Phuong Truong, the 2008 Pillsbury Grand Champion of the Retail Bakers of America Creative Decorating Competition, shares her versatile winter cake design. You can pipe any message as the design of pine cones and candles is suitable for the entire winter season. The details make this cake stand out. Pine cones airbrushed with gold and sprinkled with sugar snow, ribbon accents, gold dragees and sparkle dust make the design pop. Customers will appreciate the extra attention to detail.
1. Base ice a quarter sheet cake in white icing. With a cut paper tube, pipe four curved lines of green icing to form the basis of the evergreen boughs. Then, use the tube to pipe straight lines emanating out from the branches to create the pine needles.
2. Add a few more green branches using a cut paper tube, and add red holly berries to the branches with a cut paper tube. At the base of the boughs, pipe several curlicue decorations using a cut paper tube and green icing.
3. Pipe a dollop of brown icing to form a base for the pine cones. This will support and elevate several of the pine cones.
4. To create the pine cones, use tip No. 101 and brown icing. Use an up-and-down motion to pipe petals on a stick while you turn the stick. Begin at the top and work your way down; pipe seven layers of petals.
5. After placing a couple of pine cones at the top of the bunch, add the red candles. To form the candles, use tip No. 18 to pipe two straight lines coming up from the pine cones. Create the texture on the candles by piping diagonal lines across the straight line.
6. Fill out the pine cone bunch by piping and placing several additional pinecones. Place a few pine cones, so they rest on top of the dollop of icing, and give dimension to the bunch.
7. Use a cut paper tube and yellow icing to pipe flames at the top of the candles.
8. With a cut paper tube and green icing, use an up-and-down motion to pipe a scallop top border.
9. On the sides of the cake, pipe ornate curlicues, scrolls, dots and fleur de lis-type decorations using white icing and a cut paper tube. Flatten the dots with a damp finger.
10. For the bottom border, pipe mistletoe leaves using tip No. 78. Alternate the leaves, so some point up and some point down.
11. With a cut paper tube, pipe three red berries in the center of the leaves along the base of the cake. Flatten the berries with a damp finger.
12. Spray pearlescent airbrush color over the entire cake, but avoid the pine cones.
13.To create the candles' glow, airbrush yellow around the flames.
14. Airbrush gold over the pine cones. Cut several pieces of ribbon into about 2-in. lengths. Fold the ribbon in half and place between the pine cones.
15. On the side decorations, place 6 mm gold dragees.
16. Sprinkle sparkle dust around the candles' flames and sugar on the pine cones for snow. Pipe an appropriate message in red using a cut paper tube.
Phuong Truong, CD, has been decorating cakes for Ambrosia Bakery, Baton Rouge, La., for eight years. She started at the bakery stacking and icing cakes and had no decorating experience. After watching decorators at work, she decided to try her hand and has been decorating ever since. She received her certified decorator certificate last year. She entered the Retail Bakers of America's 2008 Creative Decorating Competition, her first competition ever, and was named Pillsbury Grand Champion.