Cake Decorating Techniques

Cake Decorating Techniques

Even the simplest cake can be a creative monument when it's lovingly decorated for a special occasion. With our instructions—and a little patience and practice—you too can create beautiful special-occasion cakes like the one at right, which we created using pastry bags and sugar molds.

Cake Frostings and Icings

A beautifully decorated cake begins with a perfectly frosted surface. Before you plan your project, review our expanded frosting primer, which includes recipes and helpful hints. We recommend a buttercream frosting as a base. For special effects, you may also need Royal Icing.

Pastry Bags and Tubes

To Make Decorating Bags: You need at least one bag for each color icing you use. If more than one tip is used for a particular color, you'll need a bag for each tip. We used five bags for the birthday cake in the photo above.

Cut 12-inch square of waxed paper. Fold into triangle. Holding thumb at A, fold a cone making sure points at top overlap.
1. Cut 12-inch square of waxed paper. Fold into triangle. 2. Holding thumb at A, fold a cone making sure points at top overlap.
Fasten at top by folding over several times or taping. Cut off 1 inch at point. Drop tube into bag so that it protrudes at opening at bottom of bag.
3. Fasten at top by folding over several times or taping. 4. Cut off 1 inch at point. Drop tube into bag so that it protrudes at opening at bottom of bag.
Fill with frosting, not over 2/3 full. Close top by folding over 2 or 3 times and tucking in ends.
5. Fill with frosting, not over 2/3 full. 6. Close top by folding over 2 or 3 times and tucking in ends.

Squeeze frosting down to fill tube. Continue folding top down as tube empties.

DegreesTo Make Star Border: Use tip No. 21 and hold the bag at 90° angle to cake. Pipe out individual stars.

To Make Zigzag Border: Use tip No. 21 and hold bag at 30° angle to cake. Pipe out a continuous border.

To Make Leaves: Use tip No. 67 and hold bag at 45° angle to cake.

To Write: Use tip No. 3 and hold bag at 45° angle to cake.

rose nailTo Make Roses: Fasten a 1 1/2 inch square of waxed paper on center of decorating nail with a small dot of icing. Hold nail between thumb and forefinger in left hand, decorating bag in right hand. Rotate nail counter-clockwise as you apply pressure on decorating bag. Nail should rotate as petals are being formed. It takes practice; be patient.

Using top No. 104, make a dome of icing, holding tube straight down. With narrow opening of tube up for this and remaining steps, circle icing around dome, tilting tube at 45° angle.
1. Using top No. 104, make a dome of icing, holding tube straight down. 2. With narrow opening of tube up for this and remaining steps, circle icing around dome, tilting tube at 45° angle.
Circle icing up, around and down to make a high cone, tilting tube at 45° angle. Start half way up cone, pipe 3 petals around cone, holding tube at 90° angle.
3. Circle icing up, around and down to make a high cone, tilting tube at 45° angle. 4. Start half way up cone, pipe 3 petals around cone, holding tube at 90° angle.
Pipe 4 petals under first row, tilting tube at 45° angle. Finish with 5 to 7 petals around base of cone, holding tube at 30° angle.
5. Pipe 4 petals under first row, tilting tube at 45° angle. 6. Finish with 5 to 7 petals around base of cone, holding tube at 30° angle.

Use waxed paper to remove rose to plate. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes before removing from paper with knife to place on cake.

Sugar Molding

To Mold Sugar: Measure 5 cups Domino® Granulated Sugar into glass or ceramic bowl. Add 1 egg white or 2 tablespoons water. Rub mixture between palms until thoroughly blended and cohesive. Add more water if necessary. For various colors, divide into separate bowls, add a few drops food coloring to each bowl: rub again until color is evenly mixed. Keep bowls covered with damp towels.

Pack sugar very firmly into each dry mold. Level off surface with straight knife. Place piece of cardboard over mold and invert: lift off mold, tapping to loosen if necessary. If shape falls apart, sugar is too dry and needs a few drops more water. If shape sticks to mold, mixture is too wet and needs a little more sugar. Molds that are to be used repeatedly should be dusted with cornstarch.

Let shapes dry at room temperature for 45 minutes to one hour, until crust hardens. To hasten drying, place in sunlight or put in preheated 200°F oven 5 minutes. The shapes can be hollowed out with a teaspoon and the scooped-out sugar reused. The dampened sugar mixture can be kept for a few days in a tightly covered container for reuse.

Anniversary Cake

Anniversary CakeThe grand cake pictured on the left was created by Bo Friber, pastry chef of the California Culinary Academy in honor of the 75th Anniversary of C&H Sugar (our sister brand on the West Coast) in 1981. In designing this celebration cake, Chef Friberg chose a recipe that would be elegant to behold and, at the same time, within reach of the novice to prepare. Although the Anniversary Cake requires careful assembly and is composed of more parts than any of our other desserts, it can be done with patience. Each of the components can be prepared one or two days in advance and the entire cake can be put together early on the day of the party when there are no distractions. For spectacular results that will gratify the cook as well as the guests, read the directions several times before beginning and proceed one step at a time.