Thursday, 3 July 2014

Dam Girl....

The most important thing I learned from my first cake was this: I really enjoyed doing it!  At the time, my oldest daughter was 6 months old and I was already dreaming of all the wonderful (crazy) things I was going to do for her first birthday party.  This is where the second thing I learned came into play: I had NO idea what I was doing!  I iced my first cake with a butter knife and a fork for goodness sake!  I needed some direction!  So, I headed down to my local Bulk Barn and signed up for the Wilton Course 1: Decorating Basics.

For someone who is already addicted to buying kitchen gadgets (just ask my husband), going to a Wilton Course is a dream come true!  Do you have any idea how many cake decorating tools there are??  I was in heaven! There was a tool for everything! Tips and rollers, mats and couplers!  Even a handy dandy stand to hold your piping bags in while you're working (by the way, I have NEVER used this stand - just save your money).  Just writing that gave me an idea for a new blog post - I should do a post about the best tools I've bought, there are definitely some I couldn't live without!

I seem to have gotten off topic here.  I'm supposed to be talking about the wonderful world of Wilton.  The first course covers all the basics.  They give you tips on baking your cakes, a recipe for "butter"cream (more on that next post) and the basics of icing a cake.  Honestly I was a little disappointed with the curriculum...yawn!  Bring on the 5 tiered masterpieces! Despite my apprehension, on the first day, I learned 2 tips that made the whole experience worth every penny.

The first tip involved the actual baking process.  You need to have a great foundation in order to decorate amazing cakes.  These two products will save you many headaches:

Those grey things that look like bandages are the Wilton Bake-Even Strips (these are old ones, I believe the new ones are purple) and they are AMAZING!  You just soak them in water (important step here people, please don't burn down your house) and then pin them around your baking pan and your cakes bake evenly (no hump in the middle).  I find that I get the best results if I remove the strips after about 20 minutes.  If I leave them on for the whole baking time my cakes tend to not pull away from the sides of the pan and I don't get the nice crust, which is essential for easy icing.

I also like to prep my pans with the Wilton Cake Release.  You just shake up the bottle, squirt it in the pan and brush it around the bottom and up the side of the pan.  I prefer to use a silicon brush to do this, I've used my pastry brush but I find the bristles sometimes fall out (or maybe I have a really crappy pastry brush....). The first time I used the cake release I made the disastrous mistake of not shaking the bottle.  It looked like oil when I squirted it into the pan and my cake DID NOT release. It was a giant mess!  It should look like cake batter when it comes out, if it doesn't look like batter, keep shaking!

The second tip is called "building a dam".  The best thing about cakes, in my opinion, is the filling.  It needs to be delicious, there needs to be lots of it and it needs to stay INSIDE the cake instead of leaking out everywhere.  And here's how you do it:

You will need a leveled off cake (there's a tool for that, or if you're really brave, a serrated knife will do the trick), a piping bag and a piping tip.  I'm using a huge 1M tip (because I want LOADS of filling) and this will build a really high dam.  In the course they recommend tip 12, I honestly don't think it matters, I often use the first tip I happen to grab.

Fit your tip into your bag and fill 'er up!  Now just pipe a border around your cake.  The stiffer your buttercream, the sturdier the dam.

Around and around you go.  It doesn't need to be pretty!  P.S. I was making a Canada Day cake here (tutorial to come), hence the red and white cake.

Now it's time for the yummy filling.  This is a strawberry rhubarb filling.  Nom nom nom...

Put the hat on and you're done!  Such a simple fix for leaky filling.  Alternatively, you can roll out a piece of fondant into a long rope and snake it around your cake.  You'll also notice in this picture that the bottom of my cake is now the top.  I like to check out my cakes (insert catcall here) and see which one looks the smoothest and reserve it for the top of my cake.  This just makes it easier to ice, and you won't pick up as many crumbs as you go.

Next up, Ice Ice Baby.....

#cake #caketutorial #cakedecorating

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