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Hungry? Decorate a Cake…

25 Dec

Today, I returned home from the gym with one very important task in mind, decorate my cake. It was 11am, and I needed to have everything ready for both Christmas Eve festivities as well as Christmas Day fun by 3pm. In all the hustle and bustle, I spent 2 hours decorating this cake, and forgot to eat lunch. Therefore, my lunch was all the delicious, “mandatory” frosting tasting… And I’ve now decided that decorating a cake might as well be a meal – albeit a sugary, caloric, nutrient-rich free meal. Also, as promised, I have pictures today!

Frosted Chocolate Cake

After my crumb coat, see previous post here, I was able to pull off this beauty…somehow. Being that this was my first time and I’m a beginner when it comes to baking, I was quite impressed. To decorate, I used a Wilton Decorating Kit that I picked up a couple years ago from Joanne Fabrics, probably with a 40% off coupon, knowing me!

The kit boasts a 25 piece ensemble – but 12 of those items are disposable decorating bags. The other 13 items are 2 couplers, 5 tips, 4 colors, a flower tool, and illustrated how-to booklet (which I’ve never read…).

First, I tried some practice piping, after watching countless videos on youtube. A shoutout to this video here for teaching me exactly how to pipe – although I watched over ten videos, and about ten years worth of food network too… Keep in mind that a lot of these videos use different types of icing which will affect the overall final look of your piping skills.

After that, I started with the borders. I was pretty pleased with the way it turned out. I was bummed to find out that I only had my small star tip, since a larger star tip would have created a larger shell border.

Next I added the same border to the top of the cake and also some red piping on the side with a flower tip. For writing, I used what I was comfortable with – a ziplock baggie snipped at the corner. I wrote in cursive since I’ve recently learned its easier to write on cakes using a fluid motion. After that I added some swirls with more chocolate icing, and then added some red dots. But at this point, I needed some green in the picture. It was just too red and white.

So along came another ziplock baggie with green frosting. After working with piping bags and tips, the baggies just don’t operate the same. I’ve upgraded to pastry bags and now I can’t use my old standby – oh well! I couldn’t keep the pressure going, so you’ll see the lines get a bit crazy at times. Here is my final finished product. My first attempt at decorating a cake, in a semi-professional manner that is…!

And it made it all the way to church, to my parents house, and inside for our celebration later that evening. Didn’t smudge it one bit!

You can actually see the side of the cake in this shot. It was a fun project and I can hardly wait to have an excuse to decorate another cake!

For recipe lovers:

Buttercream Frosting

3 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream together butter and sugar, and then add in milk. Stir together ingredients before using hand mixer, otherwise, you’ll get a nicely powdered kitchen counter. You might need to adjust milk or sugar to make the consistency to your liking. Once your ideal consistency is reached, add vanilla and a final stir.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

3 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4-1/2 cup cocoa powder (more cocoa = more dark, fudge-like flavor)
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream together butter and sugar, and then sift in cocoa powder. Combine with milk before beating with hand mixer. You might need to adjust milk to make the consistency to your liking. Add vanilla, and give it one last stir.

Cake was a box mix – initial frosting inside and crumb-coating the cake was store bought since I wasn’t planning on decorating anything creative when I initially bought and made the cake (inspiration litterally came overnight…haha). Piping was all above buttercream recipes above.

Crumb Coating Saves the Day

24 Dec

Tonight, I made my annual “Happy Birthday Jesus” cake. Chocolate Devil’s food cake with chocolate frosting this year. It isn’t complete yet, so I’ll post a picture later. For now, know that it is perfectly frosted thanks to some wonderful information I’ve learned – crumb coating.

Crumb coating is the simple art of frosting your cake twice. Once the cake is cooled, and layered as you like, you spread a thin coat of your frosting over the top and sides of the cake. It doesn’t matter how messy or crumbly your cake looks at this point. The next step requires patience. Place the cake into the fridge and wait. Some say to wait about 5 minutes, some even say freezing it until its frozen. I waited around 20 minutes for my crumb coat to “set” and form a barrier. After that I was able to load a nice smooth layer onto my cake.

Before the crumb coat, my cake was kinda falling apart. It was leaning to one side and becoming a hot mess. So I just went ahead, did the thin layer, and put it in the fridge. When I did my second layer, I was realistically doubtful of the outcome. How could this really help? But my frosting went on so much easier. And I was able to manipulate the frosting to give my cake a really nice flat top and smooth sides.

Tomorrow, I’ll also be trying my hand at piping for the second time. The first time, two years ago for a superbowl party, was a nightmare. Hopefully Christmas Eve proves some better results.

Pictures to come!


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