Create completely original designs by using your airbrush in a variety of ways. If you want a more personalized portrait cake than a simple replication of a photo, use your airbrush to fill in an outlined portrait. The cake will have a handcrafted look without your decorator having to know how to draw. Airbrushing can also enhance copyrighted, pre-printed images. Whether using the airbrush to create a design from scratch or simply adding details to an existing image, the end result will keep customers coming back to your bakery for their special occasion cakes.
For a portrait cake, make a photocopy of the original photo. Place the copied picture on top of a thin sheet of sugar paste or rolled fondant that is resting on a piece of cardboard. Lightly trace the outline of the person with a pencil. Do not press too hard because you do not want to poke holes in the fondant.
Use brown food coloring and a fine paintbrush to paint the traced lines onto the fondant. Keep the photo in view for reference.
To airbrush skin, go from light colors to dark. Start with yellow to add warmth to the skin, and lightly coat all areas of the skin. Then, add the orange or flesh tone color to give depth to the skin.
Finally, use brown airbrush color to add shadows to the skin as well as color in the hair. When airbrushing hair, use brown color under black to create dark hair, yellow color under orange for red hair and yellow color under brown for blonde.
Fill in the lips using a little red airbrush color. Use less color for men than you would for women. Add blue color in the background. A cool color, such as blue, adds dimension to the warm skin tone and frames the face well.
Lightly airbrush purple color around the outline of the portrait to really make the portrait pop. Use a paintbrush to add the eye color as well other details, such as eyebrows. Use a cut paper tube and white icing to highlight the lips and eyes.
Pipe simple top and bottom shell borders on a quarter sheet cake. Then, airbrush the borders yellow and overspray with green. The two-tone technique makes the color more vibrant, and by only airbrushing the sides at the top and bottom, you give the illusion of additional height.
Slide the portrait off the cardboard and onto the cake.
Use a cut paper tube to outline the top border with green gel. With a shell tip and white icing, pipe a simple border around the fondant sheet.
Use a cut paper tube and black icing to pipe an appropriate message. This cake was made in remembrance of John Roeser Jr., the second-generation owner of Roeser's Bakery in Chicago.
For a Care Bears™cake, pipe simple top and bottom borders on a quarter sheet cake. Then place a pre-printed decal in the center of the cake. Use a spatula to smooth the design and remove air bubbles.
Airbrush a rainbow over the decal, starting with yellow on the outside of the rainbow. Then, add orange, pink, purple and blue under the yellow to complete the rainbow.
Cut a cloud shaped stencil out of plastic and add tape to the back as a handle. Place the stencil on the cake and airbrush blue around it. If the buttercream on the cake is still cold, the stencil will stick less. Continue to move the stencil over the cake top until it is covered with clouds.
Use a cut paper tube and white icing to outline the decal. With a plain round tip, pipe bubbles for clouds at the end of the airbrushed rainbow. Then, airbrush the bottom border green and the top border pink. Under the pink band, airbrush yellow followed by blue to fill the sides of the cake with color.
With a cut paper tube, pipe an appropriate message with red gel. On the sides of the cake, pipe a series of yellow ‘c’s using a cut paper tube. Then, add alternating pink and blue teardrops between the loops of the ‘c’s. By adding a simple side decoration, you add value to the cake.
Orlando Serrano is lead decorator at Roeser's Bakery in Chicago. He began decorating at age 17 for an in-store bakery and has worked for Roeser's since 1996. He won the 2000 and 2004 Chicago Area Retail Bakers Association's cake decorating contests and has participated in several Food Network challenges. He received his Pastry Certification from Kendall College in Chicago as well as art training from Columbia College and the School of the Art Institute, both also in Chicago.