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Beginner Cake Decorating Questions

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Fondant flower and coloring
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Cake decorating is should be fun and sometimes it seems like corners can be cut because it is cake not rocket science. Unfortunately this is not usually the case. Many first time or new cake designers end up with questions when things go wrong or simply do not turn out exactly how the end product is envisioned. Here are some questions that came up recently at an open house event which might also be topics that all cake decorators find useful.

How long will a frosted cake keep in the fridge or freezer?

Sometimes it is beneficial or convenient to prepare a cake ahead of time and in most cases a frosted cake will be fine in the fridge for up to a week if well wrapped and not stored near anything aromatic like garlic when frosted in buttercream. This timeframe also depends on the type of cake as well. For example, a delicate genoise will get dry when stored too long and a carrot cake will be more forgiving.

A cake can also be stored in the freezer as well if it is wrapped tightly for about two months. The tradition of keeping a cake for a year for the first anniversary is very nice but the cake might not be very palatable after that long in the deep freeze.

How do you create an even stencil pattern all around a round cake?

Getting a pattern perfectly adhered to the sides of a round cake can be as tricky as hanging perfectly spaced wallpaper in an oddly spaced room. There is no single technique that works best for this process. Depending on the size of your cake you might be able to wrap the entire pattern stencil around the whole circumference. The edge might still be imperfect and a nice string of icing beads to mask the edge can be very elegant. Worse comes to worse you can simply turn the cake so the unblemished pattern is showing and the edge is to the wall!

If you need to cover a larger area very careful measuring of pattern segments is necessary and placing reference marks on the cake for each length. This can be tricky so try the method on a practice cake first.

Is there a trick to applying dragees on cakes?

Pretty dragees can be used to great effect on cakes as strings of pearls, centers in quilting or to make tiny delicate flowers. If you need precise placement there is no easy way to apply dragees. You need to have a steady hand and a pair of tweezers to do the job effectively. Simply pick up a dragee and apply it to the correct position on the cake with a tiny dab of icing or edible glue.

These decorations can be used more casually scattered on the surface of a cake as well. If this is the effect you require simply take a small handful of dragees and let them fall where they may or press them onto the cake sides where you want them.

Can you use a satin ribbon on a cake?

A cake wrapped in shiny ribbons can be elegant or whimsical depending on the color and style of the ribbon. Attaching a ribbon to a cake can be done in several ways depending on the cake covering. If you are using a satin ribbon on a buttercream covered cake you have to be very careful because the satin can be ruined by the grease and moisture in the icing. You can use satin backed with waxed paper or contact paper to prevent discoloration and attach the ribbon with a small dot of royal icing on the seam. You then need to cover the seam with a decoration to camouflage the seam. If possible try to use ribbons made from fondant because it is easier to work with and edible!

Can cream cheese icing be left out?

Cream cheese icing is delicious and compliments many types of cake flavors but it can be perishable. If you have a cake frosted either inside or outside with cream cheese icing you can only leave it at room temperature for under four hours. Keep this limitation in mind when planning your cake especially in the summer months.

Do fondant flowers always end up either sagging or flat?

Fondant is a pliable easy to use medium for flowers and other decorating elements but it will always fall flat if it is not allowed to dry completely. Completely! You must let both sides of your fondant flowers to dry for at least a week before using them and do not use moist buttercream for centers after they are dry. Fondant is not the best choice for three dimensional objects like figures because it does need so much time to dry.

Is fresh fruit or jam a good choice for cake filling?

Fresh fruit and jam seem like great combinations with vanilla cake or chocolate cake but sometimes using too much can result in an unstable cake construction. Jam can soak into cake layers making them soggy and too much fruit can make the juice bleed through the icing or make the top cake layer slide right off. If you want a lovely fruit accent for your cake consider using flavored buttercream instead or topping the cake with fresh fruit.

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