We receive a lot of questions from our customers about the ins and outs of cake decorating so, for this week’s blog, we thought we would answer the most the frequently asked baking and cake making questions. If you’re new to cake decorating, this is the perfect opportunity to brush up on your knowledge and learn a new thing or two about how you can make life in the kitchen a lot easier 🙂
Q: How do I get a super smooth finish with sugarpaste?
A: The trick to achieving a really smooth, professional finish when covering your cake in sugarpaste is taking it slow and steady. Only apply a very thin layer of buttercream or jam filling on the outside of the cake and make sure to check there are no lumps. Roll your sugarpaste to a thin but even thickness all around and wrap the edges tightly to your cake after draping it across. You can use a smoother tool to help you create a really flawless finish.
Q: How do I level a cake?
A: Although a cake can be levelled at any time, we recommend levelling it straight after it has been thawed from the freezer or fresh from the refrigerator. Levelling it while it is cold is much easier and prevents the cake from crumbling or falling apart. To level the cake, find where the dome is starting to rise and anchor your knife into it. Keeping the knife straight, exert a small amount of pressure and rotate your cake turntable.
Q: What is the easiest way to fill a cake?
A: Simply bake the layers of your cake in different cake tins so that they’re evenly sized and rounded. Once you’ve done this, simply add the filling to the top of your first layer and place the second on top. The filling should hold the cake in place, ready to cover. Nice and easy!
Q: Why does my cake sink in the middle?
A: The main reason why cakes sink in the middle is using the incorrect quantities of ingredients. Make sure that you use the exact measurements specified in the recipe and use only the freshest ingredients. Other things to take into account are ensuring you set the oven to the correct temperature and that you are baking the cake for long enough. When the cake is finished baking, open the oven door slightly and let the cake cool gradually as a rapid change in temperature can also cause problems.
Q: How can I add colour to my cake mix?
Q: How do I make a rainbow cake?
A: To make a rainbow cake you need to bake the different coloured layers separately, adding food colouring to the mixes before baking. Depending on how many coloured sponge layers you wish to have, you will need to bake separate cakes for each. Note that the separate cake layers need to be thinner than a standard cake as they’re going to be joined together to make one bright and beautiful cake at the end.
Photo by wedpics.com
Q: How do you dowel a cake?
A: Wooden or plastic dowel rods are essential when making a tiered cake. They stick into the base layer and support the cake cards or boards of the layer above. If you have a heavy cake board on top, it is recommended you use wooden dowels and sharpen them, sticking multiple dowels into the lower base and bottom of the upper level. Position at equal distance around the inner edges of the cake to hold the weight evenly. Dowels should be inserted after positioning cake base layer.
Q: How do you use cake dummies?
A: Cake dummies should be used on the upper tiers of cakes and are great for saving money when there isn’t the demand for large portions of cake. Simply cover the dummy tier as you would a normal cake and secure to your lower tier using a layer of buttercream.
Q: Can I freeze sugarpaste?
A: Once opened sugarpaste can keep for months, but you need to make sure to wrap it up and keep it away from both moisture and heat. Put the sugarpaste in a zip lock/airtight bag so that moisture can’t reach it and store in a good quality freezer.
Q: Can I freeze a cake?
A: It is not recommended that you freeze a fully decorated cake as icing and buttercream etc. don’t thaw well and can deteriorate in quality. It is recommended you freeze your baked cake in a ziplock bag/container and decorate 4-5 days before it is required.
Q: How long should I leave my cake to defrost?
A: We recommend leaving your cake to thaw for at least 2 hours before add any icing or cake decoration. Adding icing to a frozen cake is best avoided.
Q: How do I use edible gems?
A: Our House of Cake edible gems are actually all ready to use, making your life a little easier. To attach them to your cakes or cupcakes, simply place them straight on the buttercream or apply a small splash of water to the back and stick firmly onto your cake surface. They can also be attached using edible glue, if preferred.
Q: How thick should the cake cards be between my cake tiers?
A: We recommended using very thin cake cards with a thickness of 3mm or less. These cards will give the cake enough support whilst staying small enough to go unnoticed on the cake.
Q: How soon before a wedding should you cover the cake?
A: As a wedding cake is such a time consuming and large task, we recommend that the cake should be covered and then frozen to ensure it stays fresh. The cake can then be defrosted and decorated a few days before the wedding (depending on how much work needs to be done!)
Q: Once covered in fondant, how long does a sponge cake last?
A: Air exposure is what causes a cake to dry out, so covering your cake in buttercream or fondant is a great way to seal the cake. The covered sponge cake can last up to 3 weeks when sealed and left out of the fridge.
Do you have any other cake questions you need answering? Let us know on our Facebook page and we’ll be happy to help 🙂