5 Steps for Perfect Cake Decorating

For the professional baker, high quality and beautiful cake decorating is a necessary skill. Decorated cakes are some of the most popular items purchased at a bakery. Because consumers can purchase most baked goods at large grocery store chains, as well as the corner market, they may only be compelled to visit a bakery for specialty items that require talent and expertise,

skill, and experience. By improving your cake decoration skills, you will please customers and have them return to your baking establishment for every special event. Here are five important steps for perfect cake decorating.

Cool Cakes Completely

First, it is absolutely crucial to cool cakes completely on a cooling rack before you begin decorating the special event cake. There are two main reasons for this important step. First, cakes may change dramatically in shape during the cooling process. When cakes are removed from the oven, their moisture content is quite high. Steam within the pores of the cake can make them appear fuller or rounder. As the cakes cool, this moisture is lost, and the cake loses some of its shape. The second reason for allowing cakes to cool completely before decorating is the affect that even a warm cake can have on icing or frosting. Temperatures above room temperature can cause the sugar in cake frosting to melt or soften, which will result in a poorly decorated cake.

Level Cake Surfaces

When cakes have cooled completely, the decorating surface must be evened out with a large, flat cake knife or other cake trimming accessory. Every cake will be different, so it is important to line layers up and trim them so that they align perfectly. When you decorate a cake, any uneven surfaces will affect the smoothness of the finished product.

The Crumb Coating

After you've leveled the cake surface, it's time to apply the first layer of frosting or icing. This layer is often referred to as the crumb coating, and it is an important step in high quality cake decorating and is best accomplished using an icing spatula. The crumb coating is a very thin layer of icing that traps the crumbs into the cake and creates a smooth surface for continued decorating. Do not worry about aesthetics in this step. Simply ensure that the entire surface of the cake is covered in a thin layer of frosting.

The Secondary Frosting Layer

When the crumb coating has dried, you can ice the cake a second time. If you are using fondant, rather than frosting, you can prepare the fondant and press it smoothly over the surface of the cake. For a more natural appearance, use a heavy, thick frosting and spread it evenly over the entire cake. You can add contours and texture to the cake by tapping or pulling the frosting with a pastry knife.

Piping Decorations

The final step in cake decorating is piping decorations and colorful adornments on the cake. This step requires a great deal of skill and practice and there are many types of decorative piping tubes available. You can pipe decorations directly onto the cake, or you can create flowers and stars using a flower nail or waxed paper and then apply them to the cake.

These five steps will ensure that your finished cake is expertly and beautifully decorated to satisfy any customer.