How To Decorate a Cake Like a Pastry Chef
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How To Decorate a Cake Like a Pastry Chef

-If you’re just starting out
icing cakes, just remember that it’s cake,
not life or death. Be patient. Have fun. Don’t get stressed. ♪♪ I’m Bill Clark. I am from Meme’s Diner
in Brooklyn, New York, and today, I’m going to show you
how to ice and decorate a cake. So first off, we’re going
to build our cake. Today, we’re going to be
doing a three-layer cake. I’m going to start with
a cardboard round and some masking tape
right on my turntable. So I use a cardboard round because it’s a really great,
sturdy base. You can really move the cake
very easily. It just sort of gives you
a nice landing pad. Now, these layers
are nice and cold. It’s always easier
to decorate a cold cake. Never decorate a warm cake. And these are already nice
and level, but just to make it
a little bit more level and a little bit more even… Now, one of the tricks
I always do is lock my elbow into my body
and have the serrated knife, and that sort of allows me
to cut straight across and not cut at an angle
or cut up. So just hold it there
and turn it as you go. And because these are
really nice and level, I’m literally just shaving off
the very top where it was
just not quite there. I’ve leveled my first layer. I’m going to level
all of the layers at the same time
so you’re ready to go, and you can just keep icing
all the way through. All of our layers are leveled, and now we’re just going
to build a cake. I always love a ice cream scoop, and it helps you get
the same amount of icing between every single layer. So I’m going to do two scoops,
just like that, and then I’m taking
my offset spatula. So I’m starting in the middle,
and I’m going to start pushing the icing out
to the sides of the cake, turning my table as I go
so you get it nice and even. Once you sort of get it all out
to the edges, you can plant
the tip of your knife right in the middle of the cake and give it one
or two good turns. So this one, I’m just going
to put the cut-side down. It’s just going to help
keep everything level. You can kind of see
where you are. Next, two more scoops. So again, we’re just going to
push it out to the edges. Same deal.
This is the final layer. You always want to make sure
that the final layer, you have the cut side down, so you’re looking
at the nice flat top that was the bottom of the cake
when you baked it. Again, two scoops. So after you do the top layer
of buttercream, just go around the edges
with your spatula nice and straight up and down, and sort of push the icing into
all of the seams on the sides. So I’m going to take this off. I’m going to throw it
in the freezer for like, five, 10 minutes,
let the buttercream harden up. This is our chilled cake. It’s been in the freezer
for just a little bit. Get your spatula
underneath your board. This is also why it’s really
great to have it on a board because you can just
throw it around. It’s really easy to move. Plop it right back down
on your turntable. Make sure it’s nice and centered
on your table, otherwise it’s going
to be really hard to get the sides
even and smooth. There’s a million ways
of icing cakes, and we’re just going to do
three of them that I find are super easy. For the first style
of icing cake, we’re going to do classic, crisp,
straight up-and-down cake. You already have a pretty good
layer of buttercream on the top,
so for the finish layer, I’m only going to put one
scoop of icing on the top. You’re just going to kind of
smooth it out towards the edge. You just have to be a little bit
more judicious because you’re working with
a little less buttercream than you were on the inside,
on the first round, and then make it
nice and smooth. A good tip, I think,
for doing this is always putting on
more buttercream than you need because
when you’re finishing it, it’s easier to make it look nice
when you’re taking buttercream off rather than
trying to push more on. You want to make sure you’re
building up an edge here because that’s going to give you
the ability later to make a nice, smooth,
crisp corner. And the great thing about this
is that the cake is super cold, so it’s sticking,
and it’s not going anywhere. It’s not slipping down. So now just make sure you’re
holding your knife really steady and going as close as you
possibly can to straight up and down,
perfect perpendicular, and you’re just going to hold
your knife and turn your turntable. And it’s going to take
a couple passes to make sure
that this looks nice. And see how I’ve got some, like,
spots where I’m missing it? Let’s just throw a little extra
on there. It’s fine.
But if you really want it to look kind of,
like, perfect and smooth and straight up and down,
you can use a bench scraper. This one is really nice because
you want a bench scraper that has a flat edge, just so you can put it
right on the turntable and not have the handle
get in the way. And you can do just…
It’s the same idea. It’s the same thing. So now that the sides are done, we’re going to go ahead
and do the top corner. This is sort of the trickiest
technique to learn when you’re doing this,
to make sure that you are getting a nice,
crisp edge. It won’t be perfect
the first time. It’s fine. The idea is to have a
nice, clean knife. Don’t have a ton of icing on it. It’ll make it much easier
to get a crisp corner. Go about there, and just drag
your knife towards the middle. You’re just going to go
all the way around and just scrape it off. So this is number one here,
just classic, crisp edges. This is the next technique that
I use a lot at the restaurant. I think it’s an easy way to make
a cake look delicious, and it also hides
some of your mistakes so you don’t have to be
so meticulous about it. We’re going to go for, like,
sort of like a rustic, homemade, textured, palleted look. With this technique,
you are just going to put a little bit
more icing on it in general. I’m going to put a nice, like,
good layer on the top of here to work from. You want it to be level
when you start. And so I’m really kind laying it
on here a little bit thicker than
I did before. You want a nice layer
of frosting to be working from when you’re doing this. Make sure you’re going back and
adding a little bit to the top if you don’t have a nice,
like, little rim on there. You’re, like, doing sort
of an S motion, but you do sort of want to just,
like, kind of palate it. Just scrape it off here
and there. And because we’re… I’m not
going to texturize the top. I’m just going to sort of
make sure that we’re pretty clean
and tidy and smooth. Ta-da. So now we’ve done smooth side and, like, rough,
homemade palate texture. This one is super easy and will always make
your cakes look really nice. So we put it on nice and thick, so we’ve got a nice, clean edge
around the top already. Now just go ahead and smooth
out your sides without taking
a ton of icing off. And it doesn’t have to be
perfectly smooth because now we’re going
to do the texture. Make sure your palate knife
is nice and clean. You’re just going to be using
the tip of your palate knife, putting it on the base
of the cake, and we’re going to go…
hold it against there, and you’re just going
to slowly move it up the cake, making a spiral
all the way around. It looks so much harder
than it actually is. That’s it. Now you also want
to sort of do… You want to run your knife
along here. Free your bottom edge of your
icing up from the turntable. Otherwise when you cake
your take up off, it might pull
some of the buttercream off of the bottom of your cake. So now that we’ve done all
the three icing styles, we’re just
going to clean up real quick, and then we’re going to show some simple ways
to decorate your cakes. We’re going to start by doing just a little, like,
classic shell border on here. These are just easy piping bags
to pick up at your craft store, or order them online. They’re not expensive. But if you find yourself stuck
at home with no piping bag, you can always just use
the corner of a ziplock bag. So when you’re doing this,
just think about you want, like, the bottom third of the tip
to stick out of your bag. If you don’t have enough tip
inside of the bag, if you cut too much
of your bag off, your tip can pop out
when you squeeze, and you’re just going
to make a huge mess. So just trim off the bottom,
and then roll it down. You don’t want to get icing
all over, like, the top part of your bag, just to keep yourself nice
and tidy so you’re not going to be
dripping all over your cake or all over your counter, or rubbing it
all over your clothes. And just put a dollop in there. A rubber spatula,
this is also really nice to just sort of, like,
push it into there. And just go slow,
keep it nice and tidy. You’re just going to want
to kind of dollop and pull, and dollop and pull. The last one
is the hardest one here because you’re going to want
to hide this tail and, like,
tuck it into the other. It’s never going
to look perfect. Just the aim is to kind of just
get it good enough that it hides in there,
and it’s not an obvious mistake. That’s it.
Food color. I’m just going to do two
tonal colors of purple. I have just a classic violet. Start with less dye
than more dye because you can always add more, but otherwise you’re just going
to be wasting buttercream because you’ll have
to dilute the color. But I’m just going to kind of
put a little bit in there, and then the remainder
that I have on my knife is going to go into that one. And then just work it in
with a spatula. And then we have a little bit
less dye in this one, so we’re going to do
a little tonal action. Just fill your bag up.
Okay. This is going to be
our crazy demo cake. We’re going to put everything
on the same cake. This is not typically what I
would do, but here we are. You can use it to do little dots
of various sizes. You can get really big
with them. You can do little tiny ones. When you’re doing this,
just keep it down and then pull it straight up
as you’re still applying
just a tiny bit of pressure. That way, you can get the nice
little pointed kiss on the top. Do, like, a rosette. And then I have
the lighter-colored buttercream. This is just a standard
round tip, so it doesn’t have
the little ridges on it, and that’s going to give you,
like, a little smooth kiss. And you can kind of tuck them
in there. You’re going to make a mess
when doing sprinkles on the side of your cake. I always like to have another
separate bowl that I just put under
the edge of the cake stand. So to pack it on,
you want to take, like, a nice little handful,
and start from the bottom, and just sort of push them
onto the side. And if you have some holes,
it’s fine. Just go back and push
some more on. The other thing that I kind of
like sometimes is to do it on the top edge. Just sort of sprinkle it
on the top edge and do sort of like a little bit
more dense towards the corner. Now we’re just going to do
some writing real fast. I like to use one of these
smaller bags instead of the big honking ones. Go ahead and practice
on parchment. You can practice your shell
borders on parchment. You can practice all of those
things on parchment before you actually
put them on your cake. Don’t stress out. Everything is fixable. Not life or death. Just don’t drop your cake,
because that’s unfixable. We’re just going to do
classic script. Why not? Just think — Ooh. See?
I messed up totally. If you mess up like I just did,
it’s not a big deal. Take your small offset spatula. This is the one that you can use
for small, dexterous things. Put it flat onto your icing
and just scrape it off. And it doesn’t matter if you
have a little purple on there. You can just scrape the rest
of it off, and we’re going to hide it with
a little of our white icing. And then you can just go back. Just take your time. When you’re writing on a cake,
just try and make sure you’re going —
you, like, have an imaginary straight line
that you’re writing on. As long as your spacing is fine,
it’s going to look great. If you’re really nervous
about it, or you just want to make sure
you’re getting the spacing right,
you can just sort of, like, sketch it out with a toothpick
or a little skewer, and then just trace
over the lines. So cutting your cake: iced it,
decorated it, ready to serve it. I use a regular
old chef’s knife. It’s the best for me, I think, and just think about getting
into the center of your cake. You want to get it in one swift
motion to not crush your cake. Just sort of think heel to toe, so just put a little bit
more pressure like that, and then just the same. ♪♪ There you go. We’ve got pretty decent,
even layers of icing. You’ve got a nice clean,
even layer on the outside, on the top. Looks good. So these are just three ways to
easily ice your cakes at home. Hopefully you feel confident
to try them out. You can’t make any mistakes. They’re super simple. ♪♪ ♪♪

About Earl Carter

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42 thoughts on “How To Decorate a Cake Like a Pastry Chef

  1. I trying to focus but I'm distracted by your beautiful kitchen 😂.. and ofcos the knife.. 😂😂😂🔪🔪🔪

  2. the only time i hate a cake is when it has fondant as a cheap-ass-artsy-shortcut-decoration-for-failed-art-students.

    i fucking hate fondant. and i love this cake

  3. Anyone who makes a cake like this is slightly OCD/Type A personality worried about performance. It’s gotta be part of the mentality of creating something like this. I would put makeup artists in the same category.

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