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Sunday, July 11, 2010

So You Wanna Be a Creepy Cake Decorator?

The beginning is always a good place to start and since we (that’s you and me!) are learning some of this stuff together, I figure I’ll just give some basic decorating information so we are on the same page. Those of you who already decorate and are just here for the pictures… you can check out my flickr.

There are online tutorials that show a lot of this stuff, so whenever possible, I will post those so you can actually see a person decorating. Then, I hope you’ll go practice because you can’t get better of you don’t practice.

But even BEFORE basic decorating, what do we need to do? That’s right! Go Shopping!!!

You can’t decorate a cake with the back of a spoon or with a butter knife. That’s just not the kind of creepy we’re going for around here. So, here is a list of basic equipment and why you need it.

The Whats:

8-inch offset spatula [Wilton 13-inch]
4.5-inch offset spatula (rounded end) [Wilton 8-inch]
4.5-inch offset spatula (tapered end) [Wilton 8-inch]
Some companies measure the whole spatula, some only the blade. The smaller number is of course, the blade measurement.
small, sharp scissors that will ONLY be used for food or food preparation
(no hair cutting scissors here!)
pastry bags
decorating tips #10, #3, #21
professional turntable (don’t go away yet!)

Ok, let’s start with that. If you buy ONLY these basics you will be set back around $50.00. If you were to buy grocery store cakes, you would spend that much on just a couple of cakes. We have to be smart about this. All of these things should be purchased new EXCEPT the professional turntable. Buy one of those on eBay. They’re easy to clean up and if they have a few scratches or dings, who cares??? It’s going under your cake board. A new turntable will soak you for $60. I got mine for five dollars plus about seven dollars shipping because they are really heavy. If you intend to decorate more than one cake it will pay for itself. Don’t get lured in by the tilting turntable or the one that spins by itself. They will not work well for cakes larger than 8-inches and you’ll just be dissatisfied. Get the heavy-duty one!

The Whys:

8-inch offset
The 8-inch blade is the perfect length to ice the whole side of a cake. Shorter, and you will have lines. Longer, and your arm will get tired from having to hold your elbow at a higher angle while decorating.

4.5-inch offset (rounded)
I use this for mixing smaller batches of icing color, filling parchment bags (I’ll get to those later), and smoothing fillings in between cake layers

4.5-inch offset (tapered)
I use this for smoothing an area I have piped to fill a design with color and for quick fixes of things like, a speck of cake in your icing.

Small, sharp scissors
I use Fiskars 5-inch Non-stick scissors. They are VERY sharp, the blades taper to a sharp tip. I like that they are very small and don’t take up a lot of room in my case.

Pastry bags
I prefer the professional type disposables but unless you work in a bakery, they seem to be impossible to get. I also use Wilton disposable. They are smaller, shinier and more slippery than the professional bags but, they work. You can get a box of 100 for around $20. Pretty great when you don’t have to wash them!

Decorating Tips
I suggest you buy a Wilton or Ateco #10 round tip for piping borders (the higher the number the larger hole) plus a #3, if you’ll be writing with icing. Most people also like a #21 star tip for piping shell borders, so let’s go for that too. They run about $1 each. You can buy couplers if you want, they also run about $1 each. Sometimes, if I know I’ll be using multiple tips with the same color I’ll use a coupler, but mostly I just stick the tip in the end of the decorating bag and leave it there for the duration. Decorating tip sets end up being wasteful, usually. I have a $50 set and use maybe 3 or 4 of those tips. The standard types of tips (for flowers, ribbons, and leaves) can be purchased individually.


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