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Cake Decorating

I have always avoided the simple act of frosting a cake. Well, I just completed the four week Basic Course in the Wilton Method of Cake Decorating. Now I can not only frost a cake but I can make it look like a bakery-bought one, too. This week I'm going to share the great tips on getting the cake ready to decorate. Next week we'll talk about the icing and some of the different tips and what they do. Plus I'll tell you about all the mistakes, yes, "mistakes!" I made on my first cake.

Tips, Hints, and Comments

  • Wilton recommends Duncan Hines cake mixes because the batter volume is the same every time. Several people in class said their favorite flavors were French Vanilla and Swiss Mocha.
  • Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of Wilton Meringue Powder; it makes the cake rise higher.
  • In preparing the cake pans, use a 2 inch wide paint brush to "paint-on" the vegetable shortening. Then dust with the flour. If any area is still shiny, "paint" with more shortening and dust with flour.
  • Don't fill cake pans more than 1/2 full.
  • Let your completely cooled cake rest in an airtight container a day or overnight before icing it.
  • Use a cake leveler or a serrated knife to cut off mounded top of cooked cake. Invert cake and use a wide paintbrush to brush away any crumbs.
  • When icing the top of the cake use a lot of icing. Don't let your spatula touch the cake. You'll get crumbs in the frosting.
  • Have trouble icing the sides of a cake? Wilton has a tip, no. 789, that's made just for it.
  • After icing the cake, let it rest at least 15 minutes. Smooth out the cake using parchment paper. Place the parchment paper on the cake and gently smooth out the icing.
  • Only bought a one layer cake mix? Torte it. Slice the cake horizontally. Create a dam with a ring of icing (made by squeezing icing from a decorating bag through a tip) on the outside edge of the first half of the cake. For the filling, use a child's size container of snack pudding. Spread it inside the ring of icing. Put the top half of the cake on and ice as usual.
Cake Decorating, Part II

Part I dealt with general tips on making the best cake for decorating. In this week's feature, I'm going to give you some "tips" on the tips, decorating tips that is, I learned during the four week Basic Course in the Wilton Method of Cake Decorating. Part III is the conclusion of this series. Along with my course conclusions will be photos of the cakes I decorated plus I'll confess to all the mistakes I made on my first cake. Let's start this feature with the Wilton Buttercream Icing recipe I got from the class instructor, Cindy Ruff.


Wilton's Buttercream Icing Recipe
1 lb. (1 box) confectioners 10X sugar (Domino was recommended)
1 tablespoon Wilton Meringue Powder
1 cup solid vegetable shortening (Snowdrift was recommended because it's the whitest)
2 tablespoons water, warm
1/2 teaspoon white popcorn salt
1 teaspoon Wilton's clear vanilla extract
1 teaspoon light Karo syrup
icing colors

Sift the confectioners sugar and meringue powder into a large mixing bowl and set aside. Cream the shortening. Dissolve the salt in the warm water. Add the water and extract to the shortening and mix. Gradually add the sugar, no more that 1 cup at a time, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl. With a hand mixer, mix for 5 minutes on medium speed. With a stand-up mixer, mix on low for 2 minutes.

For the three different icing consistencies:

The above recipe will give you your stiff consistency. After mixing, remove 1 cup for make flowers.

To the remaining 2 cups add 2 teaspoons of water. Remove 1 cup for borders and flowers with petals that lie flat.

To the remaining 1 cup add 1 teaspoon of light Karo syrup. This will give the icing more elasticity for icing the cake.

The Wilton icing colors are very concentrated and can be easily combined to make other colors. To use the colors, open the jar and take a flat toothpick to poke a hole through the foil. Streak your icing with the color from the toothpick. Use a different toothpick each time as to not contaminate the icing color jar.

1. To use entire recipe for icing, after mixing ingredients together, add an additional 2 tablespoon of liquid.
2. Icing may be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen for 2 months.
3. For a better tasting icing, substitute 1/2 of the shortening for butter. Substitute milk for the water. If this is for practicing, stick with all water and shortening, it holds better.
4. To ice and decorate a two-layer 8-inch cake, double this recipe.


Tips on the "Tips"

I have tips # 16, 21 and 2010. Tips #16 and 23 came in the Course One decorating kit. These, by far, are my favorite tips. They are the most forgiving, you can easily correct your mistakes. The star tips are so easy to use. It's like taking dancing lessons. Fill your bag with medium icing. Hold your bag straight up and down. Squeeze to the count of 1-2-3. Stop squeezing and lift up. You get a perfect star every time. I bought tip #2010 also because it makes 3 stars at one time. With the star tip you can decorate an entire cake with nothing but stars, covering the cake completely. Wilton sells everything you need to make Character Cakes. There are cake pans shaped like popular characters, like Barney(tm). Since Barney(tm) is quite colorful, there are also special icing colors to buy. The best thing about these cakes is that they are just a big pattern you fill in with stars. This tip is also used to make rosettes, shell and zigzag borders.

I have the #2D tip, which came in the kit. It looks similar to a star tip but it's much larger and the prongs on the end bend in towards the middle. Drop flowers are flowers that lay flat on the cake.

I have tips #3 and 12. Tip #3 has a small round hole, which is perfect for writing and making stems. Tip #12 has a large round hole and is used to make a rose base.

I have tip #104, which is used to make the petals on a rose. It's also used to make sweet peas (flowers that have three petals that fan-out) and bows.

Tip #67 also came in my kit. This tip is for making leaves on your cake.


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