Friday, September 20, 2013
Cake Decorating with Frozen Butter Cream Transfers
For The Fish's birthday, I wanted to do a Dr. Seuss theme, but apparently no bakeries have the licensing to put actual Seuss-y images on cakes (at least not the run of the mill bakeries around here). I wasn't about to pay the kind of money you'd have to pay for a super custom cake from a fancy bakery when this cake was just for my 1 year old to smash and throw on the floor, so I wasn't sure exactly how I wanted to tackle the cake issue.
Then I remembered that a fellow blogger and long time friend of mine had posted about using frozen butter cream transfers (FBCT) to decorate cakes. She made it sound really easy, so I figured I might as well give it a try!
Since we did a One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish invitation, I decided to use the Blue Fish as my cake decoration.
I should pause to say that I had never decorated a cake in my life. I had to Google how to assemble the little icing bag thingies with the tips and everything, and I have the shakiest hands on the planet. If I can do this, anyone can.
I whipped up a batch of Wilton Butter Cream Icing. I thought it tasted gross, so I added more vanilla extract than it called for and a little salt since I was using unsalted butter in my recipe. Then I mixed it for much longer (I had read that mixing it for a long time would improve the flavor). With those modifications, the flavor was good!
The first thing you're supposed to do is make a mirror image of the design you'll be using. Since I wasn't using any words in my design, I didn't do this. Basically it didn't bother me that the fish in my design would face left instead of right.
Tape the design down to a flat surface. It should be something that can easily fit in your freezer. I used the smallest cutting board we have. Then tape a larger piece of wax paper over the design.
Assemble the icing bags and practice making lines so you know how much pressure to use when you start drawing your design. I used a size 1 tip for the outline of the fish.
Remember that the first icing that you put down is going to be the foreground of your design. Start by outlining the design and filling in any shading/details that you need. You can see where I messed up on the outline in places and just wiped it off and started over (that's what all the black smudges are about).
Begin filling in other areas of your design. You should try not to leave blank spaces between your icing lines. Another tutorial I read said that you could use a small plastic paintbrush (the kind you get with cheap watercolors when you're a kid...obviously a new one) to make sure the icing is smoothed out and doesn't have blank spots. I didn't do that as you will be able to tell from the finished product in a little bit.
Remember that what you're looking at right now is the BACK of the design. Cover the whole back of the design with the same color icing that you will use to frost the cake. This is creating a little "podium" for your design to stand on and will help it be more stable when you pop it off the wax paper and onto the cake. You can go past the outline a little and it'll be OK because it will blend with the icing you're using on the rest of your cake. Once you've covered the whole design, use an offset spatula to smooth it out carefully. Try to make the whole thing about the same thickness.
All done, but just leave your extra icing in the bags and stick them in the fridge (see step 7). Put the design in the freezer and let it harden. I also put it in the freezer in between each icing color to make the outlines harden up. I only kept my finished design in the freezer for a few hours, but I've read that you can keep it in there for much longer for better results.
When you're ready to put it on your cake, undo the tape that's holding the wax paper to the solid surface you put in your freezer. Turn it upside down onto the cake and carefully remove the wax paper, revealing your design.
I did have a problem with a little bit of my outline sticking to the wax paper, so I had to touch up those spots with a little icing once it was on the cake.
To get a really smooth butter cream surface on your cake, follow these instructions for tips on smoothing out the icing with a smooth textured paper towel before adding your design. Here's my cake before and after the paper towel trick.
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