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Tips & Tricks for Cake Decorating

Want your cake to have a sheen on it?

Once you've finished and happy with everything, grab your can of cooking oil spray. Spray quickly over the entire cake and you'll be left with a professional and slightly shinny finish.
Thanks Sherryn for this tip!

Looking for a Dairy Free Recipe?  

I was given this recipe and I also had the pleasure of trying the cake, yummo!

This cake is a rich, sweet treat that is absolutely phenmoneal with a light icing like this vanilla icing or other dairy-free frosting of your choice.

Makes one 2-layer cake: Prep Time: 10 minutes, Cook Time: 30 minutes, Total Time: 40 minutes

1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
4 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2 T. almond milk, soymilk or rice milk
½ cup olive oil
6 T. dairy-free soy margarine, melted
Juice and zest of 1 lemon

1. Preheat the oven to 175 C. Lightly oil one 22cm cake pan. Lightly flour the pan, tapping out the excess flour, and set aside.
2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until the mixture is pale yellow in color. Add the non-dairy milk alternative of your choice, olive oil, melted soy margarine, lemon juice and zest, whisking until well combined. Add the dry ingredients, stirring until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes. Immediately turn cake out onto a wire cooling rack and allow cake to cool, right-side up, completely before icing with dairy-free frosting of your choice.

Tutorial on decorating with fondant
I found this little tutorial on www.satinice.com.  If you have a little look in their website you may also find some other cool ideas.


WHAT is Fondant?
Fondant, or ready to roll fondant as it is sometimes called, is the smooth icing that usually covers wedding cakes. Not to be confused with Marzipan or almond icing.
Fondant has a marshmallowy taste and can be put on top of a buttercream or ganache covered cake. 

WHY use Fondant?
Fondant is great for giving cakes that smooth and professional look. You can do virtually anything with a fondant covered cakes, the possibilities are endless! As well as looking good, fondant also helps keep your cake moist for longer, once you cover a cake in fondant it is sealed and will last up to one week (depending on your filling).

HOW do you use Fondant?
You'll need to start with cake, try to use a recipe you know and trust. Once the cake is fully cooled down, cover with either buttercream or ganache. If you're making a cake with filling that needs to be refrigerated then you shouldn't be covering it with fondant.  If you have time to freeze the cake before icing it, you may find the cake more solid and therefore easier to ice.... but remember it'll take about 6 hours to de-frost properly.

Next you will need to roll your fondant and cover your cake. Lightly dust your bench with a mixture of cornflour and icing sugar before rolling out fondant.
Put a small amount of piping gel or sugar syrup or thinned jam on the iced cake before covering with fondant to ensure it sticks.
Once cake is covered, smooth over the fondant with either fondant smoothers or using your hands. If you have long nails you will probably regret having grown them while cake decorating, they can be a real pain if you scratch your cake!

Now you are ready to decorate your cake as you please! There are so many possibilities! 
You can cut out flowers and other shapes from cookie cutters and stick these onto your cake using a tiny amount of vodka and a paintbrush to "glue" to your cake.

Useful tools:
Rolling pin
Fondant smoothers – once the cake is covered use these to smooth out any bumps on the cake. Alternatively, use your hands, but beware of your nails!
Dust puff – you can make this yourself by using a clean Chux cloth and filling it equal parts with icing sugar and corn flour then secure with a rubber band. You can also use a paper towel with some holes poked in the bottom. I use this to lightly dust down my surface before rolling out fondant or when my fondant gets a bit too moist.

***thanks to Lydia Bakes for inspiration 

Conversions and Good Old Fashioned Home Cookery.
Have a look at 'Ladies a Plate' the website http://ladiesaplate.co.nz/.  Alexa who runs the website is a cook book writer and has just recently started writing for Taste Magazine.  Take a wee look at the 'helpful hints' tab and soak up the knowledge.  Alexa also sells some beautiful books and has a stock of  failsafe, tested recipes.

Using Gel Colours
Use a toothpick to add colour to your icing/mixture and use a new toothpick each time you dip into the Gel.  

Remember you can add more, you can't remove colouring.

How to get Black Icing
Start by using chocolate icing then use black gel colour - Americolor Super Black is great! .  It will take less food colouring to achieve black.

Rose icing for Cupcakes
Check out this instructional video on how to Pipe a Rose Swirl.  Thanks to Lydia Bakes for this clip.

Check out more of Lydia's ideas and projects on her Blog http://www.lydiabakes.com/

Why Use Room Temperature Eggs: 
With room temperature eggs, the whites and yolks will combine easier when whisking.  This means that the eggs will disperse more evenly into the batter, making for a lighter texture.

A Fast Way to Get Your Eggs to Room Temperature:
It's best to use room temperature eggs when baking, this means taking them out of the fridge about 30minutes prior to adding them to the mixture.  However if you forget and need to bring them to room temperature quickly, place them in a bowl of warm water for about 5-10minutes.

Preparation is the Key:
Find all your ingredients before you start and have them ready to mix in, this way you won't have to go searching through your cupboards to find something part way through your mixing (or shooting out to the grocery store).

Peaky Cakes:
If your cake peaks in the middle, the outside of the cake is cooking faster than the middle.  When the middle stars to cook, it rises and pushes up.  If this happens, it's likely your oven is too hot.  Try getting an oven thermometer to test the heat of your oven or turn the oven down and cook for longer.  Fan baking increases the temperature as well, try turning the oven down about 20°C. 

Turn the Oven on First:
Turn your oven to the temperature required before starting.  By the time you've finished mixing everything, the oven will be hot enough.

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