Today we’ve got a guest post from a possible future contributor. Although with this cake decorating tutorial, you’ll be hoping as much as me that she chooses to stay on long term. 😉
Hi! I’m Dana, born and raised in NC. I’m a Christ follower, police wife and stay at home mother to two precious boys Leeland (3) and Hayden (1). I’m a home baker, crafting junkie and coffee addict. Come by our family blog and say hello sometime http://nestofkrohs.blogspot.
The kitchen is my happy place, I’ve always said that. The ability to take simple ingredients and combine them to make a dish that pleases crowds, or even just pleases two picky children is very rewarding. But as much as I love cooking and the ability to create, baking is where the real magic happens! Sweets just make people happy, and to hear the “oooh” and “ahh” of happy people enjoying a large slice of beautiful cake, now that is magic!
With that said, there’s no better excuse than Christmas to make a delicious and beautiful cake. And since most holiday gatherings revolve around homemade baked treats, you might want to show up at your next holiday get together with this Christmas cake!
To decorate this Christmas cake, naturally you start out with a cooled, fresh baked cake. Don’t feel like you have to get too crazy, the holiday season is crazy enough, feel free to give yourself some grace through a little short cut called box cake mix if you’d like. Most of them are fool proof and once you decorate it with homemade buttercream, no one will know. The cake I’ve made is your typical pound cake recipe with a super special ingredient called Christmas Spirit, which is more commonly known as eggnog. Once your cake has cooled, you want to level off the tops with a knife if they have domed over in the oven. And I just have to say, I can’t stress enough letting the cake cool!
Feel free to snack on those trimmed tops while you decorate.
Next you’ll stack your cake layers on a cake board with a filling gluing them together. You can get as fancy as you’d like, but I usually just use the same buttercream I’m using to decorate with.
Now here’s the most important part to any cake you decorate. The bakers secret…. Ssshhhh, don’t tell. The secret to a beautiful cake is all in the “crumb coat,” which is also called “dirty icing.” Basically you put a super thin layer of icing all over the cake. It picks up the crumbs and they dry into it. Once the thin layer of icing has dried, you can proceed with decorating. Your decoration will go right on top of that crumb coat, and all of the crumbs and the flaws that the cake may have had will be covered, so don’t stress on the crumb coat, just slap it on and let it dry.
Once the crumb coat has dried, it’s time to start decorating!
To make this Christmas cake, you’ll need piping bags (I use the Wilton reusable ones), #2A decorators tip (or a large round tip similar to it), a spreader/spatula, your buttercream frosting, Wilton gel food colors if you like color, and I’m making some additional decorations with chocolate “Candiquik.”
I started by making my chocolate decorations so that they could dry/harden while I decorate the cake. I used a piping bag and a small round tip (#2) to pipe out chocolate Christmas trees onto some parchment paper.
So just a heads up as you’re doing this– do you notice the giant chocolate smear in the top left corner? I just want you to know that the beauty of cake decorating is that nothing is ever “messed up” or wrong. Those smears were where my original idea was to make the trees with a spoon, but I didn’t like the look, so I scraped the chocolate up and placed it in a piping bag to pipe them. When dealing with icing and chocolate, you can always have a second or even a third go at it. I’ve scraped icing off of a finished cake before because I didn’t like the look of it. Does it take time to redo? Yes, but if you aren’t happy with something, or make a mistake, it’s nice to know it isn’t permanent.
This style of decorating is often called “petals” or the “petal cake.” I’ve made them numerous times, in various colors and in various styles. The original idea I found from Hungry Housewife. It’s super simple, and quite the crowd pleaser. Basically you take your piping bag fitted with a large round tip and make a large dot of icing, smear it, another large dot, smear it, and continue to go around the cake. Start at the bottom and work your way up in rows, then you can decide if you want to add petals to the top or not.
When you get to the end of a row, do your best to smear and seam the first and last together. Ultimately, if it doesn’t look seamless, it’s the back of the cake….
And when you finish your rows and add your chocolate trees, this is finished product…
Happy cake eating and Merry Christmas!