I am not a natural cake decorator as I’ve never had lessons and sugar work isn’t really my thing- I much prefer practical family friendly food and baking in general.
However my sister (yes the same one that got me into other baking related trouble!) asked me to make my mother’s cake for our family celebrations. My mother won’t mind me saying this but she is 90 years young next week. That merits something that takes a bit more effort than just making a nice cake that tastes good. I’ll show you the finished article next week, but today I’ve been rolling out the sugarpaste for the cake and the base board.
I coloured the paste pink yesterday and left it overnight before rolling it out to cover the cakes.
I checked my three favourite cake decorating books and the confusing thing is they all told me something different, so I tried all three.
Peggy Porschen (she made Kate Moss’s wedding cake) doesn’t say how to do it (although she suggests icing sugar for rolling out marzipan). I just rolled directly onto baking paper and it was hopeless.
Fiona Cairns (she made Wills’ and Kate’s cake) suggests you roll out on icing sugar. Fine if you’ve got white sugar paste, but as I quickly realised, hopeless if it’s pink.
Lindy Smith (not made anyone’s cake as far as I can tell, but an acknowledged sugar craft expert) suggests a surface smeared with white fat (I used Trex smeared very lightly on the counter). This worked ok until I had to get it off the surface and onto the rolling pin when it stretched badly.
The technique I actually used which worked a dream was to cling film the counter and then smear the cling film with Trex to roll out. This meant I could lift the edge of the cling film to allow me to drop it onto the rolling pin and then move it onto the cakes without stretching.
So the lesson I have learnt today is actually also a plea to those writing these type of books – know your audience. All 3 books were aimed at the non expert audience but none of their suggested techniques worked for me. Perhaps if I’d done a course I’d have benefitted from some extra tips and guidance, but in the end I’ve worked my own out.
That said all three books are beautiful, inspirational and have provided me with some guidance to ensure that my mother’s cake will be unique and taste good. I don’t regret buying any of them, and would recommend each of them to you if you’re thinking of buying one of them (although Lindy’s has recipes in they are a bit ‘ordinary’ and her aim is really to get you decorating whereas Peggy and Fiona’s books are interested in the cake underneath being a bit unusual as well).
I’ll post a picture of my mother’s cake next week but don’t want to spoil the surprise. She is a silver surfer after all.
If you want me to try some other techniques/comparisons let me know. I’m always keen to embark on kitchen experiments.