People complain about the cost of cakes – how could ANY cake cost $200? $500? $1000? Cake decorating takes FOR-EVER, and beautiful cakes are expensive for that reason – they are one thousand times more beautiful than a cake off the shelf at your local supermarket. If price is your concern, go to Woolworths and buy a $10 chocolate cake. Cake decorating is a labour of love that takes time, patience, and skill. Beautiful cakes are works of art.
It is difficult to make much money off cakes unless, you are producing them regularly with a business-like efficiency. Or you have a show on Lifestyle-You (I hear that pays not-too-badly…). So, next time you sneer with disgust at the thought of a $200 cake – let me tell you this: chances are that your $200 is literally just covering the cost of ingredients and tools. The twenty plus hours that some poor person spent making it happen – they were free.
Which brings me to my latest cake! I have been accumulating a list of things I wanted to try my hand at once uni and work calmed down (stencilling with my new airbrush system, quilting, ruffles, and making ruffled fantasy flowers) because I JUST NEVER HAVE THE TIME! So I took Mothers Day as a great opportunity to make a cake (for my beautiful Mum of course!) that combined all these things.
The cake was a 6 inch extended tier (essentially 2 6-inch tiers stacked on top of each other) but I used a cake dummy for the bottom tier because I didn’t want to be eating it for two weeks. Including baking, ganaching and decorating I reckon it probably took about 12 – 15 hours. [So, if I were to be paid what I could earn elsewhere for my time – say $20 an hour – this measly 6 inch cake would probably cost you close to $300 including expenses… Um WHAT!?]
For a cake dummy simply cover it with crisco, and cover it as a normal cake! Eliminates baking and ganaching time – and looks super realistic. I always round the top edges of mine with a bit of sandpaper so the icing doesn’t tear.
This and this are good tutorials for achieving ruffles. Essentially, you need a frilling tool, a foam pad, and strips of fondant (you may want to add some tylose for strength). I used my wilton strip cutter but you can also use pasta machines or circle cutters. You move the frilling tool back and forward in short sections along the strip of fondant (watch the video or read the tutorial for a better description!).
You cover the cake as normal, and then attach the ruffles to the icing until the whole cake is covered. Because there is so much icing involved, I thought it was good to do this on the foam dummy. Nobody would want to eat all that icing – it would just be peeled off and thrown away.
This took me about 2.5 – 3 hours on a 6 inch cake. It is time consuming, but it does look pretty amazing! (AND it hides any crappy spots on your icing underneath!)
Stencilling with an Airbrush
I got a dinkydoodle airbrush system for Christmas and wasn’t quite sure how to make good use of it. I love the look of stencilled cakes but the royal icing method seemed messy and time-consuming so I bought a filigree stencil to try it with.
It worked well – however the colour does tend to bleed (slightly) into the icing around it so the shapes are not AS sharp as I imagine they would be if you use royal icing. But that said, it is still incredibly effective. In fact, depending on the cake, it may even be a more appropriate effect. Also, because I was bending a small and intricate stencil around a circular cake, some of the little tiny stencil bits wouldn’t lie flat against the cake, so inevitably some of the airbrush residue landed in those gaps. I think it would have been more successful with a square cake. I will keep you posted! But I was really happy with the outcome regardless.
I love flowers but I am BAD at flowers. They are fiddly and time consuming – and I maintain that they require a certain degree of natural flair I just don’t posses. But THESE flowers are very forgiving – and I think they look amazing! They are certainly much more “modern” looking than traditional fondant flowers like roses, and one thousand times easier to make.
I googled a few different tutorials to get an idea, and then just kind of made it up as I went. I used frilly circle cutters in about 3 different sizes, and cut 3 layers of each size from tylose-mixed fondant. I frilled the edges with a balling tool on a foam pad, and let them semi-dry in different shaped trays and cups (use foil over the top of a glass pushed down into a shallow dish shape – dust it with a bit of cornflour and it provides a perfect flower moulding cup for FREE).
After they had dried for a few hours, I pushed them into the other and attached them in a stack with edible glue. I used cachous for the centre.
I love quilted cakes. I think they are simple but classy and effective… and “a little bit fancy.” I have been meaning to try one for a while but couldn’t decide between quilting cutters or mats. I settled on a mat from Cake Emporium – you can buy the same one here. You lay it flat against the side or top of the cake you want to imprint and rub your fondant smoother over it. When you pull it off, you will find the impression is quite light. I like this as it means if I mis-align it, I can re-smooth the fondant and start again. When you have the impression right, grab a (clean) ruler and use it to imprint the lines as deeply as you want them. I then used a balling tool to make grooves for the cachous where the diamonds met.
Peace and love, cake friends!