So, this past couple of weeks, I have been getting a lot of cake orders for birthdays, baby showers, and fundraising events. I never thought I would be a cake maker. Whenever I look at wedding cakes or themed cakes, they always look so daunting to me! Even though I have turned out some really nice looking cakes, there is so much I don’t know and so much more to learn. I want to learn how to make sugar flowers and how to “paint” pictures on fondant. Shoo, I’m no artist, but I try!
I thought I’d share with you the process of how I make a cake, and hopefully it won’t seem so daunting to you, either!
First, I start out with multiple layers of cake with frosting in between each layer. To make the cake layers even, I usually trim off any uneven surfaces with a bread knife. It’s really important that the cake is frozen when you are trimming your layers – otherwise your cake runs the risk of tearing, which is no bueno! So cover the room-temperature cake and pop it in the freezer for about an hour prior to trimming. Depending on the type of cake, fillings can be almost anything; I typically use Italian buttercream, whipped cream, mousses, citrus curds, fresh fruit or a combination of any of those.
No matter if you are just frosting the cake, or covering it in fondant, you still want to “crumb coat” your cake. This is covering the cake with a thin layer of frosting so that you seal in any crumbs of the cake edges and to also hide any imperfections when you do a final frosting or fondant covering. After crumb coating the cake, place the cake in the freezer (quick method) or refrigerator until the frosting hardens and you are ready to apply the final layer. I used to think crumb coating was a step that I could skip, but sorry kids – there are no shortcuts when baking! You get a much smoother surface and the cake looks way more professional!
Here is an example of a cake with proper crumb coating – if that thin layer of frosting was not applied prior to the final frosting, then the cake would bulge and you would be able to see every bump. So yeah, I guess a crumb coat serves as the “girdle” of a cake! Ha!
After doing the final coating of frosting or fondant, your cake is now a blank canvas ready to be decorated with whatever you or your customer desires! Here are some different styles of decor on cakes that I have made. Piping designs with frosting can make a cake fun looking or can hide parts of the cake that aren’t so perfect (oops!). Coating your cake with nuts, coconut, chocolate, etc. adds another dimension of flavor that compliments the cake and frosting. And a satin ribbon makes the cake more elegant and can tie into the theme or color of your party.
And finally, decorating with fondant can make a cake go from 2-dimensional to three, as well as create realistic decorations that can’t be done with frosting or royal icing. Personally, I like making fondant shapes because it reminds me of playing with Play-Doh as a kid…well, Play-Doh that you can eat…well, Play-Doh that is SAFE to eat! Don’t judge.
Now, who’s going to make a cake???