Strategies for Wedding Cake Decorating
The art of wedding cake decorating can seem a mysterious one to outsiders
(such as an engaged couple) because the industry practically has its
Phrases like fondant, gum paste and Cornelli piping are
thrown around as the bride tries to explain that she just wants the cake to
look like lace.
While almost all bakers who do wedding cakes will try to work with you in simple terms to
realize your ideal cake, being familiar with the terms of the trade can make the process
go a lot smoother (like buttercream)
Other than the obvious ingredient of icing it is a good
idea to consider ahead of time whether you would like any piping (and what kind) or what
material you would like your decorations crafted out of.
Types of Icing:
Buttercream: This is a favorite tool of wedding cake decorating. A creamy, rich icing made from
butter and/or shortening combined with icing sugar. The texture is smooth and it can be easily
colored or flavored. Buttercream’s uses other than icing include filling, piping, and rosettes.
NOTE: As the ingredients should suggest, this icing does not hold up well under heat or humidity.
Fondant: Also known as sugar paste, this sugar “dough” can be rolled out and draped over a cake
for a glossy finish and a solid base for decorations and architecture. The taste isn’t as good as
Buttercream but this will hold up better under heat.
Ganache: A medium density icing made with either white or dark chocolate melted with heavy cream.
Ganache can also be used as a filling. NOTE: Again, as the ingredients should suggest, this icing
does not hold up well under heat or humidity.
Marzipan: Often used as a layer between the cake and fondant, marzipan can also be rolled and draped
as an icing of its own or molded into decorations. NOTE: The ingredients of marzipan include almonds
so steer clear if you have nut allergies.
Royal icing: Sweet icing made of whipped egg whites and icing sugar. It preserves well under the
right temperatures (read: not hot and humid) When it dries, it’s hard consistency lends well to
intricate details such as writing, lacing and borders.
Piping (general): If you’ve ever watched a baking show on television and seen someone
gently guiding an icing-type material out of a metal-tipped bag, that was piping. From birthday
cakes to wedding cake decorations, piping is a standard way to give your cake borders, patterns and rosettes.
Basketweave: Vertical and horizontal lines weave together like a basket, thus the name.
Cornelli: Elaborate technique that creates a lace-like pattern. This is the type of piping
used when a bride asks for the cake to match the lacework of her dress or veil.
Dotted swiss: Random patterns of tiny dots that resemble a fine fabric.
Latticework: Criss-crossing pattern that resembles a garden lattice.
The most fun in wedding cake decorating can be had with the add-ons. Fresh flowers,
sugar flowers, and fruit are just a few examples of what can be placed on a cake.
There are so many options that it is best to look at pictures of other cakes to give
you some hints or ask your cake creator what their opinions are in regards to the theme of your wedding.
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