One of the techniques I quickly became obsessed with while working at a bakery was ruffles. This type of decoration has become very popular over the past few years and is traditionally done with fondant that is cut into strips and using a ball tool is frayed and pressed thin along the edge and attached to the cake. There are beautiful ruffle cakes done by a Maggie Austin who is an artisan when it comes to cake decoration http://maggieaustincake.com/. She actually was the one commissioned to make Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds wedding cake so the girl knows her stuff. Craftsy.com, one of my most favorite sites to use to learn new techniques from the comfort of my own home, on my own schedule, is very affordable and actually has a class you can take on how to achieve those amazing looks from the woman herself!
However, fondant and me have yet to meet. While I know eventually I should experiment using it since it can broaden the range of things you can do when it comes to decoration, there is just something about it that makes me cringe. Why would I want to cover a delicious cake with a pasty, chewy layer that’s only real purpose is to preserve it longer and potentially give me a canvas to do crazy designs on?? There is so much that could be done using just buttercream which is equally as amazing!!!
Therefore I try and continually practice icing cakes to look like they’ve been covered in fondant. While this process is a lot more labor intensive, I would rather perfect a cake using buttercream and be able to enjoy every bite than peel off the outside. I encourage you to use youtube or craftsy.com to find videos on how to properly frost cakes. The steps below are the usual ways I go about it. As I said, I’m still learning and it’s not perfect so any helpful tips are encouraged!
Tools you will need:
- Turning cake stand
- Cake boards
- Bench scraper
- Offset spatulas
- Pastry bags
- Assorted tips (For the ruffle you will need a rose tip. I have both a Wilton 104 and Ateco 103)
- Glass of warm water
Frosting a regular cake:
- Bake your favorite cake recipe. I’ve personally grown to love taller cakes so I try to make them with 3-6 layers. Obviously cakes with 6 layers contain thinner cake layers than ones with 3 so it’s all about the ratio and look you are going for.
- Cool the cakes completely and wrap in plastic and place in the fridge overnight. This will make working with the cake so much easier because it won’t crumble or fall apart as much as it would if it were at room temp and freshly baked.
- When you’re ready to start assembling, it’s best to use a turn style cake stand and have cake boards that are the right circumference to the size of the cake.
- Place your first layer on top of the cake board and trim off the top so you have a flat working surface. If you are opting to do a filling like a custard or jam, it is best to do a ring of frosting along the rim of the cake so it doesn’t push out when you add additional cake layers. If your going the traditional route then just spread the frosting over top using your offset spatula and try not to actually touch the cake as you move the frosting back and forth to avoid crumbs from picking up.
- Trim your other cake layers prior to stacking the same way you did the first one. Once the final layer is on top, do a thin coat of frosting around the entire cake. This does not need to be perfect. It is only a layer coat to lock in any of those rogue crumbs hence the name “crumb coat.”
- Place the cake in the fridge for about half an hour to let it harden.
- Take out the cake and apply an even layer using both your offset spatula and bench scraper. This is where you will need the most patience. Start with applying a large dollop on top and rotate the stand keeping your offset flat on top of the frosting. Then add frosting to your spatula and coat the sides by once again continually turning the stand.
- Then go back with your bench scraper and keeping it flat with the base of the table, rotate the base and slightly touch the scraper to the frosting so it pulls off and smooths any uneven nicks.
- So here is where the perfectionist in me comes out and I could spend hours trying to make it look perfect. My best advice is after you get to a place where it’s mostly perfect put it back in the fridge to harden again. Take it back out and revaluate if you want to do another layer.
- Once you feel it’s pretty much done you can also keep a warm glass of water handy and dip your bench scraper into it prior to using it to pull off the excess frosting. This will allow it to glide easier over the final coat.
- Follow the same steps above up to #5. Because you are doing ruffles around the entire cake there is no need to do anything other than a crumb coat to lock in the cake. The only difference is to make sure you make the top of the cake frosting layer even and smooth since that will be visible.
- Place your rose tip at the end of a pastry bag and fill with the frosting. Holding the bag perpendicular to the cake so that the larger part of the tip is touching, evenly pipe the frosting while rotating the stand. You can move your hand slightly up and down but when you use a meringue based buttercream it will hold it’s form extremely well.
- Continue around the entire cake stacking the frosting tightly and evenly on top of one another.
- The result will hopefully be a ruffled cake!