Shortbreads are tasty and easy to prepare, and they are great for a variety of occasions. Ready cookies can also be decorated in many interesting ways. Here are some of them.
Decorating cakes in our time has grown to the rank of art. On the market there is a wide selection of tools and products that make the whole process easier and give the opportunity to achieve unique effects. At our disposal we have icings, chocolates, sprinkles in different shapes and colors, food coloring, rainbow sugar, ready-made confectionery decorations and stencils. Of the helpful tools, it is worth pointing out spatulas, confectionery sleeves and markers. So let’s take a closer look at some decorating methods and useful gadgets.
Icing – types and application
Probably the most popular way of decorating cakes is icing. Icing originated in Great Britain and the recipe was first published in 1769. Initially it was used to decorate wedding cakes for parties of the royal family hence the name of one type – royal icing. Currently there are 4 types of icing:
- classic glossy is the most popular and the easiest to prepare. Its consistency does not allow to create more sophisticated decorations. It is most often used for decorating donuts and Easter cakes. Its ingredients are powdered sugar and water;
- royal icing, known as royal icing, is the best choice for decorating gingerbread, cookies and cakes. It sets quickly, is durable, and forms a smooth and firm layer on the surface of the cake. Its secret lies in beaten egg whites. Thanks to them the icing is thick and works great in preparing various decorations, such as edible flowers, leaves, figurines. To prepare it you need egg whites, powdered sugar and lemon juice;
- plastic icing otherwise known as sugar paste or fondant.
It resembles plasticine in consistency. It is most often used for preparing various decorations and figurines, as well as coating cakes. To prepare it you need powdered sugar, powdered glucose, gelatin, cold water and any food flavoring;
- fondant – is a thick icing most often used on eclairs and American donuts. It is prepared from powdered sugar, water and potato syrup, for which ten percent vinegar may be a substitute.
Sample recipe for royal icing
- 30 g egg whites;
- 150 g powdered sugar;
- 3 drops of lemon juice.
Sieve the icing sugar through a sieve. Separate egg whites from yolks and pour into a bowl. Add to them lemon juice and sugar. Whole process for about 15 minutes with a mixer on the lowest speed. Ready frosting will be smooth and shiny.
Decorating cakes with icing – practical tips
For decorating shortcrust pastries a shimmering icing is best suited. However, for creating more elaborate designs it is better to prepare royal icing. You can calmly change the proportions in the recipe to get a more liquid variant. Rigid icing, as the name suggests, is ideal for making harder and roomier pieces, as well as attaching larger decorations. When thinned slightly with water or lemon juice, stiff icing is ideal for making outlines. Even more diluted liquid icing with the consistency of honey will be used to fill them. Remember that every time you dilute and stir the icing, you have to leave it under plastic wrap for at least 30 minutes to ventilate.
Decorating with chocolate
To decorate the cakes with chocolate, you can prepare a thinner chocolate coating and pour it over the cakes on one or both sides. Another option is to prepare a thicker coating and use it to create patterns on the cake. The chocolate you use can be bitter, milk or even white. It all depends on your preference.
Chocolate frosting – recipe
- 100 g butter or margarine;
- 50 g cocoa;
- 120 g icing sugar;
- 4 tablespoons of milk for the butter and 2 for the margarine.
Melt the butter (or margarine), add cocoa, sifted icing sugar and milk. Remove from gas and stir thoroughly with a whisk. If the topping is too thick, add some milk and mix again.
The topping can also be made from chocolate alone. Just break it into pieces and melt in a water bath. It will be perfect for topping your baked goods and will be very hard when set. You can also add a little milk to the chocolate – the more milk you add, the less thick and hard the coating will be.
How to use food coloring?
Food coloring is available in liquid, gel or powder. Confectioners mostly recommend the free-flowing ones because they don’t dilute the frosting as much as the liquid ones, while the gel ones often contain glycerin, which softens the frosting. Additionally, powdered dyes are more economical and last a long time. The final choice depends on what you want to dye, because while a dye powder is better for icing, it’s more convenient to color sugar with a liquid dye.
Using the dyes is child’s play. Just add the color of your choice directly to the raw cake or clear frosting and you’re done. Of course, you can mix the dyes any way you like and create custom color variations. It’s also a good idea to save a portion of white icing in case the color comes out too dark.
Sugar, sweets and all sorts of lovely things
In addition to icing and chocolate, you can use sprinkles in different colors and shapes, edible glitter, coconut and chocolate chips, flaked almonds, crushed nuts, coarse sugar, and food coloring to decorate your cookies. The possibilities are truly plentiful. On the market there are many stores that offer a wide range of such products – to choose from, to color.
Of course, it is unlikely to do without icing, because the sprinkles must stick to something. Also, with food coloring it is better to paint on a layer of white icing, rather than directly on the surface of the cake. This way, the effects will be more visible.
Helpful tools of a beginner confectioner
If you lack artistic skills, use special decorating tools. You can apply icing using a spritzer with an interchangeable tip, a bottle, a marker, or a candy sleeve that you fill with the sweet mixture. In this way you can put any patterns, stencils, drawings and inscriptions on the cake. In addition, the interchangeable tips of the spritzers and decorators allow you to create designs of different shapes and thicknesses. Icing can also be modeled by hand, cut out with knives, as well as special molds, templates and rollers with embossing in various shapes.