Friday, October 29, 2010

Decorating a cake is not as easy as you think...

I optimistically started writing this post before I actually iced the cake, thinking that I could just slot in the photos afterwards and would be ready to post. Things didn't really go quite as smoothly as I thought, turns out icing a cake is hard! I've kept my original post but updated it in red with what actually happened.

I started off by baking a carrot cake. This is a Rachel Allen recipe which is available online here. I also have her book Bake which is a lovely recipe book, focusing mainly on cakes and breads but with a few savoury recipes too. Any recipe will do but I liked the fact that this one calls for a good amount of grated carrot.

I made this cake last night as there wouldn't have been enough time to let it cool before icing it. Have you ever iced a cake before letting it cool properly? It will look OK for a couple of minutes but then the heat from the cake will melt the icing and it will all subside and look like the saddest thing in the world. For decorative purposes I'm going to be using fondant icing. I don't really like fondant icing at all so to make up for this I cut the cake in half horizontally and filled it with cream cheese icing. I also smeared the top of the cake with the cream cheese icing to fill in all the lumps and bumps and create a smooth surface for the fondant to sit on.

* Update * The cream cheese icing oozed out of the middle and slipped down the sides creating little tumour like bulges at the base of the cake.
Phase two involved heating up some apricot jam and spreading this onto the cake to give the fondant icing something to stick to.

* Update * I skipped phase two.

Now its time for srs bsns. I went to three different supermarkets and none of them had the icing I was planning on buying (this icing if you're curious). Instead I bought plain white icing and some liquid food colouring and coloured the icing myself.

* Update * This was the most stressful thing I've ever done in my life. I had to add loads of food colouring to get a good colour and the icing basically turned to paint in my hands. I had to keep putting it in the freezer to let it harden up again.

I only managed to take three photos of the whole process:

White icing before I coloured it.

Mixing the yellow and red food colouring.

After this point I went to pick cup the rolled icing 'supporting it with my rolling pin' only to find it was the texture of a damp tissue. My fingers sank through it, it hung limply and stuck together before shredding apart. This is not as easy as it looked in all the demo videos I watched on you tube. Eventually I managed to cover the cake with a patchwork of orange and put it in the fridge to harden. After refreshing myself with some wine and a Chinese take away I took the green icing out of the freezer and found that it turned back to liquid as soon as I touched it. By this point I had had enough so I blobbed on some leaves and had done with it.

I'll take some photos of it at the party this evening and let you know how it goes down.

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