10 Tips for cake decorating

10 Tips for cake decorating

Award-winning master pâtissier and celebrity chef Eric Lanlard has teamed up with Tesco to skilfully craft a ‘Cake Fit for a Queen’ to help the nation celebrate the 90th birthday of our longest reigning monarch. Here are his top ten tips to decorate cakes without a hitch. 

  1. A little bit of preparation goes a long way. Always start with a clean and clear work surface and make sure you have all your equipment and ingredients lined up ready for action. 
  2. If you’re about to slice a sponge ready to be decorated, place it in the fridge for at least one hour. Chilling the sponge will make it easier to slice and you will get less crumbs than if you cut it when it’s super fresh.
  3. When using food colouring to colour icing, always use a tooth pick. Adding a small amount of colouring in stages avoids getting the colour wrong. Remember it’s easy to add more, but not to take it out! 
  4. When baking coloured sponges for cakes such as red velvet or a rainbow cake, make sure the food colouring you use is bake stable. If it isn’t, your lovely coloured sponge will turn grey in the oven. 
  5. When rolling icing on a surface, swap your icing sugar for a light dusting of corn flour…it won’t dry out your icing and will give you a much smoother result without cracks. 
  6. When icing a cake with frosting or buttercream, start by doing what we call a ‘crumb coat’. This is a rough coating of frosting or buttercream which helps to glue the crumbs together. Place the cake in the fridge for one hour before finishing off without a crumb in sight. 
  7. When making a chocolate ganache to glaze a cake, take extra care mixing your hot cream and chocolate. You will need to mix it gently so the ganache does not curdle. If it does, don’t panic, you can save it by folding one tablespoon of cold cream into it. The addition of a bit of glucose syrup into your ganache will help smooth it. 
  8. Do not overfill your piping bag when piping icing. Instead it is better to refill frequently as it gives you more control. When refilling, try placing your piping bag into a measuring jug so you have two free hands to do so.
  9. To fill and ice a cake with buttercream or frosting, use a turntable or a cake stand to help you spin your cake, making it easier to get all around the edges. A palette knife is the perfect tool for icing. To finish, dip your palette knife into hot water for few seconds to get a super smooth and glossy sheen.
  10. If you’re decorating a cake for a special occasion and want to practice your technique ahead of the big day, purchase a polystyrene dummy from any sugar craft store. This way you can decorate it as many times as you want without wasting any cake, icing, frosting - or even piping!! All you need to do is place a clear sheet of Perspex underneath any design and then follow with your piping bag, and clean wipe and start again until you have perfected the technique.