decoration, including how they are displayed.
Remember that cake artistry, goes beyond your normal iced cake and the odd topper. It is all about art and how best to display them for the pleasure of their viewers.
Today my post is going to give you a few tips for how to get your own creative ideas, for the best ways to display your cake artistry using cake boards, dividers and stands.
You see, the presentation of the decorated cake is just as important as how it tastes.
I often look back at my very first attempts at cake decorating and cringe at the thoughts, that I actually thought I was that good to even take a picture and share it on Bebo (lol this shows my age). At one time I thought, it would be best to get rid of those images and pretend that they never happened.
The worst cake I decorated was for my dad’s 70th. It was the first time I had ever created a large cake for a big function using fondant – I just about die now, when I see how badly I had covered the cake, or never bothered with the cake board. See my image and judge for yourself.
To make matters worse, I had left it so late, that I had to sneak up to the front table, behind the seated guests and put the final touches on in front of everyone – it was embarrassing and my mother gave me a look, that would have literally killed me on the spot.
My first lessons learned were that presentation was very important and to never leave everything (literally baked and decorated just hours before) to be done on the same day the cake is to be displayed.
Needless to say, I got a raving review at the end, about how delicious my Dad’s birthday cake tasted, so my actions were quickly forgiven.
Nowadays, I take just as much time creating my cake boards, as I do decorating my cakes.
What To Decorate Your Cake Boards With
There are many ways to decorate your cake boards and the ideas of design are vast. Here are a few things that can be added to create effective cake boards.
Using Fondant Before You Place Your Cakes:
- Roll the same colored fondant onto your cake board
- Create different textures on the fondant
- Use appliques and damask lace stencils, with a bit of pearl dusting to create wallpaper patterns on your fondant covered board
Using Buttercream and Royal Icing:
Both these icing techniques could be used to pipe edgings or different textured surfaces on to your cake board, I.e, grass layered cake board for a soccer ball, or a picnic blanket for a stuffed toy topper (made with gumpaste/fondant of course).
This will be the first time that I mention ribbons. Ribbons can be used as an additional decorative edging to a cake and also used with glue gun to stick to the edging of the cake board circumference as well, and goes very well with fondant.
Hand painted colors or dusts can be added also on to fondant to make amazing effects.
You can pour ganache straight on to your cake board, using the same technique that you use on your cake. Both normal and mirrored ganache can be poured on in the same way.
You actually do not need to overthink cake boards, however, the additional attention to them will give your cake decorations an extra zing.
Cake Board Covering Ideas
Here are some ideas that you can use for decorating your cake boards with:
- Grass – for sports themed cakes
- Blankets – baby themes or toddler cakes
- Cushioning effect for an engagement cake with rings as toppers
- Picnic blankets as mentioned above
- Quilts or cushions for baby shower
- Painted fondant
- Furry effects
- Pasted fondant shapes
- Stenciled Designs using an Airbrush
- Can create woven mat effects
- Use Fondant and Candied Rhinestones or Jewelry
- Create a Checkerboard appearance
- Create racing car or train tracks
- Snakes and ladder themes using edible wafer paper
- Create the same pattern design of a bridal wear
- Add music notes or polka dots
These are only a few things that you can do to enhance your cake board, and I am sure that you can think of many more on your own.
Very much like, with cake boards, paying attention to how your dividers are displayed is just as vital.
Stacked cakes do not necessarily require cake dividers, however, I get the occasional order for tiered cakes, in which the customer wishes to keep the cakes separate so that they can be handed out as gifts for guests.
This is the custom within Pacific Island cultures and I have seen how difficult it is for a clean separation when the cakes are stacked straight on top of the other. I myself prefer dividers in between only because, of the food handling aspect. Too many hands (unwashed) on the cakes are not good.
You will need to either buy “cake dummies” or cut some polystyrene ( I cut my own) to the same size of your cake/s (remember that each tier will be slightly larger with each lowered level).
Each of the following designs can be used:
Basic Fondant Covering
You can use fondant with the same colors and patterns of your actual cake designs and cover the “dummies” just as you would a cake. This is the simplest way of creating a divider.
Fabric or Cardboard
With the use of a glue gun you can stick a print or patterned fabric or thin card paper around the foam “dummies” and then cover each rounded end with thin cake boards of the same sizes.
You can also glue diamante or rhinestones and even have decorative edgings on top of your fabric or card paper, to add more bling, bling.
Flower arrangements have become a very modern and popular way of dividing stacked or layered cakes. They are easy but can be very expensive, because flowers have to be fresh and stems covered with foil or plastic so they do not seep into the cakes. The alternative of course (still expensive) are the fake realistic looking flowers – however these can look tacky and need to be very clean, or they attract dust.
Hotels and professionals use large metal frames to with plates that slide on to a pole for the cakes to sit on. I saw a video of this contraption and totally dislike it. It required the cakes each having a large hole in the middle and slid through the one large pole. You cannot remove cakes cleanly, and it was just a task putting the whole thing together.
Glass, Crystals or Clear Plastics
These are lovely when you view the whole display from afar, and I have seen many people use upturned wine glasses and a rose in each glass, used to hold up each tier.
I am quite wary of this because if your wine glasses are not made of real quality, guess what? they can crack and never mind about the cakes crashing, I am worried about some one eating any cake in the kitchen, without realizing there might be glass bits inside.
Crystals are beautiful, and something that I have used, however, rather than use wine cups, I use large crystal bowls and upturned with the cake board sitting nicely on top of the flat end.
For stability, I stick on self-adhesive foam tape so that the boards do not slip. The only problem though, is another cake board is required to be placed between the cake and the bowls.
Plastic bowls and cups can be used in the same way as glass and crystal but they will not glitter properly.
These columns can be bought as sets from that cake shops or craft shops. They have small holes that you insert a wooden skewer through, to be embedded into the cake.
You can create gum paste models and then stick wooden skews right through the top and through to the bottom and use them as columns to hold up the separate cake boards.
Again, the ideas listed above are only a touch of the extensive materials or items one can use. For example, I have seen an exotic wedding where they used mini fish tanks (yes, with actual fish inside, how cool is that!) to separate cake tiers. This was so long ago, so I could not remember where I saw it – otherwise I would have added an image for you here.
Cake stands, has both practical and decorative value for your cake decorations and as long as they do not take away from your main feature, which is the cake, a stand can add a lot of valuable.
I love using cake stands. I use them for displaying and beautifying.
Very much like cake dividers, a stand can be made or added from just about anything. My favorite thing to do is scrounge the internet for used goods, such as, garden ornamental stands that have different levels. I found a lovely Rimu wooden plant stand with three level branches, which I keep for displaying cup cakes or small tea cakes.
I asked (or forced my husband) into creating me three separate metal stands for larger cakes, with different heights, so that I can easily maneuver them around or lay a cascading silk fabric on top to hide the stands. Having these add versatility to my cake displays and they can be reused over and over for different occasions.
Roughly cut wooden logs also add a gorgeous effect for rustic looking cakes with a nature theme.
As you can see, each item that I have described add another decorative element to cake decorations and can give more height or depth (literally).
I challenge you to try decorating a cake board, adding a divider or creating a stand as part of your next cake design or cake order. Your customers will love the additional attention.
If you have any questions or would like to share your own creative ideas here then please leave a comment for me to reply to. Otherwise, follow me on any of my social media for more updates.
Until next time,