This season’s Great British Bake Off (GBBO) on Channel 4 is in full swing and you may already know we are firm fans of this iconic series. In short, GBBO inspires you to pick up your apron and get baking at home, while you watch TV judges putting the pressure on the aspiring bakers. From decorative cakes to desserts, the contestants have to whip up their best dishes in the hope of winning the coveted title of Best Baker and not get voted out.
Thankfully, GBBO’s Cake Week and Biscuit Week have already given us plenty to tickle our tastebuds. However, we’ve got just the thing to help you satisfy your sweet cravings with your own homemade mouth-watering creations. We asked GBBO finalist Alice Fevronia to explain how to master the art of decorative cakes. So, on your marks, get set, bake…
If you want to get really creative in the kitchen, why not consider baking decorative cakes? In fact, this is easier than you may think and it’s often assumed that you need fancy equipment and a range of culinary skills. However, you’ll find some basic tools and a little bit of patience will enable you to make simple but effective decorative cakes.
The key is to pick a colour scheme and make a rough decorative design plan before you begin. This will give you a good grounding for your cake. Your design might change as you go, but just see where your creativity takes you! If you’ve got your heart set on piping, make sure you practice on some baking paper first. This way, you can fine-tune your skills before applying these to your decorative cake.
I started baking when I was very young and I’ve found practice can make perfect when it comes to successful cake decorating. However, we’ve all got so much to learn as new techniques and trends for decorative cakes constantly evolve. So, I enjoy finding the ones I like and then experimenting with them. I must admit I’m personally not a fondant fan. This is because I find it difficult to work with, so I tend to stick with buttercream cakes. However, I know some people who feel the opposite, so I suggest you find what works for you.
Cake decoration can instantly provide you with the chance to add your own artistic flair. In fact, I often don’t know what my designs will look like when I start decorating but I always make a rough plan. Then, if I have a sudden brainwave and my design ends up going in a different direction, I go with it.
Before you start decorating it’s really important to achieve the right buttercream consistency. If it’s too thick, for example, it will be difficult to work with. However, if your buttercream is too thin, you’re likely to have a sloppy mess on your hands. Don’t forget that room temperature can affect your cake decoration too. In summer, I find it can be better to use a ganache or an Italian meringue buttercream rather than an American-style buttercream. This is because the former is more stable and, therefore, performs better in hot weather.
Cake decoration possibilities are endless, and I feel there’s something so special about baking your own, decorating it and sharing the results with others. This can be such a great way to bring people together to celebrate an occasion. Birthday and wedding cakes are filled with tradition and symbolism. Whats not to love about something that’s beautiful to look at and delicious to eat on any occasion?
I tend to theme my cakes around whatever may be happening at that time, especially if there’s a birthday or other celebration. I also enjoy personalising my decorative cakes to suit the person/people each one is for. I usually base my creations around the seasons or certain events throughout the year; from Halloween and Easter to Christmas, these are great excuses for anyone to make a decorative cake.
In the first instance, buy a simple piping nozzle set, good quality food colouring and a palette knife. This way, you’ve got all the tools you’ll need to make a whole host of cake designs. Then my best advice is to get stuck in! YouTube is a great place to learn new techniques. However, I’ve also learnt a lot from trial and error over the years. Always remember, even if your decorative cake doesn’t look like you envisaged, it will still taste delicious.
Not only can you currently enjoy GBBO but, don’t forget, you’ve got National Baking Week to look forward to next week (14-20th October) too. This is a brilliant campaign to get Britain baking. Not that this makes much difference to me as this form of cooking is my ‘every day’! But I do think this will provide you with another great chance to feel inspired to bake and have your oven gloves at the ready.
Baking is such a great hobby – it’s relaxing, creative and you have the joy of eating and sharing your work. I really think it can bring so much joy to a lot of people. This year, I will be celebrating National Baking Week in my Caple kitchen, where I will make something delicious to share with my friends and family.
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