Yesterday I posted a how-to for icing. Today I am going to walk you step-by-step through how to decorate a cake. Today we are decorating a Diary of a Whimpy Kid Cake… but the principles will apply to any cake.
To start off, you need to bake your cake (duh… ha ha). I have found cakes that work for me, but you will have to work this out for you based on where you live (altitude, types of cakes available, etc.). I will tell you that for where I live I used a boxed cake, and I bake it at 25* less than what the box says.
Also, DO NOT open the oven while your cake is cooking. This will cause it to fall. Set your timer for whatever the mid-range of times is. So, if the box says 15-18 minutes I will set my timer for 16 minutes and check it. If it isn’t done, I will cook it for 2 more minutes and then check again.
So, here is my basic cake. (hint – I use Wilton’s cake pans. You can find them at Wal-Mart, Hobby Lobby, Target, etc.).
After you bake your cake you want to let it cool.
*see the crack in the top of my cake? We will address this later and how to “fix” it.
While it is cooling you should start gathering your supplies. I have pictures below of the supplies that I use.
<– Icing Tools : 2 flat spatulas and 1 angled spatula.
Toothpicks, Gel Icing Colors, and icing tips. —>
<– Gel Writing Icing. I usually use white, but since my cake icing is going to be blue, I got blue this time.
Icing bags, tips, and couplers.
I use reusable bags, but you can use disposable if you like. –>
STEP ONE: LAYERS
Okay, I didn’t put pictures of this because I did layers, but no icing in between them. For the layers, you will ice a band (border) on the top of one cake using a large round tip. Wilton’s has a good demo here.
Next, using a spatula plop some icing down and fill it in. In theory, the boarder keeps the icing from smooshing out the sides. You can use a thicker icing for this part if you wish (sometimes it hold up better).
*Wilton’s cake website has some great filling recipes and ideas if you need some inspiration.
NEXT STEP: Crumb Coat
The first step to decorating a cake is simple. The crumb coat.
It is exactly what it sounds like. It is a THIN coat of icing that seals in your crumbs. It’s super easy to make. Take about a half cup of your regular icing (could be more or less depending on the size of your cake),
add about 3 tbsp of milk to the icing and mix. The icing should be very thin, but not runny. If it’s runny add in a little more of the original icing. The idea is that when you put a spatula upright in your bowl it will not stand up.
Spread this over your entire cake as shown. When you are finished it should look like the covered cake below.
The crumb coat is good for covering cracks. Also, at this point, if you are using layers, you should try to fill in the spaces on the edges (between the layers) with icing. to help keep it even and uniform.
You want to let the crumb coat dry for about 10-15 minutes so that it will harden and get a crisp kind of layer on it.
NEXT STEP: TINTING THE ICING
Okay, this is another EASY step. Using a toothpick, drop a couple drops of color into your white icing. (If you are using several colors, make sure you separate out the white into batches so you don’t end up having to make a ton of icing). Then just mix it up, until it’s all blended up well.
I usually use a regular spatula as shown to mix the icing, but you can use an electric mixer. Just remember that the more you use a mixer the more air you put into the icing, which can cause problems later.
NEXT STEP: ICING IT!!!
Okay, you can see in this picture that I did another thinner coat in my icing color. My reason for this is because I don’t want to have any of the white crumb coat peeking through. (My icing color is much darker than this as you will see in the next pictures, but it looks lighter because it’s so thin. If you choose to do this step, let it dry again to harden up before adding your regular color.
Okay, next you will just plop the icing on and spread it out. This is where you will use your bigger spatula’s
to smooth the icing. I start with the top then do the sides, and then smooth it all out.
* I dip my metal spatula in warm water, then run it over the top of my icing to smooth it down… just don’t use too much water or it will mess up your icing. I basically dip it, let it drip off onto a towel so that the metal spatula is damp, and run it over the icing.
*I do my boarders last! 🙂
If you are going to do flowers or other things you can look here for how-to’s. I will post something later with my step-by-steps for this.
For now, I will show you how to do transfers.
Draw your picture or words onto wax paper or parchment paper. Using your writing icing from above (the tube), trace the design on the BACK of the wax paper. Gently lay the transfer onto your cake, then just use your bag of icing to trace over it and fill in. It’s really easy!! 🙂
As you can see on my cake below, I did the entire cake using this transfer technique.
Here is the boarder technique that I used. I forgot to take pictures of that!! OOPS… sorry!!
*This link tells you the tip size to use for the boarder.
So, that’s it. It’s really pretty easy. The tear drop tip at the beginning that is shown, is what I used for the book binding edge on the cake. All the rest of the cake was done with a small to medium sized round tip.