Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cake decorating made easy:writing with frosting (a bit of a cheat)

those blue things are the message stamps
I used a toothpick to trace "Chris"
So here's my son's birthday cake. It's very simple, but I think it passes. Anyways, what I wanted to tell you about are 2 ways to simplify the message part done in frosting.  

Several years ago, I bought this set of frosting "stamps" -- the Script Message Press Set, made by Wilton. You press them into the cake's frosting, and a message is stamped. Next, you trace this stamped message with your lettering frosting using a small round piping tip. Lacking a stamp with the right words (such as a name), I use a toothpick to trace the word(s), then follow up with the frosting for the lettering.

The stamp kit that I bought came with the following words: Happy, Birthday, Anniversary, Congratulations, Best, Wishes. I can put them together for many different sentiments. Last I checked, this particular set was retailing for under $5 USD. 

But I also want to point out that a toothpick and a steady hand can create a nice message, as well. If you trace your message into soft and fresh frosting, any mistakes can be smoothed over and you can try with the toothpick again.

I find it best to do my message first, then any edge trim after, just in case I need to start over on the toothpick message, by smoothing the frosting.

For bags, tips and couplers (the couplers are the pieces that attach the tip to the bag, one part goes inside the bag, the other secures the tip from the outside), I've had the same basic set of tips, round, medium star, small star, and leaf, for about 21 years. My original bags wore out years ago (split the seams), so now I use washed-out freezer bags, whose zip no longer works very well. I snip a bit off the corner, fit in the coupler and tip, fill the bag with frosting, then roll the top edge down as I go.

11 comments:

  1. What a great idea, Lili! I hadn't thought of using a toothpick before. I will have to keep that in my mind for the next cake I make.

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    1. Hi Belinda,
      Thank you! It does make "writing" on a cake more goof-free. If I make mistakes with the toothpick, I just smooth the cake and start again.

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  2. Your son's cake looks great. We usually just decorate with M&M's or some such thing. As long as it looks festive, we don't don't worry about the message. But as you know, I'm one who usually takes shortcuts in the kitchen.

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    1. Hi live and learn,
      We've gone the sprinkle route, as well. It all depends on how much time I have, and what type of frosting I'm using. I'm a big fan of 7-minute frosting. It doesn't pipe fine lines as well, for me at least.

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  3. I've never owned a set of bags and tips (a steady hand and neat handwriting are not assets of mine!) but I'm starting to rethink this. I have always been convinced that any decorating I do will end up looking awful. Like Live & Learn, I have found that sprinkles/candies can cover a multitude of mistakes. Maybe I need to be bold and just try the decorating tips!

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    1. Hi Kris,
      there's a simplified method for decorating cakes that I've used for many of my kids' cakes. It involves tracing a design on the cake surface, then fill the traced design with icing using a star tip. I'll do one of those cakes next month and take pictures. (I like to make a poinsettia cake in December for parties.) It's how I did cakes with character designs that my kids really wanted.

      But in truth, I think kids like cakes with candy on them. Whenever we'd gone by the bakery at the grocery store, the cakes my kids always oohed and ahhed over were the ones with mini candy bars on them! And brightly colored frosting! In years that I was just too busy to do a "decorated" cake, I just added lots of food coloring to the frosting to make very vivid cakes (hot pink was always a favorite!).

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    2. My daughter loves a book character (a mouse) called Geronimo Stilton. When I googled cakes with him on it, they were all done with the start tip technique you mentioned--soooo we ended up with a cut-out Hello Kitty which I knew I could pull off. I did make cupcakes with a mouse on it for her class, and they ended up looking somewhat like Geronimo Stilton--she was thrilled! All to say, I think I need to learn the star tip method--the decorated cake seems to be the highlight for my kids, so it would be useful for me to learn another skill.

      Even when I have made cakes which use a lot of candy on them, it still ends up much more economical than purchasing one. The kids can often help with at least part of the decorating, so it becomes a fun activity we can do together, as well.

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  4. Lili, Chris' cake is lovely, very classic looking. You did a great job matching his name to the font of the wilton stamp.

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    1. Thank you, frugal spinster!
      That is high praise coming from you, as cake-decorating is your profession!

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