As I wrote about last week, I have chosen to focus on decorating both cakes and cupcakes for my learning project! I love baking and have a lot of experience with it, but for my first attempt at decorating I decided to take a step back and start with the basics before I jump into actual cake decorating. So for this week, I chose to work on different piping techniques using basic buttercream frosting, as well as introducing myself to the use of fondant, something that is new to me! I started by searching online for different video tutorials on basic icing techniques and although I found many, the best beginner video I found was from the Topless Baker channel! Not only does this video include various icing tips and techniques, but it also has a great step-by-step approach that helps break down the process to make it less intimidating!
First things first, I needed to collect all the supplies I would be needing. As pictured below, I gathered:
- Buttercream Frosting
- Wax Paper
- Paper Templates (tutorial in video below)
- Icing bags
- Icing Tips
After tracing out my templates with lines and circles, I taped down each template and covered it with wax paper. (This is a great tip because when you are finished practicing, you can simply scrape the icing off the wax paper and continue using it!) All of the different icing tips I used are Wilton brand and can be found on their website. So, beginning with the 104 Tip, I followed the video in order to create a series of ruffles. This technique is very simple and clean. After practicing a few times, I moved onto my second tip, the french tip! This tip is my favourite out of all the ones i used today because it is easy to use and creates a very cute design! I was really interested to see the different ways in which the angle I was holding my bag would change the design I was piping! I would use this technique for piping the boarders around the edges of a cake. The third tip I used was the 1M Tip, which is one that I have used before. The criss cross pattern that I created was surprisingly easy and I was able to pick up on it without much struggle. The rose on the other hand was a different story! Just as it is explained in the video, this technique took a lot of practice. I got slightly frustrated because the design looks very simple but you have to keep a steady hand in order to create a tight rose design. This was definitely my weakest attempt and I will have to keep on practicing it. The final tip I used was a simple round nozzled tip. I tend to shy away from this tip because it seems quite plain to me, but this video may have changed my mind. I like the idea of not just doing dots, but dragging the dots to create a whole new design! After many failed attempts, I was finally able to complete all the designs! Check out my finished product! It’s not perfect but I’m trying!
After working so hard on these piping techniques, I decided that I would use my leftover frosting to do some freestyle designs with a small rounded tip! I love being creative with my baking so I used some of the techniques I practiced above and put my own little twist on them!
So what did I learn in terms of piping? Well there are 3 main things:
- Check your icing consistency: When I first started piping, my icing was not thick enough and it wouldn’t hold when I piped it. I decided to add a little more icing sugar to the icing and it worked like a charm! Also, the longer you hold the icing bag, the warmer the icing gets so popping the whole frosting bag into the fridge for a few minutes can help a lot!
- Find you rhythm: One of the most important things to remember when piping is to maintain a consistent rhythm and pace with your piping. If you go to fast, too slow, or change your speed up too much, you won’t end up with your desired design.
- Practice practice practice: Some of the designs or piping techniques may look simple, but they aren’t! Don’t get discouraged if you don’t nail it the first time! Just keep practicing and you’ll get it!
Fun With Fondant:
After getting used to using icing, I decided that I would introduce myself to fondant! I have never really used fondant before because I don’t think it tastes very good and I know a lot of people who share the same opinion. Regardless, I know that fondant cakes are really common and fondant is great for creating shapes, figures, and even covering cakes. I wanted to step out of my comfort zone so I went to Michaels Craft Store and picked up a box of fondant! Since I am new to the fondant game, I needed to find a video on how to start! After doing some searching, the beginners fondant tutorial on the Craftsy Cake Decorating channel seemed like the best choice! Here is the video that provides 4 basic tips for using fondant (all of which I didn’t know before)!
Again, I needed to collect the necessary supplies!
- Rolling Pin
- Icing Sugar
- Pizza Cutter
- Paint Brush
- Cookie Cutters
I started by colouring my fondant because plain white was too boring for me! Pink and yellow are both bright spring colours so I went with those! I started by sprinkling some icing sugar on my counter and then rolled the fondant out. I recommend also sprinkling icing sugar on the rolling pin because if you don’t, you will end up with a sticky mess! I used some cookie cutters to cut out some different shapes and also just used my hands to create different shapes. The fondant texture reminded me a lot of playdough and was really easy to mould! I was happily surprised at how simple the process was, or so I thought! Now I may have been getting a little cocky, but I thought that I had done a good job with the fondant and wanted to challenge myself. I found a video on the MyCupcakeAddiction channel on how to make a fondant bow! Here is the video:
This was extremely challenging! The woman in the video makes it look so simple but it’s a lot more complicated than I thought! I think that my first mistake was rolling the fondant too thin. As soon as I started folding the bow, the fondant started to rip. I had to start again and rolled the fondant thicker. This brings us to my second mistake. I used water to glue the fondant into place (just like the video says) but I used way too much and the whole bow became super sticky! I had to start once again..yeah it was at this moment that you could say I was slightly frustrated! My third attempt was by far my best! I followed the video step by step and took my time. My bow was much smaller than the one in the video but I think it still turned out super cute!
While it’s not perfect, you can still tell it’s a bow so I will call this a success! The main things I learnt about using fondant are:
- Icing sugar is key: You cannot use fondant without icing sugar! Don’t even attempt it! Cornstarch will work too but I would go with icing sugar if you have it!
- Fondant is temperamental: Don’t handle the fondant too much or it will become sticky and you’ll find yourself re-powdering your hands constantly!
Overall, I would say that this week was very enlightening for me! I think it was a good idea to start with the basics before I dive into cakes and cupcakes! I will keep practicing these techniques this week and am looking forward to next week when I will attempt my first cupcakes! Stay tuned!
Thanks for reading & don’t forget that life is sweet!