A master pastry chef demonstrates six easy techniques
H ave you ever wanted to try cake decorating but been scared away by the impossibly perfect swags and rosettes that you see in magazines, on television, and in bakery display cases? Well, with the right teacher, turning out a gorgeous creation is easier than you might think. We asked Toba Garrett, an instructor at New York's Institute of Culinary Education and the author of The Well-Decorated Cake , to come up with a foolproof introduction to this rewarding art. Her secret? Easy-to-master techniques that produce impressive-looking results and can be used in a variety of different ways.
"I always tell my students, 'Enjoy yourselves! There's no reason to be intimidated,'" says Garrett. It's easy to relax after watching these videos, in which Garrett uses three simple decorationsa basket weave. star flowers. and a reverse shell border to create a stunning cake. Plus, she demonstrates three additional techniques: rosettes. fleurs-de-lis. and garlands. Mix and match the various decorations to make your own unique cake. For Garrett's tips, recipes, and step-by-step video demonstrations, read on.
cake decorating tips:
- Stock Up on the Basics
Fancy equipment can be purchased later, but a few tools are essential: several featherweight pastry bags, a set of decorating tips, couplers for changing tips, an offset spatula for spreading frosting, and food coloring in basic colors (gels blend best with buttercream icing and
are more intense than liquid; basic colors can be combined to produce other shades). A turntable or lazy Susan will also make the process easier. Note: To order the cake supplies mentioned in this article, go to wilton.com .
- Choose Your Components
Frosting-and-cake combinations are nearly limitless. In our videos, Garrett uses Decorator's Buttercream Icing. a classic recipe with a simple, sweet flavor that's extremely versatile. For a more sophisticated, rich flavor, use Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Chocolate Buttercream is another option, but it cannot be tinted with food coloring. For the cake, use one of the recipes Garrett shared with EpicuriousChocolate Fudge Cake and Moist Yellow Cake or search our database for more than 100 layer cake recipes .
- Rehearse for the Main Event
Before tackling the cake, practice on a plate to gain confidence. Frosting can be scooped up and reused as long as it's rebeaten every half hour to maintain elasticity.
- Perfect Your Technique
Throughout piping, periodically twist the top of the bag and apply gentle pressure to push the frosting down toward the decorating tip. This helps eliminate air bubbles and ensures that an even stream of frosting comes out of the tip. Also, inspect the decorating tip regularly, wiping away any frosting buildup, which could interfere with your decorations.
Cake photos by Steven Torres
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