Cake Tutorial – Then you ice it

Fast-forward about 5 hours, and this is what you have:

In order to decorate this cake, I needed to fill and ice each cake, stack them, and then decorate the assembled structure.  The process for icing any cake is the same sans stacking (you know, unless there is staking and then it is just the same…)

1. Make Filling.  Normally I just use pudding cups, a standard 8″ will require 2 pudding cups, or lemon pie filling (I usually need about 1/2-2/3 of the can).  But this time I went with something different, and combined 2 tubs of cool whip and one package of instant pudding; dump all in stand mixer and blend.

(It tastes better than it looks.)

2. Make icing.  Homemade icing is easy and tastes WAY better than the stuff from a can.  For the standard 8″ I end up needing one batch, maybe two, for this one I started with a double and then did up a third.  I start with a cup of shortening for each batch, add a tsp of flavouring (I used clear vanilla for this one), and then add icing sugar and small amounts of hot water until it tastes right and is the proper consistency, either creamy for spreading or thick-ish for decorating. (really helpful, I know, but honestly it would be worse if I said 4c. and 3Tbsp and then it didn’t work and your icing was rock hard or runny… besides, we’re knitters and improve we can handle) ;)

(I think I used 2+ bags of icing sugar for this.)

3. Cut cakes.  In order to ice and fill the cakes you need to cut them.  Since I use the 3″ high pans, what I do is: cut off the top (that is the rounded bit, so as to make a flat surface), and then cut two layers.  To cut the cake: place it on the turn table (if you don’t have one you can place a platter on a hand-towel), place a bread knife into the edge of the cake where you want to make the cut (ie. at the top of where the sides are even, or the side of the cake about an inch from the top) and holding your arm in tight to your body make a gentle sawing motion while turning the cake.  Once you have scored the cake all around continue to saw and turn until you’ve cut through the whole thing.  Then remove the portion you’ve cut off.  If it is the ‘cake top’ feed it to bystanders, if it is one of the layers transfer it to another plate.  Continue cutting layers as needed (if you baked two separate layers then cut the tops off of each and proceed).

(This is the first layer being cut, see the discarded top laying on the platter in the back.)

(For the 12″ cake I didn’t need to cut the top off as it wasn’t mounded – I did still ice it upside down though- this illustrates the cutting through the middle of the cake part.)

4. Fill.  Take the first layer you cut off, place it on a cake board or plate or piece of cardboard or whatever on top of the turn table with the ‘cake top’ side down (your final cake will be the original one upside down, the end that was in the cake pan makes a better shape for the top of the finished product).  Fill a piping bag (or a sandwhich bag with a corner cut out) with icing and pipe a line around the top of the cake (you can use a large round tip or no tip for this).  Scoop filling into the circle on the top of the cake and use a spatual or knife to spread it around, filling up the circle.

(I did a double thickness of icing, as I was using a fairly narrow tip.)

(Just spread to the icing, you want icing not filling oozing out the sides.  Otherwise you’ll get filling mixed in with the actual icing for the side of the cake.)

5. Top and repeat.  Take the next layer and place it on top of the filling and press down gently, there will probably be some oozing (this is one of the reasons why you pipe an icing boarder, so you won’t have filling oozing out, just icing).  Then place the last layer on top and press. 

(Be gentle, but firm – btw: cake mixes don’t necessarily hold up well to this kind of man handling, scratch cake (like the one in the first part) produce better results with less craking, crumbs, crying, and swearing.)

6. Ice top.  Once I’d filled all of the layers (NTS- fill them smallest to largest), it was time to ice the outsides.  So place the cake back on the turn table (or don’t take it off…) and dust off the cake and turn table. Scoop a large-ish heap of icing onto the top of the cake, and spread this around.  I love my cake spatuals, they make the spreading nice and easy.  To ice without getting lots of crumbs, use the spatula to spread the icing around by pushing the icing, don’t ever touch the cake with the spatula (and remove crumbs if you manage to collect them any way).

(Icing can be used to fill in cracks and holes… like the one in this layer that I made with one of the cooling racks as I was flipping it around. If you won’t tell, I won’t tell.)

7. and sides.  To ice the side load up the spatual and apply a wad of icing to the side of the cake.  Now push this back and forth around the cake, turning and adding more icing as necessary.

(The blurry bit is the spatual moving the icing side to side and dragging it around as I turn the platform.)

8. Smooth.  Once the cake is covered you can smooth everything out, sides then top. 

9. Doweling.  For the stacked cake, I needed to make sure that the lower layers would support the upper ones, to do this I figured out where to position the cake, and then insterted 5 wooden dowels into the lower cake and put the upper one on top of this.  I cut them to the right height using a serated knife.  NB: cake boards cut to the size of the cake go under each upper layer, this makes it possible to cut them one layer at a time, then remove the board and cut the next, it also makes it possible for them to sit nicely on top of eachother without sinking and breaking up.

(As you can see “smooth” is a relative term, I don’t ever worry about getting it absolutely smooth, no one is really going to care and if that is what you want, then fondant is the way to go.)

10. Decorate.  I piped a basic scalloped edge border around the bottom of each cake, using a larger star tip (#23 I think) for the large two cakes and a smaller one (#21 I think) for the upper one (or was that 21 and 18…), using the same white icing.  I then mixed colour (daffodil yellow, pink, and moss green/forest green/brown) into small bowls of icing – I use Wilton cake colours as well as another brand whose name I can’t remember… they are in similar small jars with red lables… they make better dark colours, ie. red, purple, etc.  Using a rose tip (I think 104), and pink and yellow icing, I piped alternating coloured rose buds into the lower border of the lower cake, then using a smaller one (101 I think…) I did the same on the lower border of the middle cake, and both upper and lower border of the top.  Using the leaf tip (I don’t remember its number but it looks like a V) and the green I added a leaf to each rose bud. Then using a small round tip I piped a 50 on the top.  I suck a writing, so I avoid putting a lot of that on cakes.

(Simple is better, you can be tempted to do too much, better to leave off then go overboard.)

8. Admire and enjoy!  It is now Sunday night and the whole thing is gone.  It seems to have gone over quite well.

(And know that most people will not care or even notice that things are a little lopsided or uneven.  And if anyone does, just take their piece away!)

I don’t have any pictures of people eating the cake – but here is mom all dressed up for the party.

(The hat – has a tiara attached… that blinks!!)

PS. On the fiber front, since this is my knitting blog after all, I had my spinning out for awhile until it got too crowded.  Today I wound off what I’ve spun, as I was afraid it was getting too heavy for the single.  I now have a 32gr, c. 26wpi ball of pretty.    (It took me most of 30 Days of Night and then some to skein and then wind the single into a ball, I think I’m going to let it sit a bit and then try to navajo ply it).

(See, see, I do pre-draft!!)

(It seemed so much bigger on the spindle…)

PPS. I educated my grandfather on the persitence of the spinning wheel industry, as he didn’t think they made them any more.

3 thoughts on “Cake Tutorial – Then you ice it

  1. Now THAT is a lovely cake. Almost a shame to eat it.

    By the way, I was caught by curiosity and clicked on your ChoreWars. Think it’s a grand idea so I signed up – but sadly, I cannot count my chores until I join a party.

    And I have no party to join. Poor me. Do you think you could invite me to yours?

    Lady Bewildered Housewife

  2. OMG. I’m so enthralled. I saw Martha Stewart do the doweling thing once and it made so much sense and I was in awe too.

    The pudding filling idea is so fantastico too. Yum. Lucky mum to get this cake!

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