Decorators can easily create highlights and depth in their designs by using some simple airbrushing techniques.
Using an airbrush can save time and add depth of color to your designs. By using white icing or fondant to cover cakes and making most of your decorations in white, you can reduce inventory. Several airbrushing techniques are shown, but not all are needed for this lollipop cake. One airbrushing technique that works for all designs is a colored band at the base of all tiers, giving the design dimension and adding depth to white-on-white designs. Decorators also need to remember that airbrushing on fondant is slightly different than airbrushing on buttercream icing. If you want a dark color on fondant, you should apply the color in layers to keep the color from pooling and creating dark patches.
After covering an 8-in. round (4 ins. high) with white fondant, spin the turntable while holding the airbrush still to spray a pink band at the base of the cake. Point the airbrush at where the cake meets the board. If you want a wider band, move the gun up slightly after completing one revolution. The excess color easily wipes off the cake board if it's not covered by the design.
Airbrush the top border and the top of the cake pink. If you want to leave the center of the cake top devoid of color, then place an inverted round cake pan on top of the tier. A pan will not blow away, and it creates a seal to keep the area under the pan free of color.
Lightly airbrush the rest of the tier pink.
Using the same technique, airbrush blue top and bottom bands around a 4-in. tier (about 6 ins. high), and then lightly airbrush the entire tier blue.
Airbrush a 6-in. tier (2 ins. high) a solid yellow, beginning at the bottom and working your way to the top.
Stack the cake. Varying the tier height makes the cake more dramatic, and decorating the center tier differently — in this case a solid, dark color — provides contrast in your design.
Dress the edge of the cake board with a green ribbon that is taller than the board itself. Use the ribbon as part of the design. You can use a patterned ribbon to add additional “pop” to your cake.
Instead of piping a border at the base of the tier, pour edible pearls into the area between the cake and the ribbon.
On the top of the bottom tier, use a cut bag to pipe a stripe of piping gel about 1/2 in. from the base of the middle tier. This will create a dam for additional edible pearls.
Create another piping gel dam on top of the middle tier, and pipe a circle of gel in the center of the top tier. Place edible pearls around the base of each tier as well as on top of the top tier. Move the cake onto a sheet pan before adding the edible pearls to capture any pearls that fall off, so you can reuse them.
To create lollipops, roll several colors of gumpaste together into cylinders. Then, twirl into discs to create the multicolored lollipops. Place a lollipop stick in the bottom of each disc and let them dry. Once dry, place several in the top tier and at the sides of the bottom tier. Leave the center tier free of lollipops.
Cut a number out of gumpaste and turn it over. Attach floral wire to the back with a piece of gumpaste.
Airbrush green around the edges of the overturned number.
By airbrushing the back of the design element, you create backlighting, which just adds a slight bit of color to the decoration without making it a solid color.
If you don't want a white number, lightly airbrush the outline of the number's front side. When comparing an airbrushed number to a number created from colored gumpaste, you can see that airbrushing gives depth and dimension to the decoration and makes it more visually dynamic.
Place the airbrushed number at the front of the cake in the center tier.
Make several sizes of dots in various colors with royal icing. Allow them to dry.
Attach the icing dots to the top and bottom tiers of the cake using buttercream icing or piping gel. Leave the yellow, middle tier free of dots.
Using the royal icing dots instead of fondant dots helps give the cake added dimension, and leaving the center tier free from decoration allows it to stand out. Having one tier decorated differently than the others helps the entire design to “pop.” This design should take about 30 to 40 minutes to decorate and offers about 40 servings. Sweet Ashley's sells the cake for $185.
Like many girls of her generation, Ashley Vicos' love of baking began at age five with an Easy-Bake Oven. That love has become her career as she now owns Atlanta-based Sweet Ashley's, a commercially licensed cake studio, where she creates custom cakes and teaches cake decorating classes. Vicos has competed in several decorating challenges on TLC and the Food Network and has been seen on NBC and CBS.