Basic Cake Decorating

Part One

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Several years ago, I completed the four-week Basic Course in the Wilton Method of Cake Decorating. It was through that course that I not only learned how to frost a cake but how to make it look like a bakery-bought one, too. In this article, I'll share some of the great tips I learned on how to get the cake ready to decorate. The second article, Part Two, is all about making the icing, the different icing tips and what they do. The final article, Part Three, is about the mistakes I made on my first cakes.

Tips, Hints, and Comments

  • Wilton recommends Duncan Hines cake mixes because the batter volume is the same every time. Several people in class said their favorite flavors were French Vanilla and Swiss Mocha.
  • Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of Wilton Meringue Powder; it makes the cake rise higher.
  • In preparing the cake pans, use a 2 inch wide paint brush to "paint-on" the vegetable shortening. Then dust with the flour. If any area is still shiny, "paint" with more shortening and dust with flour.
  • Don't fill cake pans more than 1/2 full.
  • Let your completely cooled cake rest in an airtight container a day or overnight before icing it.
  • Use a cake leveler or a serrated knife to cut off mounded top of cooked cake. Invert cake and use a wide paintbrush to brush away any crumbs.
  • When icing the top of the cake use a lot of icing. Don't let your spatula touch the cake. You'll get crumbs in the frosting.
  • Have trouble icing the sides of a cake? Wilton has a tip, no. 789, that's made just for it.
  • After icing the cake, let it rest at least 15 minutes. Smooth out the cake using parchment paper. Place the parchment paper on the cake and gently smooth out the icing.
  • Only bought a one layer cake mix? Torte it. Slice the cake horizontally. Create a dam with a ring of icing (made by squeezing icing from a decorating bag through a tip) on the outside edge of the first half of the cake. For the filling, use a child's size container of snack pudding. Spread it inside the ring of icing. Put the top half of the cake on and ice as usual.