As a long time cake decorator, I’ve watched the cake trends change over the years. Like fashion, the older techniques, like piping, have come back in style. What has changed permanently is the interest level in this craft. When I grew up, no one I knew did it. Now, cake decorators are wide spread and the vast community is made up mostly of home decorators. Years ago, you could not even find a bakery that went beyond piping the easy shell border on a cake. Today, the craft has turned into an art form and the mediums have gone well past cake and frosting.
Today, there are so many new tools being manufactured to make once painstakingly difficult and time consuming tasks very easy. Most cake decorators I know love collecting decorating tools. For us, they are like candy and the more fun the tool, the more you have to have it. Technology has even brought into our homes some of the tools once only used by large bakery establishments. Now anyone can use a printer to print out icing sheet designs to incorporate into the cake design. Those same designs, when taken to an electronic cutting machine, become beautiful decorations that are cut with precision; something that could otherwise take days to do by hand.
We once only worked with buttercream and royal icing. Buttercream was native to the U.S. and royal icing more popular in England. Fondant was used in England years before it made it to our coast, but is increasing in popularity due to its flexible nature. Alongside fondant in sculpting ability, come gum paste and modeling chocolate. Both of these mediums are used to create figures and flowers and any other type of design that needs to stand up. Icing sheets are thinned out, paper-like sheets of icing which lend themselves very nicely to printing with edible ink and cutting into all sorts of shapes. They are either applied directly to the cake or to other mediums to create decorations that are added to the cake.
One of the simplest mediums to work with for the beginner is the icing sheet. Fondant takes some time to get used to before the cake will come out bump and line free, but icing sheets are flat like paper and can be designed with a tool as basic as scissors. If you want to take them to the next level of design, a cake printer is as easy to operate as a regular printer, except it uses food coloring cartridges.
Newbies should still master proper cake construction and learn to frost a cake until it’s perfectly smooth before trying to take on the more difficult mediums. Bumpy icing and a crooked cake will ruin the look of a fondant covered cake, so it’s important to get everything beneath the fondant even before covering the cake. Start simple and add a few new skills at a time. Before long, you’ll surprise yourself with the ease of working with some of the great tools on the market.
Theresa Happe is a cake decorator and fan of Icing Images where you will find a wide array of edible printing supplies such as icing sheets, cake printers, and edible ink.
Photo Credit: Rexness (CC BY-SA 2.0)
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