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With all of the cake and cupcake shows on television now, more and more people are starting to learn how to decorate cakes and cupcakes. It can be intimidating for a first timer to walk into a cake decorating or craft store to buy tools. Where do you start? What do you buy first? That's where I can help you.
To start baking cakes, purchase standard sized 8-inch or 9-inch round cake pans that are two inches high. They should be good quality for long term usage. I suggest purchasing 3 or 4 because there will be times when you need to make a three-layer cake and other times when you need to make two different flavor cakes at the same time.
Kitchen supplies needed for cake decorating include parchment paper to use as a liner for your cake pans and to use as disposable decorating bags. If you choose to use the disposable decorating bags, remember to purchase the couplers so that you can easily change the tips while decorating. A sharp knife allows you to trim the dome cleanly off your baked cake without tearing it. A spatula and small turntable allow you to ice your cakes like the professionals.
To start baking cupcakes, purchase a standard sized cupcake pan and a miniature sized cupcake pan. Miniature sized cupcake pans are the perfect size for little kids and cuts down on the amount of cupcake wasted. The standard sized cupcake pans are perfect for adults. Invest in cookie scoops as well to make it easier for you to control portion size and ensure even baking.
Cupcake supplies are inexpensive. Small and regular sized paper liners are easy to find as well as sugar crystals and sanding sugar used to sprinkle over your frosting. To add a shimmery effect on your cakes and cupcakes, use white edible glitter.
Basic buttercream cake decorating tools to start with include tips 3 (writing), 12 (large round tip), 21 (star tip), 104 (petal), and 352 (leaf tip). There are other tips on the market but these are the ones you will use the most.
You can create beautiful designs using these tips. Tip 12 can be used to create swirls or a continuous large ball shaped border. Tip 21 can be used to create top and bottom border designs as well as a complete side border of zig zags. Tip 104 makes ruffles, roses, rosebuds, drapes and bows. Tip 352 makes an extremely easy leaf and continuous wave design.
Fondant is the medium used to create designer looking cakes. It is actually easy to work with if you remember two things. First, after removing the fondant from its packaging, lightly coat your hands with shortening and knead the fondant smooth. You can then roll out to a 1/4-inch thickness on a non-stick mat. Second, if your fondant is too hard to knead, place it in the microwave at 5-10 second intervals on 50 percent power to soften it. Proceed to roll it out and use it to cover your cakes and cupcakes. For 8-inch round cakes, I roll out a 16" round circle using a 16-inch round cake board as a template. For 9-inch round cakes, I roll out an 18-inch circle using an 18-inch round cake board as a template. There are fondant tools - special mats, smoothers and other supplies to help you during the fondant covering process. I have found success using two fondant smoothers.
Cupcakes can be covered with 1-inch or 2-inch round disks of fondant that can be decorated with punch cutters. Punch cutters are used to cut out pieces of fondant and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. To start off you should purchase a set of daisy cutters, blossom cutters, and a standard sized leaf cutter. Wilton has a set of designer pattern presses that you s
hould also check out. They can be used on both cakes and cupcakes and make beautiful designs. Just practice using them before actually decorating your cake so that you know how much pressure to use to get a perfect design.
With these tips and techniques, you will be off to a great start as a cake and cupcake decorator. Most of all, remember to have fun.
Debra J. Mosely is the author of The Cake & Cookie Closet: All Dolled Up in Sugar. She's out to teach the world how to "dream in sugar." Tell your family and friends about her. http://www.thecakeandcookiecloset.com
Posted by Debra J. Mosely on October 31, 2013
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