Sunday, January 23, 2011

Striped Cake Trial

One of the things I've grown to love is cake decorating.  I love to cook...mostly bake...and last fall, my mom and I took a Wilton cake decorating class at JoAnn's.  It was tons of fun, and got me hooked.  I make a cake any chance I get now, making them for birthdays, holidays, parties, and just for fun.  I'm still an amateur and learning (mostly by trial and error).  My half-sister and niece were in town this past week and since Kelly's birthday was at the beginning of January, we had the chance to celebrate with her.  I immediately took the chance to make a cake!  I used my go-to recipe for cakes when I don't have to do a specific flavor.  I always use jelly as a filling and make two layers.  This time, I used Smuckers "Simply Orchard" Strawberry and it was delicious!  It tasted like homemade strawberry jam.  I have to say, even though it was still good, I was disappointed with the way it came out this time.  I don't know what it was yet...still trying to figure out what affected it.  Anyway...I was doing this cake as a surprise, so had no guidelines for decorating like I normally do when I make a cake.  I remembered seeing a cake on Food Network similar to this striped one a while back and thought it looked fun to try.

Well, I tried.  I think it's something that takes a lot of energy, stamina, and practice.  Here are some tips and steps to attempt this cake.  I think I'll be trying again when it hasn't been a long, exhausting day at work and it's earlier than 11:30 at night.  :o)

When you put icing into a decorating bag (or ziploc with the corner snipped off), fold the bag over itself about halfway. This helps you have room to get the icing all the way to the tip of the bag and also keeps your hand clean.  

I use a cake spatula to put the icing into the bag (you could also use a butterknife).   With the bag folded over like this, you can use your fingers to pinch the spatula at the top to slide the icing off and into the bag.  

Use a serated knife to cut off the "hump" left from baking.  It will make your cake level when stacked and also gives you something to snack on while you decorate.

It doesn't matter if they're the same height, as long as both cakes are relatively even.  choose the cake that has the smoother "bottom" surface to serve as the top of your stacked caked.  

Place the less smooth bottom on the cake stand or whatever you are serving your cake on with the cut side facing up.  Using your icing bag, pipe about a 1/2 inch tall "dam" around the edge of your cake.  This will keep the filling from oozing out the side and into your decorating icing.  

Here is that delicious jelly I was telling you about!  I use just enough to cover the surface and spread it just up to the edge of the icing dam.  You could add more or use less according to taste.  I also sometimes just pipe a spiral of icing in the center as opposed to jelly.  

Place the other cake crumb side down on top of your filling.  

When you ice a cake, start at the top with a HUGE glob, ice from the center out to the sides and push it over the edge.  

Once you have the cake covered with a thin layer, let it set for about 20-30 minutes.  Once it is hard, you can do another thin coat.  The first coat is called the "crumb coat" because you usually pull crumbs into your icing when you do it the first time.  If you let it set, you can add another layer of icing without pulling out crumbs so that you will not have crumbs in your final coat.  

While the second coat is setting, mix your colors.  I used store-bought liquid food coloring this time and HATED it.  You have to use a ton, you end up over-mixing the icing which makes it super stiff, and you don't get the colors you want.  I recommend getting the gel food coloring.  MUCH easier to work with.  

I used a small round bowl I had to indent a circle in the center of my cake so that I could make sure my stripes were evenly sized.

Now that I have a guide line, I can begin decorating.  The indentation will be covered with icing later.  

Using my stiff icing, I tried to make even stripes around.  I tried to do all one color, but soon realized it's easier to just switch bags while decorating, start on one side, and work your way around.  Now I know for next time.  

I wanted to do more stripes than this, but since I put orange on first, didn't have room.  Also, it was about 12:30 and I was tired.  :o)

I added a shell border to the bottom and piped stars on the top of the stripes to cover my uneven and messy ends.  

Using a small tip, I piped the lettering in the middle of the circle I left on top.  

This was definitely a learning cake.  I would definitely use this design again, but with some adjustments.  I won't use liquid food coloring again.  I will just start on one side and work my way around.  I also need to adjust my cake and icing recipes, because they both turned out less than desirable for me this time.  Hopefully I'll be able to post again soon with a better attempt!

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