Monday 6 February 2012

Cake decorating fun

For Christmas, happily, I received rather a few books. This little treasure found its way under my tree, and truly is one of the best cake decorating books I have come across for a while. Some of the techniques seem way too complicated for me, or rather require more skill than I possess, but whether or not you feel up to the more complicated techniques this book provides some great inspiration, and certainly opened my eyes to some new techniques that didn't sound too difficult. The first that I tried out was using cake stencils, and I have to say I was pretty pleased with the result.

Having perused the internet for some pretty stencils I found that they are actually quite pricey (some of them were about £24 for just one stencil), and what I really wanted was for something a bit cheaper to get me started. Luckily, in my local bookshop I came across a set that had eight stencils in and only cost £13! One of the stencils shown on the front seemed like a good choice for the cake I had in mind, and so I bought them, studied my cake decorating book some more to make sure I did it right, and gave it a go. I admit I was initially somewhat put off by the
images on the front, which look to me a little
dated, but once I'd opened it up and seen the stencils themselves I could not have been more happy, and with my trusty cake decorating book to hand I was confident I could make a lovely looking cake.

I set to work baking my cake. I'm sure most cakes would be fine to use (any that are tasty with icing anyway), but I just made a basic sponge as it was for a birthday cake.

To save you trawling through old posts, here's my recipe:
  • Line an 8 inch baking tin, and pre-heat your oven to gas mark 2 or 3 (depending on the make).
  • Cream together 8 oz./225g Stork with 8 oz./225g caster sugar.
  • Beat in 4 large eggs.
  • Gradually fold in 8 oz./225g self raising flour.
  • Pour the mix into cake tin and bake for around an hour.
To decorate, cut the cake in half (once cooled), cover one half with buttercream icing (keeping some to spread on the outside of the cake to make the roll out icing stick), and the other half with raspberry jam, and sandwich together.

I then kneaded my roll out icing on a lightly dusted surface (with icing sugar), and added some green food colouring, kneading until a light green, even colour was created.

I spread the remainder of the buttercream on the outside of the cake, and placed the icing on top, smoothing the edges, and cutting to size.

Finally, onto the new and exciting part. First, I made up some black royal icing (either mix an egg white with icing sugar, or buy royal icing sugar and follow the instructions on the packet). It needs to be really quite thick, so it doesn't run. This next bit was one of the more nerve-wracking moments in baking, placing the cake stencil on the top of the cake, and using a knife spreading the black icing all over the top (holding the stencil in place as much as possible). You can imagine my delight when pulling back the stencil to reveal this lovely picture (and no, it didn't come out absolutely perfectly, but I was more than happy with it, and relieved that there wasn't a massive blob of black icing on the top of my lovingly baked and iced cake).

Everybody seemed very impressed with the cake, and I admit I felt a bit of a fraud as it was much simpler than people seemed to think. It's a great technique, especially if you are short on time, and very effective. To get a bit more complicated/creative you could try adding different colours to the stencil, or even trying to make your own (I think my cutting is a bit too clumsy for this, but hopefully one day).

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