Once you start cake decorating, you basically get trapped in it and you find yourself both excited and frustrated in the beginning. Excited, as cake decorating is so rewarding, but frustrated since you need so many tools to get the best results on your pastry.
There are many tools that are worth investing in, but some are essential and you might be surprised to have them already in your kitchen!
No matter how much they cost, a true professional cake pan is the first step to take when cake baking/decorating. A professional cake pan has straight sides so that the cake is straight on the sides.
Any bakers best friend is parchment paper. This paper is extremely versatile and may be used for cutting circles and placing them in the bottom or cake pans for a perfectly neat release every single time.
It’s better to have a piece of parchment to set the cake when you flip it over from the pan. This way it’s easier to cut off the top and decorate the cake as the parchment paper catches the mess and makes it easier for you to clean up afterwards.
When you cover the cakes in fondant, it’s very useful to place the cakes on large pieces of parchment paper so the fondant doesn’t stick to the surface or cause tearing. When you’re done with the covering of your cake with fondant, place your cake on another brand new piece of parchment. It’s far easier to move around the table the cake like this.
Keep in mind that parchment paper is not wax paper and they can’t interchange. Never place wax paper in the oven- unless you want to burn down your house J
Always use a sharp knife to release your cakes from pans. Run the blade around the edge (parchment paper on the bottom) and the cake should fall out when you flip it over.
If you plan to work with fondant, make use of a sharp, clean knife that cuts shapes, stripes and to work the details. Some knives are better than others for the precise lines and need to be handled carefully as they may cut even through silicone mats.
Every cake you bake needs its own cake board as this gives it stability and strength, holding it together. If you bake a large cake, get some help from a cake drum. This comes from 3 cake boards glued and pressed together, then covered in foil.
If you have the patience for a clean, elegant coat, get yourself an off-set spatula and a bench scraper. The off-set spatula eases up the spreading of your favorite icing and the bench scraper smooths this coat.
A paintbrush lets you add the right amount of water or sugar glue for the fondant decorations. If you really want to go professional, get yourself an airbrush for cake decorating.
The truth lies in the middle
You can’t have a cake without a turntable and the other way around. You can’t decorate a cake without a turntable, if not impossible at times.
When you work with fondant you know that air is its worst enemy. A few minutes might mean the drying of your fondant and the ruining of your cake. So…get some help from shortening and add some to your fondant to make it workable again. Never use water as it melts fondant!
As fondant tends to be sticky, it’s always a good thing to use powdered sugar or cornstarch on the surface to avoid the sticking. Each of them works and it’s handy to store it in a shaker for an even disperse while rolling out the fondant.
Typically, you find in stores fondant rollers in two sizes: the small ones are for small decorations, whereas the large ones go when covering the entire cake. Your current rolling pin might not be powerful enough to roll the fondant as thin as you need.
Another great tool is a fondant smoother which smooth the fondant and releases air bubbles from under the fondant. Don’t get cheap and buy yourself at least two of these.
Remember: Practice makes perfect and it’s up to you to get the best decorated cake ever. Every single time