By: Helena Stallings, Culinary Arts Student
After baking your cakes, crumb coating them and covering them in fondant, decorating is the last and most fun step to the process. Covering your cake in fondant gives you a smooth, clean foundation to decorate upon and for many pastry chefs this is the step that gives them the most creative freedom. Baking is a strict science, much more so than cooking, so it is the decorating that turns a baker into a Pastry Arts chef. The tools you will need to decorate your cake is your cake table that rotates, a pastry bag and whatever size/style pastry bag tip you want to use. Most common pastry bag tips are medium sized star tips for borders and basic decorations and a small circle tip for writing. You will also need a store bought icing or buttercream to pipe onto your cake. Please watch the “How to Make a Swiss Buttercream” video if you need a buttercream recipe.
It’s generally a good rule of thumb to practice whatever decorations you would like to put on your cake on your table first. One of the joys of working with icings and buttercreams is that they are easy to clean up if you need to start over, but by practicing on the table first you will catch any problems with your piping bag or tip before you start decorating your cake. First you will fill your piping making sure to push all of your product to the bottom of the bag and tightly twist the top of the bag to create pressure. Depending on which is your dominant hand loosely hold the bottom of the bag and grab the top of the bag with your dominant hand. When you are piping you are applying pressure with your hand at the top of the bag and using the hand on the bottom to simply guide. Lastly, remember to have fun with your cake. Decorating should be an enjoyable task, so when you are practicing on the table try out several ideas and play with what kind of shapes and patterns different piping tips make.