The success of TV shows such as ‘The Great British Bake Off’ has seen a surge in interest in baking and cake making. While most stop at a Victoria sponge or carrot cake, some are tempted to explore further, going on to more elaborate cake constructions including getting creative with icing techniques.
Whether you choose to make decorative cupcakes or want to recreate your child’s favourite toy out of cake and icing, learning a few basic icing techniques will stand you in good stead. From this point the process can become very rewarding, as your experiments will see you improve all the time. To really get creative with icing you’ll need a few tools, which can be found at Wares of Knutsford in the baking equipment section of the site.
Icing techniques for basic buttercream swirls
The foundation for many a cake decoration, a buttercream swirl takes only minutes but you may need a few practice runs to perfect your technique – it’s best to start with cupcakes or muffins and move on to bigger and bolder creations later. You will need a star shaped icing nozzle and a quantity of buttercream in light to medium consistency.
Hold the icing tip 1-1.5cm above and at a 90 degree angle to the cake surface. Squeeze out the first bit of icing into a small star. Don’t release the pressure as you lift the tip slightly and squeeze out a line of icing in a close, complete circle around the star.
With the first rotation complete, raise the tip back towards the centre and drop another line around the inside edge on top of that first spiral, releasing the pressure as you finish your spiral in the centre of the cake.
Icing techniques for basic flowers
You can then decorate your swirl with some sugarpaste flowers. You will need fondant icing in the colour of your choice and a flower shaped plunger cutter.
Dust your work surface with icing sugar and roll out the icing to about 3mm thick. Cut out your flower shape with your cutter. Lift the flower from the icing around it and gently place on a sheet of baking paper. You can use your fingers to very carefully lift or roll the edges to make a cupped blossom shape if you like.
Use a small, round icing nozzle to put a drop of buttercream as a dot centre of the flower and place into position topping your buttercream swirl.
You can use the same technique to cut leaves out of fondant icing to finish off your flower.