Over the next little while, interspersed with other projects and recipes, I plan to post a series of tutorials for basic cake decorating, all spiced up with some of my own little tips. 🙂 This is all pretty simple stuff… But if it helps you improve the presentation of your cakes, or avoid little problems that you’d like to avoid, then I’m happy to share these things with you!
The first step in making a beautiful cake begins before you decorate it, before you bake it, and even before you make the batter. The first essential step to a beautifully decorated cake is lining the cake pans.
Now. Since I believe in a good deal, and I don’t believe in telling you need to spend more money than you actually do, I’m gonna tell you the cheap way to do this. Sound good? Hehe, it’s actually not much cheaper, but it is a little bit, and it’s *almost* as good as the slightly-more-expensive way.
What is it, you ask?
Wax Paper vs. Parchment Paper.
This is Important Thing #1. Parchment is a little more heavy duty, a little more non-stick, and a little more fancy. But it’s ALSO a little more expensive, so I just bought some no-name wax paper, and I’m gonna teach you how to line your pans with that. Lining the pans with parchment is done the same way, just so-ya-know, except that rolls of parchment paper are wider, so… well, your strips of paper for the sides of the pan will be wider if you use that with this method.
Important Thing #2: Cake pans. Most cake pans that you will get at the store, or that you may have been given as a gift when you got married, are 9×1.5″ (ish) pans with sides that tip out a little. I’m not sure *exactly* why they make them that way… perhaps it’s because a lot of cakes shrink towards the top a little when they cool, so they are expecting that your cakes will have that problem, and are prepared to automatically fix it for you. Sponge cakes do that a lot.
In my experience, your average cake doesn’t do that too much. So then you have the odd predicament of decorating weirdly shaped cakes, which… no matter how skilled you are with frosting, can be a very difficult task.
I recommend using professional decorator pans. The ones I’m using in this tutorial are 8×2″, and the wonderful thing about these is that the sides are perpendicular to the base. They have a straight, tall side of the pan which is just plain magical when making purty cakes. 🙂 You can order them online, purchase them at Michael’s in the cake decorating section, or pick them up at a local chef supply store. My favorite place to go for these is William’s Food Equipment— One of the happiest places on earth (in my humble opinion). 😉 In the states, William Sonoma might be a good place to look (I LOVE that store)– but I am not sure if they carry them or not.
To start out, your gonna need a pencil, scissors, wax paper (or parchment), and your cake pans. Set the cake pan on the wax paper, hold it down firmly, and trace the side of the pan with pencil. Pen will not work on this, and I would not recommend using markers unless they are the food coloring kind. Also, if you’re using wax paper, press nice and firmly when you trace the outline– it’s difficult to see the pencil lines. Parchment paper will show the pencil marks much better.
You might need your glasses to see this part, hehe… Here’s the edge of the pan, traced onto the wax paper. Sometimes, I find that the pencil doesn’t show up super well, but if you press nice and firmly when you trace the edge of the pan, it’ll create a white crease in the paper where the pencil pressed it to your work surface. You can then just cut along that– just be careful to stay on the lines.
Now cut the rounds out… I’m making a nice tall 2-layer cake, so I’m lining 2 pans. You can always make a shorter cake, however, by baking one layer and then leaving it like that, or splitting it in two for two smaller layers. Regardless, I’m making two layers, so here are my two wax paper circles. 🙂
Next, pull out your wax paper– You’ll want it to be long enough to wrap around the entire side of the pan. Use one of the pans to measure if that’s helpful. Then snip-snip. Cut the length of paper off of the roll.
Next… well, this is how I do it, just ’cause it’s easy. You can measure the strips to be a certain width if you need it, but for this size pan, and for most of the cakes that I make, this is perfect. My roll of wax paper is 12″ wide, and I just fold the entire piece into 4, like so. This piece has been folded in half, then in half again, and then opened back up so that you can see the crease. Cut the paper on the crease, and then open up the other piece and cut that one, again on the crease. You should now have 4 long strips of wax paper, all of equal size.
Now since I am only making two layers, I’ll set two of those strips aside for next time, and use the remaining two. Set the two strips on top of each other so that they edges and sides match, and then fold about 3/4″ of the paper up on both of them together. Then unfold it, and cut diagonal slits, as shown, all along the 3/4″ strip of the paper. Don’t cut past the crease.
Important Thing #3: PAM! 😀 Remember her? Easy peasy. Go ahead and grease the pans, just enough to make the paper stick. Nothing too drastic.
Now, set the strips of paper into the greased cake pans so that the slit edge sits flat on the bottom and the rest of it wraps around the side of the pans. Like so.
Then set the round circles, pencil side down, into the bottom of each, and smooth them to fit into the base of the pan.
Next, in goes the batter. If you’re making a nice tall cake, your going to want to make sure there’s enough batter in there. For cake mixes, 1 cake mix will nicely fill an 8″-9″ pan like these. It will take longer to bake, but it’ll have nice height to it, and the finished cake will be lovely.
Bake the cakes, let them rest 10-15 minutes in the pans, and then turn them out onto wire racks to cool. Then right away, peel away the wax paper, first from the sides, then from the top. Cool the cakes completely.
And that’s that! Clean, sharp edges and no broken cake. 🙂 That’s what I like to see!
And now, for the finale, I’d like to tell you all that I bought you some parchment paper, just for fun. I have two rolls, and I’m giving them away for FREE! (Because that’s even cheaper than wax paper. :-P) All you have to do to enter the draw to win is share the contest post on Facebook FROM the Sugar and Spice Page. If you share from a friend’s wall, I will not see it, and it will not count.
I’ll be doing a random draw to decide the winners, and then I’ll post them on the Facebook Page the next time I put up a cake decorating tutorial. If your name is mentioned from there, you can send me an email with your address, and before you know it, you’ll have a package in the mail! And who knows, there might even be some other sweet surprises tucked in that box as well. 😉
I hope you win!
(And look, there are cinnamon rolls on the box. Awe-some.)
Thanks for reading, and I’ll be back next week!