Cake It On: Top 10 tips for cake decorating

Charlotte Maxwell
Latest posts by Charlotte Maxwell (see all)

In case you haven’t noticed, the UK is having one long, long party to celebrate the Queen’s birthday. It’s not like we have one (or even two) every year or anything, so we’re throwing everything at it like it makes up for the last six years of austerity and misery.

Let them eat cake

The celebrations kicked off on her 90th actual birthday (21 April) and will continue until her other ‘official’ birthday in June – because who doesn’t want two B-days? That’s okay by us, because, frankly, it’s twice as many opportunities to get pissed. We only wish they’d make it a bank holiday already.

But why all the fuss on this year of all years? Well, this milestone birthday makes her majesty Britain’s longest serving monarch. Yes, she overtook Queen Victoria last year. So let’s join in the celebrations, have our cake and eat it!

Beat that cake, honey

If you fancy channelling your inner Mary Berry but aren’t quite brave enough to do a full blown bake, why not have a bash at cake decorating. Celebrity chef Eric Lanard gave us a few baking tips for that perfect birthday cake, and we’re relaying them here just for you.

Planning: A little forethought can make the difference between that perfect cake and a caked on mess. The idea is to start with a neutral workspace: clean, clear and with all the tools and equipment you need. If you plan your shopping properly, and then make sure you measure everything and put it all out in an orderly fashion before you begin, the whole process will be a lot easier.

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Chill. The fuck. Out. Sponge should always be chilled before you start trying to slice it. This will make the process a whole lot less messy.

Sometimes, actually, more is less: Go easy with the food colouring. A toothpick can be used to add tiny amounts at a time until you reach the colour you desire. Go slowly. Take it easy. It’s always possible to add more food colouring if you’re not quite there yet, but you can’t take it back out.

50 shades of grey: You need a bake-stable food colouring, or else your cake will end up grey when it comes out of the oven. Trust us on this one. If you want your cake to look like a work of art instead of stagnant water, then make sure you check the label.

Don’t crack up: When rolling icing on a surface, swap your icing sugar for a light dusting of corn flour. This little tip will prevent drying of your icing, so that you can get much smoother results without a crack in sight.

Your coat is crumby: Before you start adding that frosting or buttercream, you can make what’s called a ‘crumb coat’ to help adhere your icing. This rough coating of frosting or buttercream will give you something to layer your icing on top of, meaning you can get much better results. If you put the cake in the fridge for one hour before finishing off, you’ll have great icing without any crumbs.

Glazed over: Take care mixing your hot cream and chocolate when you make a chocolate ganache to glaze a cake. You need to ensure the mix doesn’t curdle, which means taking your time as you combine the ingredients. If the ganache does curdle, you can fold a tablespoon of cold cream into it and mix until the ingredients combine smoothly. A teensy bit of glucose syrup can also help smooth your ganache, if required.

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Again, less is more: So this motto appears to be proven true yet again. When piping your icing, the trick is not to overfill the piping back. Using less and then refilling regularly will give you more control over the icing, so you’ll have less chance of making a mess. During refills, you can place your piping bag into a measuring jug so that it stands up.

You spin me right round, baby, right round: Use a turntable or a cake stand when filling or icing your cake. Spinning the cake during this process makes it easier to get all around the edges. You can also use a palette knife to help. Dip it into hot water for a few seconds first to warm the knife up, and then you’ll het an especially smooth and glossy sheen.

Practice makes perfect: Cake decorating is a skill and, like all skills, there’s a degree of learning involved. It’s a good idea, then, to have a go at decorating your cake a few times before you commit to the final thing. You can pick up polystyrene dummies from sugar craft stores, or you can make one yourself. Then you can decorate it again and again, until you get your technique right. If you place a clear sheet of Perspex underneath any design and then follow with your piping bag, you can wipe clean and start again as many times as you need.

About Eric Lanlard

Award-winning master pâtissier and celebrity chef Eric Lanlard has teamed up with Tesco finest* to skilfully craft a ‘Cake Fit for a Queen’ to help the nation celebrate the 90th birthday of our longest reigning monarch. Eric has earned himself an international reputation for outstanding baked creations. His impressive list of clientele includes Her Majesty, The Queen Mother, who commissioned Eric to create a cake to celebrate her 101st birthday as well as the Queen of Pop herself, Madonna.

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The Cake Fit for a Queen entices cake lovers with three indulgent layers of sensational sponge. Two layers of pink velvet sponge are perfectly paired with a luxurious chocolate sponge centre layer and filled with a raspberry conserve for a delicious taste of summer. The cake has been carefully coated by hand in creamy Tesco finest* Madagascan white chocolate buttercream and crowned with delicate prosecco flavoured buttercream roses. Finally, for the perfect finish, the cake has been given a light sprinkle of edible lustre. It makes for the perfect treat to accompany celebrations.

The limited edition Tesco finest* Cake Fit for a Queen is available in 533 stores nationwide until 19 June 2016 at £10.00. It serves 14 people.

About Charlotte Maxwell

Charlotte Maxwell is a Vada Magazine staff writer.