Use tip No. 2b to add basketweave to the sides of a base-iced round cake.
Pipe pink roses using tip No. 125. Create the rest of the bouquet using gumpaste hydrangeas and daisies.
With tip No. 10, pipe a large horseshoe, and then pipe a thinner horseshoe inside the first to create the player’s body.
Add details to the uniform and the helmet using a contrasting color and a cut paper tube.
Pipe a tan circle for the baby’s head, and a larger, white circle underneath the head for the diaper. Add feet so the baby looks like it is crawling..
Create an elegant looking cake very easily by using a cut paper tube to pipe lace on the top and sides of a base-iced.
Diane Ahrens, owner of Piece-A-Cake Bakery, East Dundee, Ill., discovered her love of decorating in a high school home economics class. In 1994, with no retail bakery experience, Ahrens opened Piece-A-Cake Bakery. “I’d never worked in a ‘real bakery,’ mostly just in a restaurant environment. It was a real learning process for me,” Ahrens says.
She had baked a range of products, such as Danish, bread, muffins and cakes, out of her home and sold them at a local farmer’s market. Her products proved popular, and after four years, she had outgrown her home kitchen.
“It came to a point where I either had to get serious or quit,” Ahrens says. Today, her full-line retail bakery averages about four to eight wedding cakes and 40 to 50 custom decorated cakes on Saturdays.
Ahrens recently participated in CARBA’s (Chicago Area Retail Bakers Association) Third Annual Cake Decorating contest where she won the People’s Choice Award. She competed against nine of the area’s top decorators at Chicago’s Navy Pier. The contest was open to the public, and the visitors chose their favorite cakes for the People’s Choice Award. Ahrens shared some of her favorite and award-winning designs with Modern Baking.
Ahrens incorporates several different flower varieties into her designs, including some made from fondant or gumpaste. For best results preparing gumpaste flowers, roll the white gumpaste a little thicker than normal, about 1/16 of an inch thick. Cut out the flowers with a gumpaste cutter, and use a press to add the petal details. Place the flowers in an egg carton to dry and create curved petals. Ahrens uses this method for several flowers, such as hydrangeas and daisies. After the flowers are dry, airbrush them with your desired color. Airbrush the edges of the petals darker and lighten the color as you work into the middle. Also, airbrush the backs of the flower in case they are visible when placed on the cake. “I remember when I first started decorating, I said I would never use an airbrush, and now I love it. It’s an easy way to add color,” Ahrens says.
Popular Mother’s Day design
One of her favorite designs, the basketweave, incorporates several flower varieties. “I’ve found that the basketweave around Mother’s Day and Easter is a very popular design,” she says. To create the basketweave design, base ice a round cake with brown icing. Use tip No. 2b to add the brown basketweave around the sides of the cake. Ahrens suggests not measuring for the basketweave and just eyeing it to help speed the process. Use flowers to cover any discrepancies, she says.
Use star tip No. 21 to pipe top and bottom shell borders. Pipe four dollops of pink icing on one half of the cake. Pipe pink roses using tip No. 125, and place them on the dollops of icing. Add some rose buds around the roses and down the side of the cake. Use tip No. 352 to pipe green leaves. “This tip also works great for ferns and lily of the valley because it gives you a more pointy leaf,” Ahrens says.
Add large green leaves with tip No. 70. Place some airbrushed gumpaste hydrangeas on the top and down the side of the cake. Also place a few white gumpaste daisies among the other flowers. Use tip No. 233 to add yellow centers to the daisies. Pipe a yellow dot in the centers of the hydrangeas using tip No. 3. With lavender icing and tip No. 143, add some tiny buds to the top and side of the cake to finish the floral arrangement.
Another popular design at Piece-A-Cake is a football player cake. By varying icing colors, this cake is versatile for both professional and amateur sports fans, Ahrens says. Base ice a quarter sheet cake with white icing. Airbrush the top of the cake green for the football field. With a cut icing bag, pipe white yard line markers.
To create the players, use tip No. 10 to pipe three blue horseshoes. With tip No. 10 or 12, pipe brown circles for the faces under the curves of the horseshoes, and smooth the icing. Use a cut paper tube to pipe brown noses in the center of the faces. With tip No. 10, pipe another blue horseshoe inside and slightly on top of the original horseshoes. The second horseshoe creates the players’ arms. At the top of the faces, use tip No. 10 to pipe a blue half circle, forming the players’ helmets.
Add orange details to the players’ uniforms using tip No. 5. With a cut paper tube, pipe the players’ hands. Pipe black shoes using tip No. 4. Create the facemasks using gray icing and a cut paper tube. Pipe an appropriate message using tip No. 5 and orange icing. Overpipe the message in blue with tip No. 2. Use a cut paper tube to add black yardage markers.
Use tip No. 18 and blue icing to pipe triple shell top and bottom borders. Place sugar footballs around the top border of the cake and one in the hands of the middle player. Also, add blue and orange curly ribbon to the top border of the cake. “Randy McArthur (owner of McArthur’s Party Cake Bakery, St. Louis) gave a demonstration on using curly ribbon, and he’s been my hero ever since,” Ahrens says.
Great cake for baby showers
Another one of Ahrens’s favorite designs is one for baby showers. Base ice a quarter sheet cake with white icing. Airbrush brown lines across the bottom half of the cake, creating a wood floor. In the center of the cake, pipe a tan circle of icing using tip No. 10. Smooth the icing with a spatula. Use tip No. 5 to pipe ears on each side of the circle, and add a nose.
With a cut paper tube, pipe a larger white circle of icing under the baby’s face, and smooth it with a spatula. Use tip No. 5 and tan icing to pipe feet and toes at the bottom of the white sphere. Add the baby’s eyes, mouth and spiky hair with tip No. 2 and dark brown or black icing.
To create the baby’s blanket, roll pink, blue, white, green and yellow fondant together. Cut the fondant into a rectangle, and drape it in the corner of the cake next to the baby. Pipe white tassels at the corners of the blanket using tip No. 18.
Pipe green top and bottom borders using a shell motion and tip No. 70. With tip No. 18, overpipe the borders with yellow shell borders. Use a cut paper tube and pink and blue icing to pipe the word baby. Outline the letters and add dots to the blanket with white icing and a cut paper tube. “To add a little umph, place plastic decorations,” Ahrens says.
A simple and easy design that gives cakes an elegant, finished appearance is a lace pattern, she says. Base ice any size cake with white or cream colored icing. The most popular shape for this design at Piece-A-Cake is the heart.
Elegance made easy
Outline an oval in the center of the cake. This will remain lace-free, and an appropriate message will fill the area later. To create the lace, use tip No. 2 to pipe continuous squiggles over the top and sides of the cake. The method she uses on this design is a combination of cornelia lace and sotas lace. “The smaller the tip, the better it looks,” Ahrens says. She also suggests adding gel or corn syrup to the icing to thin it out. Outline the oval and add a reverse shell bottom border using tip No. 21.
Create a drape using blue fondant cut into two rectangles. With a paintbrush, add pearlized powder to the fondant, and drape the rectangles on opposite corners of the cake. Use tip No. 125 to pipe several roses to hide the ends of the drape on top of the cake. Add green leaves with tip No. 70. Add some gumpaste hydrangeas and daisies. Pipe yellow centers in the hydrangeas with tip No. 3. Use tip No. 233 to add yellow centers in the daisies. Sprinkle some of the pearlized powder on the flowers, and use a cut paper tube to add an appropriate message.
Ahrens suggests decorators remember that their works of art are going to be consumed. “The hardest thing is that decorators often try for perfection, but you just need to create an illusion of reality,” Ahrens says.