Kitchen Secrets: My Best Tip For Decorating (Cakes, Cupcakes, Cookies, Pies...) - The Kitchen Garden: Fresh Herbs and Flavorings Blog at - 230102

The Kitchen Garden: Fresh Herbs and Flavorings

Kitchen Secrets: My Best Tip for Decorating (Cakes, cupcakes, cookies, pies...) 
Apr. 2, 2011 6:00 am 
Updated: Apr. 27, 2011 9:11 pm
Calling all pastry chefs! 

You can't help but notice the amazing techniques and talent of the AR cooks'  beautifully crafted cupcakes, cookies, pies and baked goods.

Whether you had a tip for the most intricate of detailing or the simpliest way to make a glaze perfect or a neat idea for birthday cakes, please share a tip or two about decorating do's and don'ts.

There's no such thing as "Gilding the Lilly" when it comes to decorating!

All the best
Marvel's Kitchen Tips blog: Decorating
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My Best Tip blog: Decorating
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Apr. 2, 2011 6:01 am
Kim Jan. 14, 2011 2:04 am Whenever I make cupcakes I always manage to stick my oven mitt in one of the cupcakes. If you leave one of the cupcake wells unfilled, you have a perfect spot to grab on to without leaving an oven mitt thumbprint in your treat.
Apr. 2, 2011 6:02 am
Gerry Jan. 16, 2011 11:53 am When measuring butter,margarine,shortening etc.line your measuring cup with plastic wrap.Fill as needed,then pull the wrap up and out,empty,then discard the plastic wrap,eliminates a messy cup to clean...
Apr. 2, 2011 6:02 am
Mamaw Jan. 16, 2011 7:25 pm Lefty and Marvel, dental floss is great for cutting decorated cakes, esp. sheet ones, without making a mess of the cake and you. Wrap a length of floss (sufficient to cut width or length of cake) around index finger of each hand, (as for flossing) saw/push down through length or width of cake to the bottom, release one end, pull floss through, and begin next cut (2 hands, until cake is cut. Clean cuts, undisturbed decorations, and little mess. Just have something ready to wipe off your fingers when done. Thanks for all the good hints, everyone.
Apr. 2, 2011 6:03 am
Vesnila Jan. 26, 2011 4:49 am you If you want to use parchment (baking) paper, wet it first and wriggle, taking care not to overwriggle it. Then place it in the baking tray and bake whatever you like, even meatballs or patties. It's an Italian trick and I have never seen any cuisine using wet paper. It works well and you don't have to "struggle" with the dry paper that tends to roll in the tray.
Apr. 2, 2011 6:03 am
J Pyeweed Jan. 22, 2011 7:57 pm If you have a recipe that calls for sweet butter, but only have salted. Put butter in two cups of lukewarm water and knead with you hands to expose and dissolve the salt. Remove the butter, rinse in cold water, place in cloth and ring water out. Refrigerate to firm or use.
Apr. 2, 2011 6:04 am
AngKN Jan. 25, 2011 11:31 am Also, if you are making cupcakes and want a fondant icing look, just put your regular icing in the microwave for a bout 30 seconds, stir up the now liquid icing, and dip the cupcakes. Once they dry, they will look like they have that smooth, fondant finish
Apr. 2, 2011 6:04 am
sueb Jan. 23, 2011 10:27 am If you need extra counter space when making cookies, pull out a drawer, and set your cookie sheet on it. You can get your cookies on the cookie sheet easily!
Apr. 2, 2011 6:04 am
Purple Jan. 22, 2011 11:44 am I had a small baking business when my kids were small and to separate the eggs for my chiffon cakes I used an egg cup. Break the egg into a saucer place the cup over the yellow and holding in place pour the whites into the bowl with no fuss.
Apr. 2, 2011 6:05 am
? What's for dinner, mom? ? Jan. 14, 2011 8:04 pm I make my own "PAM" cooking spray. I have 1 fine mist bottle for canola oil and 1 for olive oil. No more cans, no more running out unexpectedly!
Apr. 2, 2011 6:06 am
Butterflykisses589 Jan. 15, 2011 7:11 am When making cream pies, sprinkle the baked crust with powdered sugar - prevents crust from becoming soggy. Great blog! I love learning from others!
Apr. 2, 2011 6:06 am
Mary @ 48 Jan. 15, 2011 12:21 pm A slick trick for greasing pans without a fatty feel is to use liquid lecithin. It makes cookies and other items slide right off the pan.
Apr. 2, 2011 6:07 am
Stephanie Jan. 16, 2011 11:27 pm When you have to measure peanut butter, put some water in a measuring cup, and spoon the peanut butter into the cup. The water will be displaced, so you just watch how much water is displaced, and you know when you have the right amount of peanut butter. Example, put 1 cup of water in the cup. As you add peanut butter, when the water line reaches 1 and 1/4 cup, you have 1/4 cup of peanut butter. Just pour off the water, and you've got your peanut butter for your recipe.
Apr. 2, 2011 6:07 am
CATWOMAN2 Jan. 23, 2011 12:19 pm I roll out all my cookie doughs, such as sugar cookies etc. on Powdered sugar instead of flour. The cookies do not dry out as much by doing this. Just makes them a bit sweeter!!
Apr. 2, 2011 6:08 am
? foodiemonster Feb. 2, 2011 12:21 pm Marvel, great blog: my mom's way for getting peanut butter off and works if you don't have spray, dip the measuring cups in boiling water and the peanut butter would slide off the cup like magic! redip in between each cup.
Apr. 2, 2011 6:08 am
Mamaw Jan. 27, 2011 5:03 pm When the oven is to be used, plan to prepare several baked items, to make optimal use of the oven being on.
Apr. 2, 2011 6:10 am
cinditd Jan. 14, 2011 9:06 am Love this blog!! When using canned fruit or veggies that you will be draining the liquid from, turn the can upside down for a few hours and all the liquid goes to "the top" of the can and makes for easier draining! I, also, run my sponges & dish brushes thru the dishwasher when I run it and they come out clean & disinfected!
Apr. 2, 2011 6:11 am
Diana, too I'm trying to think of a *green* cake with a frosting/topping that looks like grass. I'm thinking lime cake, or maybe white cake with lime zest on top. I was also thinking shredded coconut, but it would have to be dyed green. It's for a Spring celebration!
Apr. 2, 2011 6:11 am
? SweetBasil Jan. 14, 2011 7:10 am Lining your baking sheets with parchment paper before baking cookies, a meatloaf, meatballs etc. sure makes for easy removal and clean-up. When baking cupcakes or muffins spray your paper/foil liners with non-stick spray and your goodies won't stick to the paper. Thanks for another great blog!
Apr. 2, 2011 6:12 am
Virginia Mom ? Apr. 1, 2011 8:09 pm Wilton makes a cake decorating tip for "grass" >>> (tip 233)
Apr. 2, 2011 6:16 am
When filling a pastry bag, put it tip side downin a large tumbler and fold it down slightly like a cuff. It's easy to fill and drip will still be inside the bag.
Apr. 2, 2011 7:27 am
Comments: RedApple Apr. 2, 2011 6:40 am Try this one -
Apr. 2, 2011 7:28 am
AngKN Jan. 25, 2011 11:29 am when icing a cake, first dust of crumbs and apply a very very thing layer of icing. Wait about 15 minutes until the thin layer hardens, then ice the generously. The first, thin layer will trao any crumbs that didn't get brushed off and it will allow the thick layer of icing to "stick" to the cake. It's much easier to get a smooth, clean iced cake this way
Apr. 2, 2011 7:28 am
cynjne Jan. 22, 2011 11:20 pm Great Blog! I haven't read the 1st issue of these wonderful tips so please forgive any duplication. The best best tip I have is to read the the WHOLE recipe through before you begin. ALL the way through. Doing so will reward you in many ways. Here are a few benefits: 1) You will gain a much better feel for the recipe. Isn't that the part many chefs find exciting? 2) Better estimate the time it will really take to prepare and serve, and any steps that you can do ahead. 3) Identify any ingredients you only think your have in your cupboard, avoiding that mad last limit dash to the grocery store. Many great recipes turned into disasters and a total waste of food, not to mention a waste of time.
Apr. 2, 2011 8:00 am
You can use a toothpick to create a feathered design on icing. Just ice the cake or cookie, pipe lines of a different color horizontally about an inch apart, then lightly drag the toothpick up the cake (away from you), the move it an inch and drag it back toward you. Repeat until done. Easy effect.
Apr. 2, 2011 8:55 am This is informative and fun to watch even if you don't bake.
Apr. 2, 2011 10:52 am
[RE: modeling figurines on cakes]Answered by: rosiepoo Apr. 2, 2011 9:54 am You can make them with fondant, but gum paste is recommended. Gum paste isn't as soft as fondant and dries hard. You can also use modelling chocolate, but I still prefer gum paste.
Apr. 2, 2011 3:21 pm
[RE: favorite cupcake frosting]..Commented by: Sweettreats Apr. 2, 2011 2:06 pm 2 cups butter room temp 1/2 cup crisco 3 lbs powdered sugar 1 cup dutch cocoa ( Droste) 3 T meringue powder 1 t salt 5 oz chocolate liquer (opptional) 2 T milk 1 T pure vanilla 2 cups refrigerated Ganache I don't remember using meringue powder but you never know it's been a year since I lost the recipe. Enjoy! For ganache take one packe semi sweet chocolate chips, 1 cup cream, 2 tablespoons butter and a splash of vanilla. Heat cream in sauce pan until it starts to boil. Turn off the heat and add the remaining ingredients stir until melted. Let cool. This is my favorite chocolate butter cream. I used it on the chocolate bassinet cake and the German chocolate cake in my photos.
Apr. 2, 2011 3:46 pm
If you have reusable piping bags, do not put royal icing in a bag that has once had buttercream in it, some of the grease from the buttercream will still be there.
Apr. 2, 2011 4:03 pm
Good one Alex!
Apr. 2, 2011 4:05 pm
I use a cookie/ice cream scoop to fill cupcake pan easily without the mess. I also use the scoops to transfer fillings, icing, ice cream so I don't have to pour it on top of whatever I am doing and then try to spread it around without breaking a cookie crust or a cake.
Apr. 2, 2011 4:06 pm
MySweetCreations asks: Apr. 2, 2011 4:00 pm I have been searching around for a little bit for some hints. I am making a red velvet and cake batter ice cream cake just like theirs but all homemade from sctatch. I originally throught the white icing was whipped cream since I have tasted it before, it is very light, but they describe it as a "fluffy white frosting." They use a very thin layer, so I am trying to decide what to lightly cover the ice cream cake in.
Apr. 3, 2011 4:08 am
I also use "the floss trick" for cutting cheesecake and sometimes I use sewing thread. For pan release I use this concoction ****** I store it in the fridge and just before putting together my batter I take a small spoonful and let it sit out for a while to soften up and then brush it onto my pan, works great! I use parchment paper to line my cookie sheet though, to get it to stop curling at the edges I turn it over and then swiftly pull both edges outward for it to straighten up, takes a couple pulls sometimes but it works for the most part. I love to bake in my springform pans more than my regular cake tins, so I use the pan release spread on the tin (bottom and sides)and then I cut out a circle from parchment paper which measure about 1 or 2 inches wider than the base, then I line the inside of the pan with it (so the pan release makes the paper stick to the bottom and up the sides. I choose to still lightly grease the paper itself afterwards. This prevents cake batter from seeping through the "space" in the bottom of the pan and removing cakes are a breeze too! I also love to use my springform pans for frozen desserts but don't need to do the parchment paper thing because of the crusts most frozen desserts have. I always lightly grease the pan with the spread before proceeding with the frozen desserts.
Apr. 3, 2011 5:36 am
My mom decorated cakes on a self turning lazy susan (from microwave?) so she didn't have to stop and start her piping.
Apr. 3, 2011 3:35 pm
[Q: How to stencil cakes?]Answered by: Baker75463 Apr. 3, 2011 3:28 pm Try coating the back side of a plastic stencil with a little butter or vegetable oil spray. Make sure to test how the oil effects the frosting before you experiment on your cake. I've also made paper stencils, laid them very lightly on the cake, and dusted with cocoa powder, but I always have to touch it up afterward. I think the best way is to make the design itself out of chocolate or ganache (or fondant), and apply it to the cake. You can make one easily by printing the design from a computer, taping plastic wrap over it, and piping over the design with melted chocolate. If your chocolate gets streaks in it, try adding some veggie oil or cream during melting. In this case, you may need to freeze your stencil to help it peel off the plastic. Hope that helps!
Apr. 4, 2011 12:25 am
I have several. Use a stiff frosting dam before adding fillings. This will prevent blowouts. Lay a piece of wax paper on top of a filled cake and place either a dinner plate or a piece of tile to help your cake settle before frosting. Use dental floss to level your cake tops before you remove cakes from pans. Use a crusting butter cream and let cake air dry for 10 to 15 minutes lay a printed paper towel on top and gently smooth with your hand. Then move to the sides. This will cover up any imperfections. After baking wrap your cakes in plastic wrap and freeze. This helps keep your cakes moist and reduces crumbs during frosting. Take cakes out of the freezer and let thaw on the counter wrapped in plastic wrap for two hours before decorating. Buy a box of Amazing Mold putty sold at Michael's. It only takes a small amount of putty to make a silicone mold that you can use with fondant, gum paste and even chocolate. I have used it to make brooches and a bark pattern for embossing fondant to look like a tree truck.
Apr. 4, 2011 2:17 pm
Every year for the office Christmas potluck lunch I make cream puffs (command performance). My best trick is to not use a pastry bag. Instead, I clip a small corner off a ziploc bag, insert a pastry bag tip and then fill the bag with the cream puff filling. Zip it closed and its the easiest way to fill cream puffs with minimum mess. And the filling looks extra special that way. When done, just pull the pastry bag tip out through the hole and toss the bag. I've literally made hundreds of cream puffs with this technique.
Apr. 5, 2011 4:29 am
Thanks, Sweettreats - loads of good info!
Apr. 5, 2011 4:33 am
vallygirl, thanks you just reminded me. If you use ziplock bags for icing decorations, first cut two small demi-circles or triangles between each crease just above the tip (leaving tip in place) this will create a design, then you can cut the tip off for a regular round effect.
Apr. 5, 2011 7:02 am
I wish I could decorate cakes & cupcakes like the ones I see on AR but alas my decorating equipment was inherited and probably belongs in the Smithsonian. Why replace it? The guys just inhale sweets as fast as an ice cream cone melts in the August heat of MO.
Apr. 5, 2011 8:16 am
Cat equipment is ancient...but still works just fine. Most of my icing tips are identical to ones still sold today. A couple tried and true hints.....keep those icing tips covered with a slightly damp papertowel so the icing doesn't crust over on the end. The cheap empty condiment bottles in the picnic section at the dollar store make great containers either for storing extra icing or for flooding the tops of cakes/cookies. Pipe an "edge", let it harden for a few minutes, thin icing enough that it can be squeezed from bottle and it will cover top of cake/cookie smoothly and quickly. Just starting back into decorating after 25 years (I took a couple classes in jr. high) - thanks for all these extra tips !
Apr. 5, 2011 8:57 am
Apr. 5, 2011 8:57 am
Apr. 5, 2011 8:58 am
Apr. 5, 2011 4:33 pm
Wow, lots of great tips! I learned quite a few myself from reading. I have never subscribed to a blog - but I think I am going to figure it out. I also tend to use the ziplock bags. I find the pastry bags to be way to expensive and difficult to clean. It does take practice using them though. I like using the paste type food colorings. The liquid ones take too much to make a color and can water down frostings, etc. When a recipe says to butter and flour a pan I always just spray with a pan spray like PAM. My cakes, breads, etc. always fall right out of the pan. The butter flour combo can sometimes act like a glue. For making the swirly designes on the cupcakes use a very large tip! Azteco are my favorite ones. They are commercial quality and size. To transport a cake use the cardboard circles you now can get at even Wal-Mart. If it is for my house I either just decorate directly on my cake pedestal or if I use a cardboard I cover it in foil to re-use it again. Make neat designs for desserts by drizzling melted chocolate. Freeze the design and then after it is hard it will pop right off the parchment. And, it will make neat stand up designs for cakes, etc. To melt put about 1 cup of semi-sweet choc. chips in the microwave for 1 min. Stir after 30 seconds. Add veg. oil to get correct drizzling consistency a tsp. at a time. Sur la table and other baking stores sell all sorts of neat professional grade sprinkles for cupcakes silver, gold, pearls! I found the best cake pans for all my cakes have 3" sides. No spill over and it creates even cakes. This is an odd mix of tips, but they popped into my head after reading the others! If I think of more I will add them. I know most of these are common to people that bake all the time, but I figured I would post in-case someone who doesn't can learn something to?
Apr. 5, 2011 4:34 pm
Whoa! Sorry, Mavel - I didn't meant to write so much, honestly! :0
Apr. 5, 2011 4:35 pm
I meant "Marvel" sorry!
Apr. 6, 2011 3:49 am
BB, Sorry I tried to thank you for the tips last night, but kept getting bumped off the net. After a dozen tries, I watched some Mad Men :) TY!!
Apr. 6, 2011 3:53 am
I buy props for cakes that remind me people, so it's here when I need to create something. I won't say what I used the chattering teeth for, but you get the picture! :D
Apr. 6, 2011 10:46 pm
I am trying that recipe for "chocolate clay" I will let you know how it works. If it turns out I would like to try some with white chocolate to. The white flowers look so pretty.
Apr. 6, 2011 10:51 pm
Another recipe I tried recently was "stabilized whipped cream" or some name close to that. It allows you to use real whipped cream and pipe it on without it melting or losing its shape. I was recommended using whip cream stabilizer also. I just got it in the mail, so I still have to try it. But, I also found that it can be bought at World Market. The recipe above or the whipped cream stablizer powder is for people that don't like traditional icing or want to pipe borders with the whipped cream on pies or cakes.
Apr. 7, 2011 7:33 am
What is a good recipe for icing? and glaze? I made home-made cinnamon rolls yesterday! No icing.. Everybody at my Bible Study said, these taste fine without! :) Hopefully..
Apr. 8, 2011 6:39 pm
Thanks, Hannah
Apr. 9, 2011 12:01 pm
baker_hannah - if you ask that question on the buzz also, you can get some recipes attached. I can think of a couple but can't remember the name right now. A simple icing to drizzle is pretty much powdered sugar, and a tad of milk and vanilla. And, some people prefer a cream cheese frosting for the cinnamon rolls.
Apr. 9, 2011 12:04 pm
Hey, Marvel - I wanted to post back about the "chocolate fun clay" recipe on AR I just tried the other day. It is also known in the cake decorating world as Modeling Chocolate. Either way, it worked pretty good. I used dark chocolate chips as that is what I had in the house. It was a tad sticky but I washed my hands and the water kept it pliable and not sticking. I want to try some real white chocolate chips and make some pretty white roses. I think it will look great on a chocolate cake. On my profile I posted a pic. of some of the chocolate roses.
Apr. 27, 2011 9:08 pm
Lots of great tips here! Equal parts oil, shortening and flour mixed together makes a great Pan coating. I use it on cake pans and than line it with wax paper, cakes pop right out. I do the same as sweettreats, wrap my cakes while slightly warm and freeze. They stay moist and this way you can bake in advance if needed. To make your own stencils for cakes and cookies take the picture you want, put it underneath a piece of glass (like from a picture frame) lay a transparency over it (like a overhead transparency film) and trace the picture with a X-acto knife or even use a electric soldering iron. When using a piping bag don't fill it up to much, it spills out the top and gets really messy. Also your hands warm upthe icing(especially if your new to decorating or nervous) and the consistency of the icing will change/melt. If it does start to get to soft you might be able to get away with popping it in the freezer for a few minutes, it does depend on the icing. Also is a great sight for decorating ideas, questions and loaded with lots pictures to look at! is to cake decorators what allrecipes is to cooks!
Apr. 27, 2011 9:08 pm
Btw When I said lots of great tips here I was talking about the ones before my post not mine in general lol
Apr. 27, 2011 9:11 pm
Dang forgot to add this again sry! Filling up your icing bag to much also makes it harder to pipe, it will hurt your hands!
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Marvel is my mother's name and her kitchen is where I started learning to cook. It should also be Gramma's kitchen, Auntie Jean's, Auntie Phil's, etc. Still learning from friends, family and you all. Many thanks and all the best!
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