Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Let the decorating begin
Today we are joined by cozy mystery author Gayle Trent, whose latest book DEAD PAN has just been released from Bell Bridge Books. DEAD PAN is the second book in the Daphne Martin Cake Decorating Mystery Series. Gayle is here to help us decorate our holiday cakes.
To learn more about Gayle and her cake decorating mystery series, visit her at http://www.gayletrent.com. If you Twitter, be sure to enter her Twitter contest to win a copy of DEAD PAN, a copy of MURDER TAKES THE CAKE and a red Murder Takes the Cake apron. E-mail Gayle for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And now -- Gayle!
Can you believe it’s that time again? I looked at the calendar the other day and could hardly believe it was November already. So, of course, I started thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas. As the author of a cake decorating mystery series, people expect me to know how to decorate beautiful cakes. Unfortunately, knowing how and being able to actually do something are often two separate things entirely! Fortunately, you don’t have to be a professional to make a beautiful, elegant dessert you’ll be proud to tell your guests, “I made it myself.”
Artificial flowers (fresh, too, but check to make sure they aren’t poisonous), ribbon, strands of pearls or beads (from your local hobby shop) and fruit can all make beautiful decorations for your cakes. One simple decorating technique – the Swiss dot—can add an additional touch of elegance to your cake.
Note: If you’re using flowers, ribbon or other inedible decorations, be sure and wash them in hot water and let them dry thoroughly before using them on your cake. I like to wash inedible decorations in a salad spinner.
First, crumb coat your cake. A crumb coat is the first coat of icing put on your cake. That way, if you have crumbs in your cake icing, it won’t matter because you’ll be putting a second layer of icing over the first. Let the cake set for 15-20 minutes between coats of icing.
After applying the second coat of icing to your cake, smooth the cake with a spatula. Then place a small round tip (number 4 or smaller) in a decorator bag and fill the bag halfway with white frosting. Pipe small dots on the sides and top of the cake. The lighter the pressure, the smaller the dots. If your dots have peaks, smooth them with your fingertip dipped in cornstarch.
Use pearls, beads, Jordan almonds or ribbon to create a bottom border for your cake. Then, if using artificial flowers, pipe a mound of icing in the middle of your cake. Arrange the flowers in the mound. This makes the flowers stand up better and also facilitates removal with a spatula before serving.
If using fruit, arrange it artistically on the top of your cake. Some suggestions: kiwi, banana, apple, pineapple, strawberries, grapes. Be sure to dust fruit with sugar before putting it on the cake to prevent it from turning brown.
Use your ribbon to make small bows to go on the sides of your cake or to be draped down the sides from the top of the cake like fondant bows. If you’re using flowers, make sure your ribbon is in a complimentary color.
How you display your cake is another important part of its appearance. Gold or silver foil doilies on a cake plate are always a good touch for the holidays.