Originally posted Jan 31, 2012
Why hello there, lovely readers!
Today I wanted to take some time out of telling you about my decorating encounters to share a few of my favourite tips and tricks, as well as a few that I just believe to be truly important. In the past 9 months or so that I’ve been (sporadically) learning the fine art of cake decorating, I’ve encountered many a problem, as well as many solutions and decided that some were worth sharing. These may be things I’ve learned on my own, or through reading (I got “Baking With The Cake Boss” for Christmas – so many useful tips! Maybe I should start watching that show…). I’m going to start predominantly with baking tips today, and share more decorating tips in the coming weeks.
First things first, your ingredients are essential when baking, so I’ve chosen a few things I believe you should be doing each time you bake:
- Read the entire recipe. Familiarize yourself with the time it’s going to take you to prep, as well as the bake time. Identify the necessary ingredients – do you have everything you need? Does anything need to chill or warm up to room temperature? Also, check what temperature your oven needs to be, and preheat it!
- Let your ingredients come to room temperature. Unless a recipe calls for different, its best to let ingredients that are normally kept in the fridge (butter, eggs, milk) warm up to room temperature before baking. For instance, many recipes call for softened butter.
- An important note about butter: There is a reason for the butter drawer in your fridge – butter absorbs other scents and flavours. Be sure to keep your butter sealed away from other food items or your baking could end up tasting like last week’s leftovers.
- Older, but not expired eggs, work better than fresh eggs – the yolks are firmer, allowing you to separate them from the whites easier. The whites will also be frothier when you whip older eggs.
- A stand mixer can be your best friend (I love the Kitchenaid stand mixer). Keep children away from these though. (When I was 4, I got my ponytail stuck in one. Little bald girls don’t feel cute!)
- Convection ovens will bake your items quicker than traditional ovens. For this reason, many ovens will automatically reduce the temperature (my oven reduces the temperature by 25 degrees). I don’t like baking at the wrong temperature, however, so I always add an extra 25 degrees to the temperature so it is reduced to the correct heat, and I reduce the time before I check the items. HOWEVER I do find that convection baking also dries the items out a little more than the traditional method, so I rarely use convection. Typically I only use this when baking with a deep pan, such as the Wonder Mold pan used for the Barbie Doll Cake.
- Cream cheese icing is not ideal for decorating, although it tastes delicious, stick with a butter cream for best results
- A crumb coat is an essential base to get smooth, crumb-free icing
- I hope you found some of this useful, and I’ll have more helpful tips and tricks in the coming weeks! Feel free to share your own personal tips and tricks in the comments section below!