How do I ice a cake? Is there a system?
Last time I just used a knife to spread the frosting. My SO's sister said that there is a way to do it smoother.
What kind of cake? What you could do is get a baking spatula, it's like flat and the handle is a little bent. Like this one
Then take a serrated knife (bread knife) and go in a back and forth motion. It isn't very hard and makes a cake look nice for a novice. Then take either coconut or chopped nuts and press them onto the rim/sides of the cake. You could also add some strawberry halves to the top to make it look pretty. You could also use a ziploc bag and snip the corner filled with icing and do a free form pattern with melted chocolate. OR you could make a ganache and its pretty fool proof and you don't have to be perfect, but you gotta let it dry. Or take powdered sugar and sift it on the top of a cake.
Once again, my cake was horrible!! This time I was told that it tasted like banana bread. I agree.
Here's some tips. HTH!...
-When using a slippery filling like fruit or custard, pipe some frosting on top of the bottom layer about 1/2" from the edge before you put the filling on. It will keep it from oozing out and ruining the outside icing when you put that on.
- When you ice a cake, make sure your frosting is soft, smooth and easily spreadable. If it's too hard or thick it will tear your cake up and make a mess! The consistency of the icing is really important, but it just takes practice to get it right IMO.
-Start by placing the icing on top of the cake in a big blob and then sort of smooth it out to the edges and down the sides. If you start with the sides you'll have a really hard time!
-To get the outside really smooth, do a "crumb coat." Once you have your filling in and your layers assembled, brush the outside of the cake carefully to get any excess crumbs off. Spread a very thin layer of frosting on the whole cake then refrigerate it until the icing hardens slightly. Then you can take it out and put your pretty icing on without having to worry about messy crumbs.
- I also suggest investing in these two things-- a metal cake spatula and a Wilton decorating gun. You can get them at craft stores inexpensively and they make things sooooo much easier!
As for the cake itself, Betty Crocker recipes are great if you follow them exactly. Using sifted cake flour is important too. You can change the flavoring for variation, but it's important not to change the amounts of (or omit or add) structural ingredients or the cake just won't turn out right. Baking is chemistry so precision is key!
^^^Agree completely with the above^^^
The key _really_ is getting your icing to the right consistency. Too thick and it rips the cake, too wet and it slides off.
The consistency should spread like soft butter or nonrefrigerated creamy FRESH peanut butter. When you take a butter knife, the icing should just slide across a surface without rolling up on you or missing spots because it clung to the knife instead of spreading where you want it to... For SURE you cannot get canned icing to behave properly as that is WAY too stiff.
And baking is a true science. Most people prefer cake boxes because they are pretty much fail proof if you follow the instructions, but I think they lack "oomph". A lot of people swear by doctoring cakes (books like the Cake Doctor) which uses the cake mix as a base and adds to it for better flavor and consistency.
I have bought SEVERAL cake books and I still find the most reliable and generally the most tasty cakes to come from my old Better Homes and Garden cookbook. The cakes are always moist and always flavorful.
But yes, measuring can't be "close" but RIGHT ON. When it says a level teaspoon, make it level. When you measure cups, level it off and definitely sift your flours to remove clumps (most recipes mean to have you sift after measuring saying, "4 cups of flour, then sifted". Others mean for you to sift first and then measure, "Sifted 4 cups flour". Now do you need to use cake flour? No, all-purpose is just fine. It takes a LOT of practice to be able to know what you can add to a recipe or not to keep it from failing.
As far as what you need to ice a cake. Sure, better tools help (an icing spatula is a great tool), but you can get the same effect from a butter knife as long as your icing is the right consistency.
Crumb coating, believe it or not, actually means you put LESS icing on a cake too since you put a very thin layer on to start out with (scraping excess off when smoothing the crumb coat). The second layer then is purely "finishing" it off.
Lastly, people just have to realize that circular cakes are easier to make "pretty" than squares or rectangles and so on.
And, even the best of them still have bad cake days!
^ All purpose flour does work fine, but cake flour makes for a better texture. It has significantly less protein/ gluten which results in a much softer, more tender cake. It's not a huge deal, but it does make a noticeable difference IMHO ....
Agree! Me and MIL took the cake classes at the local cake shop and the instructor taught us to mix the frosting with a TINY bit of water for the crumb coat. After the cake has cooled I put a super thin coat of the water/icing mixture over the cake and then put it in the fridge for awhile so that the crumb coat dries and then I frost Hope that helps.
Thank you everyone!!
wow these are really great tips!