Cake decorating

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Buttercream swirls are piped onto the sides of a cake with a pastry bag

Cake decorating is one of the sugar arts that uses icing or frosting and other edible decorative elements to make plain cakes more visually interesting. Alternatively, cakes can be molded and sculpted to resemble three-dimensional persons, places and things.

Cakes are decorated to mark a special celebration (such as a birthday or wedding). They can also mark national or religious holidays, or be used to promote commercial enterprises. However, cakes may be baked and decorated for almost any social occasion.


Two 18th century cakes modelled after Mary and Eliza Chulkhurst

Cake decorating originated in 17th century Europe.[1] During the 1840s, the advent of temperature-controlled ovens and the production of baking powder made baking cakes much easier.[2]As temperature control technology improved, an increased emphasis on presentation and ornamentation developed.[1] Cakes began to take on decorative shapes, were adorned with additional icing formed into patterns and flowers, and food coloring was used to accent frosting or layers of cake.

Cake decorating was rumored to be started by a French bakery in the 1840s where a French baker wanted to increase the prices of the cakes and hence thought to decorate it.[citation needed]

Even though baking from scratch decreased during the latter part of the 20th century in the United States, decorated cakes have remained an important part of celebrations such as weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, showers and other special occasions.[3] Recently, cakes decorated with fondant have become extremely popular and resulted in several reality based TV shows across the country.[citation needed]

The rise in popularity could be due to fondant providing a smooth and elegant finish to a cake, as well fondant's versatility when it comes to texturizing it.[citation needed] A cake turntable (or rotating tray) can be used when decorating a cake.

Types of decorations[edit]

Cake decorations are adornments or embellishments that are placed on top of around cakes. Cake decorations can be made of edible material or food-safe plastics.

A fondant rose edible cake decoration

Fondant, also known as sugar paste or ready roll icing, exists in many different colors, and its initial form is soft and easy to handle. In this form, cake decorators are able to mold fondant into many different artistic expressions. Many of these expressions are also taught in professional cake decorating classes. Fondant is primarily used to cover cakes, but it is also used to create individual show pieces for cakes.

Royal icing is a sweet white icing made by whipping fresh egg whites (or powdered egg whites, meringue powder) with icing sugar.[3] Royal icing produces well-defined icing edges and is ideal for piping intricate writing, borders, scrollwork and lacework on cakes. It dries very hard and preserves indefinitely if stored in a cool, dry place, but is susceptible to soften and wilt in high humidity.

Marzipan is often used for modeling cake decorations and as a base covering underneath fondant.[3]

A bow made from gum paste

Gum paste, also known as florist paste, is an edible, brittle material that dries quickly and can be sculpted to make cake decorations such as flowers or molded designs.[4]

After breakthroughs in nontoxic inks and printing materials in the early 1990s,[5] it became possible to print images and photographs onto edible sheets for use on cakes. Originally introduced as a specialty service provided by bakeries, this technology can now be used by home consumers using specialized kits.[citation needed]

As an art[edit]

Decorating a cake usually involves covering it with some form of icing and then using decorative sugar, candy, chocolate or icing decorations to embellish the cake. But it can also be as simple as sprinkling a fine coat of icing sugar or drizzling a glossy blanket of glaze over the top of a cake. Icing decorations can be made by either piping icing flowers and decorative borders or by molding sugar paste, fondant, or marzipan flowers and figures.

This has become a form of unique artistry, and ranges from a single layered cake, decorated simply, to a multi-layered 3 dimensional creation, that is decorated with edible ribbons made of sugar. Early construction methods of cutting shapes out of cake and piecing them together to create a structure have been superseded by preformed character pans, and the shaping of cakes out of fondant and different forms of marzipan.

Using this new form of fondant artistry should be used on a heavy cake consistency. It can, however, be used on the traditional cake mix purchased in a store. Fondant is heavier than traditional knife spread frosting. Pre-made fondant that is available in the cake decorating section in stores has little flavoring. A homemade fondant can be made quickly for very little cost, and tends to have a better flavor than the pre-made store bought version.[citation needed]

Whether using icing or fondant or marzipan to cover cakes, if a cake has multiple layers then in order to keep it from sliding it may need to be secured using dowels made from plastic straws, bubble tea straws, wooden chopsticks or wooden dowel.[6]

In popular culture[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Beckett, Lynlee (2015). "Cake Decorating: History, Overview and Techniques". Craftsy and Sympoz Inc.Terms of Use. Retrieved March 30, 2015. 
  2. ^ The Food Museum Online Exhibit, Accessed 2007-05-20 (archived link, February 3, 2010)
  3. ^ a b c Cake decorating
  4. ^ "What is the difference between florist paste, gum paste, fondant, mexican paste etc?". Retrieved March 30, 2015. 
  5. ^ Andel, Tom (August 1, 1997). "Get contractors on your team". Transportation & Distribution (Penton Pub.) 38. 
  6. ^ Phillips, Sarah. "Cakes - Stack and Support Layers". 
  7. ^ Bake it as a man
  8. ^ Hochman, David (October 13, 2009). "When the Icing on the Cake Spells Disaster". The New York Times ( Retrieved October 20, 2009. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Cake decoration at Wikimedia Commons