All About Cakes

Secrets For Successful Frostings, Garnishes And Decorations

Easy or elaborate, frosting garnishes and other decorations add the crowning touch to your cake creation.

The Icing on the Cake

Decorating a cake can be as simple as swirling creamy frosting over its layers. For best results, take these steps to make your finished product a work of art:

  • Get rid of loose crumbs. Brushing the layers with a pastry brush or your hand works great.
  • To keep the serving plate clean, tuck strips of waxed paper under the edge of the cake before you frost it. Spread about 1/2 cup frosting on the top of the first cake layer.
  • Place the second cake layer, top side up, on top of the frosted layer. Spread a thin coating of frosting on the sides of the cake to seal in any crumbs. Let stand 15 minutes.
  • Add a thicker coating of frosting to the sides of the cake. Then frost the sides again, swirling and building up the top edge of the frosting about 1/4 inch above the cake.
  • Spread the remaining frosting on top of the cake, blending it with the frosting at the edge. Remove the strips of waxed paper once you’ve finished.
  • Let the cake stand—if time allows—for about an hour before you slice it to let the frosting set up.

Create the right consistency.

Frosting should have a smooth consistency that is firm enough to hold swirls and other patterns and yet soft enough to spread. Glazes should be thin enough to pour or drizzle but not so thin they run off the cake.

Make frosting patterns.

Decorate a cake as you frost it by making swirls, crisscrosses, zigzags or spirals with a spatula, knife or the tines of a fork.

Tint frosting with food color.

Mix enough of each color before you begin frosting or decorating. The color will darken as the frosting dries.

Add easy garnishes.

A cake can be made extra-special by adding a garnish. Here are just a few things that can be arranged on or sprinkled over a cake:

  • Animal crackers
  • Chocolate or butterscotch chips, nuts, raisins
  • Coconut, colored sprinkles, sugar
  • Candies such as mint wafers, jelly beans, gumdrops, peppermints or licorice strings
  • Candied, fresh or dried fruit
  • Fresh or artificial flowers. When using flowers, choose nontoxic chemical-free blossoms such as nasturtiums, violets, roses or pansies.

Add easy decorations.

Try these easy decorating ideas:

  • Drizzle melted chocolate around the top edge of the cake for a border effect. Or dip a toothpick in melted chocolate to create marble or spider web designs.
  • Sift powdered sugar or cocoa onto an unfrosted cake. For a lacy pattern, use a paper doily. Lay the doily on top of the cake. Carefully sift an even layer of powdered sugar or cocoa over it. Lift the doily straight up, leaving a pattern on the cake.
  • Use a cookie cutter to mark a design on the frosting of a cake or cupcake. Fill in the design with colored sugar, sprinkles or chopped nuts.

Simple Decorating Bag

A plastic freezer bag can be used as a simple decorating bag. Fill the bag with frosting and fold top down. For a writing tip effect, snip off one corner, making a very small hole; squeeze the frosting gently through the opening. If you want to use decorative tips, snip off 1/4 inch of one corner. Place the desired tip in the corner of the bag, fill it with frosting and decorate.

Birthday Cake Ideas

  • Create a border by drizzling melted chocolate around the top edges of the cake.
  • Sift powdered sugar onto an unfrosted cake. To make a beautiful lacy pattern, place a paper doily on top of the cake. Sprinkle powdered sugar over the top of the entire doily. Carefully remove the doily by lifting straight up. Vary this idea by cutting shapes or names from waxed paper to make a stencil.
  • Coat the entire cake or just the top or sides with chopped nuts, colored sugar, sprinkles, miniature chocolate chips or miniature candy-coated chocolate pieces.
  • Use a cookie cutter or stencil to mark a design on a frosted cake. Fill in with colored sugar, candy sprinkles or finely chopped nuts.