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How difficult is it to really master cake decorating and icing? It isn't really too difficult at all, and this is particularly true if you look at all icing in a somewhat "scientific" way. What does that mean? It simply means that you should consider the many factors that might make one icing recipe less favorable than another. These include:

· The weight of the icing - this means two different things o The physical weight of the icing - is it whipped and light? Is it heavy, such as a rolled fondant or ganache? Is it loose and glossy, like a glaze? Whatever the physical weight of the icing, it is vitally important that it can actually co-exist with the cake in question. Often, a baker will select a recipe because they think the flavor will be an ideal partner to the cake recipe, and they discover too late that the cake actually cannot support the weight of the icing atop the surface.

This usually results in a cake that cracks or collapses, or one that becomes heavily saturated with the icing used; or o The heaviness of the flavor of the icing - if you choose an icing recipe that overwhelms the other flavors in the cake and/or decorations you are making a very self-defeating choice. Always consider the heaviness of any flavors in an icing before deciding to cover an entire cake with it. If you feel it would really enhance the tastes of the combination, you can always use a small amount of it between the layers of the cake rather than using it to coat the entire surface.

· The way that the icing works with the texture and tastes of the cake - this is not the same as the issue above. You must consider if the crumb of the cake would benefit from a silky smooth glaze or a heftier fondant.

You must also consider if something like a ginger icing would work well with the flavor of a vanilla cake, etc. These are very relevant factors and should not be put behind something like the way that an icing "looks" on the cake.

· The way the icing meets the decorative demands - although a cake must be a dessert first and a work of art second, it is always a good idea to select the types of frostings and icings that really meet the baker's needs where decorating is concerned. If you want to put writing on a cake, you must select a base frosting appropriate to such a choice. If you hope to use a lot of fondant figures and designs, you must be sure to use a base strong enough for those as well.

Although putting a lot of though and effort into the selection process of cake making and cake decorating might reduce the all around "fun factor", it is usually going to help the baker or decorator to get the best results possible. Not only will a cake be remarkably attractive in its overall design and decoration, but it will also be remarkably tasty and appealing to the palate of the eaters as well.

John Knollwood is the author of "Cake Decorating Made Easy" mini course, please visit to sign up for it. You can also visit our website to find out more about cake decorating icing.


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