Cake-making and decorating are true art forms in their own rights. That’s why professionals and cake enthusiasts have a whole arsenal of tools and tricks up their sleeves. But for the amateur, buying all the right gear is not always convenient, and basic homemaker books can skim past assumed details. Here are four great tips and tidbits for those new to baking adventures.
Decorate with coloured marshmallow
Want to add some colour and texture to a simple cake? Use multicoloured marshmallows to decorate your creation. First take some castor sugar and add a couple of drops of food dye. Mix until the colour is consistent, making sure the castor sugar remains quite dry. Then, take your marshmallows and slice them so that you get thin oval-shaped saucer. Dip the flat sticky surface of the marshmallow into the coloured castor sugar, and voilà – coloured cake decorations. Use them as eyes, polka dots, or cut them into any shape you want.
Make your own piping bags
Cake-makers use all sorts of weird and wonderful tools in the decorating process. To add icing and cream to the top of a cake, piping bags and syringes are used to create patterns and write text. The good news is amateurs can make their own paraphernalia using basic household products. To make an piping bag take a freezer or zip lock bag. Simply cut one corner to the desired size of your icing trail. Put your icing into the bag and squeeze it over your cake.
Keep Your Cakes in Good Shape
Ever made a patty cake that has baked right out of its paper cup? Denser cakes, like sticky date pudding, will expand sideways rather than grow tall in a neat shape. To prevent this, put your delicate paper cups into a muffin tray. This will keep their shape even and attractive. You can use this method for anything from muffins to mini-cheese cakes and lemon meringue tarts.
Large cakes like Pavlovas tend to sink in the middle when you pull them out of the oven. If they sink too much that’s a bad sign, but it does happen a little to most cakes. Prevent your Pavlova from looking like a ceramic bowl by crafting it into a slight dome shape from the start. That way when it sinks, it’ll basically come out flat.
Cake-test on a budget
You’ve pulled your cake out of the oven and want to give it a test… but you can’t find that blessed cake tester. Oh that’s right, you never bought one. Never fear, there are plenty of household products that double as cake-testers, namely the humble toothpick. A toothpick is usually sufficient to get to the centre of your cake but if not, use wooden or metal skewers or even knitting needles. These objects do the job just well and are thin enough to keep your cake intact.
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