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.
History of Cake Decorating
During the 1840s, the advent of temperature-controlled ovens and the production of baking powder made baking cakes much easier.
Cake decorating was rumoured to start 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.
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. Recently, cakes decorated with fondant have become extremely popular and resulted in several reality based TV shows across the world.
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
Cake decorating as an art
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. A person’s imagination can create anything. From a single layered cake, decorated simply, to a multi-layered 3 dimensional creation, that is decorated with edible ribbons made of sugar. What was once a fun way to make a child’s birthday cake, by cutting shapes out of cake and piecing them together to create a shape, has gone into preformed character pans, and now has become shaping creations 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. Homemade fondant tends to have a better flavor than the pre-made store bought version.
Fondant 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. Silicone Molds have become very popular in the use of creating figurines for cakes, cake toppers and Toppers for Cup Cakes.
Royal icing is a sweet white icing made by whipping fresh egg whites (or powdered egg whites, meringue powder) with icing sugar.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.
Sugar paste is a substance used in cake decorating to create flower decorations. Marzipan is often used for modeling cake decorations and as a base covering underneath fondant.
Professional institutes, such as Le Cordon Bleu, have begun segregating their cookery schools, to create completely separate institutes dedicated to cake-making.
Silicone mold care
1. Store your silicone molds in a single, flat layer. Storing them in a pile may cause them to bend and warp. Once a silicone mold is warped, it cannot be undone. Hint: To create more storage space, use a piece of cardboard on top of a layer of molds to create a new storage layer. Be sure to evenly distribute the molds on the next layer.
2. Store your silicone molds cool, dry area, out of direct sunlight. Excessive heat can cause the molds to warp or breakdown.
3. If you’re not going to be using your silicone mold for awhile, consider storing a casting in the mold to help insure it will retain its shape.
4. Do not pierce holes in your mold. This may cause the mold to lose its shape.
5. When finished with your silicone mold, wash it with warm water and mild soap before storing. Do not use solvents to clean your mold and do not place it in the dishwasher. Make sure your molds are completely dry before storing.
What is Silicone and is it Toxic?
Silicone has quickly become a household name in the fall-out of toxic plastics. Its starring role begins right away as we introduce it to our babies from the day they’re born. It’s been touted as inert, toxin-free and versatile. But just what is silicone and is it really as great as it sounds?
We decided to give silicone a thorough background check. We started with Wise Geek, The Silicone Zone and Mindful Momma, then tapped into our favorite resource, Stacey Feeley of Silikids.
Wise Geek explains that silicone is often confused with silicon, which is an abundant natural element found in the earth. Silicone does contain silicon and harnesses many of its mineral properties and is composed of both organic and inorganic polymers.
The Silicone Zone gives a great background on silicone:
Silicone is a class of inorganic rubbers of various compositions and formulas made by linking silica atoms. Silicone was developed for its superior reliability, long life, and extreme temperature adaptability and stability. It will not become misshapen or break down due to extreme temperature exposure. Silicones can be found in liquid and solid form depending upon uses and curing process.
Micaela of Mindful Momma answers questions of safety and recyclability in her article Spotlight on Silicone.
Is silicone safe to use with food?
In terms of safety, silicone seems to have a good track record. It is an inert material, therefore it does not react with food or beverages, or produce any hazardous fumes. I did a lot of searching on the web and there appear to be no known health hazards associated with use of silicone kitchen products – even with baking. I just hope that’s still true in 10 years…
Is silicone recyclable?
Silicone does not decompose but it is recyclable – although probably not through your city-wide recycling program. You’ll probably have to drive to a specialty recycling facility – but then again, silicone is very durable so you won’t have to worry about disposal for a long time.
So far, the only thing I’ve seen made from recycled silicone are those stretchy bracelets that people wear for every cause known to man…but I bet there are some industrial uses for it too.
Q & A with Stacey
Why did you choose Silicone for the Silikids line of baby products?
Silicone is hygienic and hypoallergenic. Its rubber like material is safe, durable and pliable, there are no open pores to harbor bacteria.
Silicone is easy to use and to clean. Microwave or freezer safe/dishwasher and washer & dryer friendly.
Silicone does not fade or scratch.
Silicone is extreme temperature resistant.
What is the difference between food grade and medical grade silicone?
Basically, the main difference is that medical grade is specifically made so that it can stay in the body for more than 30 days. The textures vary a bit as well. Most pacifiers and bottle nipples are be made out of medical grade silicone, while cookware and food containers are made from food grade silicone. We like to use food grade because it holds up better when boiled, microwaved put in the dishwasher, etc.
Should we be concerned about using pacifiers and nipples that are made from food grade silicone?
I wouldn’t be concerned with a food grade pacifier. Many silicone spoons are as well made from food grade silicone. Either way, silicone is a very safe material.