Reported by Lexi Daly
My typical canvas is a card; my tools, paper, ink, and stamps. And here, at Craft Critique, that’s what I usually write about. But today, I thought I’d report on another favorite creative medium–cake! If you’ve read my blog, chances are you’ve seen a couple. I’m definitely not an expert and everything I know I’ve learned from books, magazines, and the cake supply aisles at William Sonoma and Michael’s. Since my cake baking is all about decorating and creating a centerpiece, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite tools for doing just that.
1. Cake Leveler–Once I got this, I couldn’t believe I’d gone so long without it! It makes it so easy to cut the rounded top off of the cake for perfectly flat layers. When your layers are flat, they stack nicely and you have an even surface for decorating. I used to use a knife, but this is so much smoother and more perfect. It’s also very easy to change the height of the wire for different sizes of layers. A must-have at $2.99–and the family loves the scraps that result from the cutting!
2. Bread Knife–I like to create shape cakes and most of the ones I create come to life by cutting up basic shapes and piecing them together to make something new. I’ve found that chilling the cake overnight and cutting it with a bread knife gives the cleanest cuts. (Again, more scraps to enjoy!)
3. Angled Spatulas–These spatulas are made especially for icing cakes. You definitely get better control with them and they’re comfortable to use. I use the biggest one the most, especially for large open surfaces. The smaller one comes in handy for the sides and inside corners. If I could only have one, I’d take the 13 inch one for $6.49.
4. Icing Colors–I collect Wilton concentrated gel icing colors like I collect ink pads! There are so many colors to choose from and you can even mix up those to create your own custom shades. Just a little bit of gel produces a nice, strong color without watering down your icing. There are several sets available or you can get individual colors for $1.99 each. I even use them for pancakes!
5. Decorating Tips–If you’re going to add details to your design, you’ll need to use icing bags and decorating tips. I’ve included my favorites in the picture–round no. 4, open star no. 18, and basketweave no. 47. The tips range in price from $.89 to $2.69 or you can buy a set (at Michael’s with a coupon, like I did!). The large one pictured is actually for icing cupcakes and I love it, especially when I want quick and cute.
These tools are not comprehensive, just those special favorites that I typically use every time I create a cake. I have the basics for baking–mixer, sifter, spoons, spatulas, the list goes on! I also use fondant details on many cakes so I have tools for that, too (another article?). Like any crafting hobby, there’s much to buy and you can add it piece by piece as you try new things. It’s a lot of fun–especially when you get to eat the results for dessert! If you want to see one of my cakes from start to finish, check out my blog post on How to Bake a Margarita. And of course, I can’t leave you without showing you a few sweet treats right here…