Why Do We Bake and Decorate Cakes?

It is fun to learn about cake baking and cake decorating because who can resist cakes?  We love to  bake cakes, enjoy the aroma of them, and best of all – eating them?  As a child, did you say, “Can I lick the bowl after you finish making the cake?”  Sometimes the cake dough and icing are as good as the cakes themselves!

What is the key to learning how to bake a great cake?

The real key to learn about cake baking is ensuring you have all the ingredients you need before you begin to bake.  Making a list and checking it twice is never more applicable than in baking.  You can have the most delicious recipe in the world, but you need the basic ingredients to cook it.  If you have already bought all the ingredients you need for cake baking, be sure your family hasn’t used any ingredients you will need.  Nothing is worse than reaching for two eggs and finding that only one is left in the refrigerator!  To prevent family members from using your ingredients, you may have to communicate what not to use in the kitchen, label the ingredients that you don’t want others to use, or have sections of your refrigerator or pantry for your use only. Whatever method you use to keep your family from using your ingredients, your responsibility is ensuring you do have what you need or appropriate substitutes.  You may even want to plan substitutes in case you run out. For example, if you frequently bake cakes with pecans, you may want to have extra walnuts available in case you don’t have enough pecans.   If worse comes to worse, you can make banana nut bread without the nuts, or without the bananas for that matter.  Does the cake taste the same?  Of course not, but even without all the ingredients (or if your cake is lopsided, a little burnt, or even under cooked), as long as your cake tastes good, most people will be happy to eat it.  So be efficient, prepare in advance, substitute when you can, and as long as you have the mandatory ingredients, you can still create a tasty cake – and for informal occasions, that’s all that matters in the end.

I want to decorate cakes!

So, you want to learn how to bake and decorate cakes but don’t know how.  Here are some ways to learn.

You can look in the yellow pages of your telephone book for cake decorators and ask them how they learned.  You can call craft stores and ask if they offer classes about cake baking and decorating– many of them do.  Public libraries offer “how to” books as do book stores.  Ask your friends who have already taken classes about cake decorating if they will teach you what they already know.  Caterers can tell you how they learned or you can ask the bakery department of your local grocery store how their cake decorators learned.  The Internet is full of information as are cooking magazines that show pictures with step-by-step details of how to decorate cakes.  Television cooking programs often include cake-decorating information.  Also, some continuing education courses through local colleges offer cake-decorating courses.

You may need to purchase some utensils, but with the right tools, you’re on your way to creating masterpieces.  Won’t you be proud when people ask you if you bought your cake or made it yourself?  Also, when you cut your cake, be prepared to hear, “May I have one of those pretty roses on my piece?”

You may you love your cake decorating hobby so much that you decide to turn it into a job for pay.  You may even become known as the “neighborhood cake decorator.”  Is so, you may be in demand for your skills and like it or not, you may have to decide whether or not you want to accept money for baking and decorating beautiful cakes that also taste delicious.

How is Cake Baking Different from “Cooking”?

Recipes such as cakes, pies, breads and pastries have specific ingredients that interact with one another.  The exact measures for cake baking must be followed in order to achieve perfect results.  The ingredients in cake baking must be measured precisely due to the chemical interaction which effects texture and flavor.  Cooking, however, is the art of combining ingredients that can be increased or decreased without ruining the dish.  You can toss a few more carrots into a stew without a negative effect.  But if you add too much baking powder to a cake, or too much yeast in a bread recipe, the result may be a flop.  So, if you are baking, measure accurately and you will love the results. Learning to bake a cake might have been one of your requests as a child.   Then when you were old enough, you either asked someone to make your favorite cake or you learned to make it yourself so you could eat it or enjoy serving it to family and friends.

Although cake baking is fun to celebrate an occasion, to please family or friends, you don’t have to have a reason — just bake a cake because it tastes good.

Some people do bake cakes for specific reasons however. For example, if you’re selling your home, real estate agents recommend during an open house, bake a cake in the oven to make your house smell “deliciously inviting” to prospective buyers. You may even want to offer prospective buyers a slice of cake to help them feel even more at home!

Cakes are for everyone – children, adults, and even customers.  Which cakes you make and how often you make them are up to you.  With or without icing, cakes smell good, taste good, and are a party in themselves.  So, right now, even if you’re the only one attending, have yourself a party — bake yourself a cake!

Decorating the Perfect Cake

Just what is cake decorating?  You take a freshly baked cake that is cooled, frost it with your favorite icing, and make it as simple or elaborate as you wish!  You can be creative with your own special designs on the sides of your cake as well as the top.

Having a smooth finish on your cake is one of the most important parts of successful cake decorating. No matter how careful you are, cake decorations will always look best on an evenly iced cake. Neatness and precision are also very important. Once you have baked your cake you should let the layers cool thoroughly. Cool for at least one hour. You can even put the layers in the freezer for a short time. This will help eliminate crumbs. Once your layers are cool, you will need to level and trim each layer.

You want to make sure that you use an icing with good consistency as a base. Be sure that your frosting is not too thick or too thin. Icing should just glide on to the cake.

The cake decorations are the final step. It’s like the wrapping of that special gift. This is what everyone sees. Your cake decorations can be as simple as a buttercream icing, glaze or as simple as stenciling a dusting of confectioner’s sugar or even cocoa! The decorations will entice your guest to enjoy a piece of your delicious cake!