It’s just the time to start getting anxious about Christmas. All that shopping …and all that cooking and baking. It’s a special season, when we want to make an extra effort for family and friends; our usual delicious food but with a little more care taken over presentation. Sweet things and large cakes can provide an edible canvas for our colourful and imaginative sugarpaste and icing extravaganzas.
Cake Decorating Skills offers technical know-how and inspiration for cakes for every occasion. Those aforementioned skills can be put to work on small individual dainties as well as large centrepieces. Christmas as well as birthdays, weddings and anniversaries will all be enhanced by stunning and unique cakes decorated by your very own hands. Note that I say ‘decorated’ rather than ‘made’. If you can decorate then you can create something magnificent from even a commercial base …but buy the best cakes available: you can cut corners, but never cut quality.
Tracey Mann has penned a book that will give confidence to the novice decorator and give a few ideas to even the practised. There are always new decorating products and gadgets so those with a history of previous projects will find something new. There are techniques that will enable you to fashion swirls of icing for the ubiquitous cupcake, to mould exotic flowers, and to master every style of decoration in between.
Yes, those celebrated cupcakes are still fashionable but have you seen the price? Cake Decorating Skills offers a recipe for the basic cake as well as for the soft buttercream. There is also a nice technique for giving a flat topping of sugarpaste on which to place a sugar rose or a sugar representation of an Arsenal crest. Well, boys like cakes as well.
The Piping chapter will be the one to linger over. You will practise dots, swags and hearts, and then use those new skills to best advantage on a special birthday cake or perhaps even a wedding cake, although that won’t give you much latitude to show off Colouring that you’ll learn about in the chapter that follows.
Transfer sheets now enable even those of us with minimal artistic talent to achieve amazing results. These transparent sheets have printed designs on one side. They can be placed on a base of sugarpaste and the design, with a bit of burnishing and gentle heat, will adhere to the paste which can then be cut to shape and used as instant decoration.
The book is worth buying just for the chapter on Modelling. Teddy is my project for this weekend. He is adorable and comes with step-by-step pictures to assure success. There are also instructions on making human figures complete with clothes. The possibilities for constructing one’s own friends and family members out of sugarpaste are endless!
Cake Decorating Skills is fun. Plenty of inspiration for classic and pretty decorations, as well as those that are amusing and will be treasured by your children for at least an hour before the lion’s head is consumed. Requests for an ark of sweet animals should be expected.
Cake Decorating Skills
Author: Tracey Mann
Published by: Apple Press
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018