Cake decorating is one of those oft-ignored culinary arts. Although the sight of a beautifully decorated cake delights almost everyone, most people are not aware of the long and intricate history of the art. It indeed has a long and coloured history. Here is a brief overview of the history of cake decorating.
Decorating a cake usually involves covering it with some form of icing and then using decorative sugar, candy, chocolate or icing decorations to embellish the cake. But it can also be as simple as sprinkling a fine coat of icing sugar or drizzling a glossy blanket of glaze over the top of a cake. Icing decorations can be made by either piping icing flowers and decorative borders or by molding sugar paste, fondant, or marzipan flowers and figures.
This has become a form of unique artistry. A person's imagination can create anything. From a single layered cake, decorated simply, to a multi-layered 3 dimensional creation, that is decorated with edible ribbons made of sugar. What was once a fun way to make a child's birthday cake, by cutting shapes out of cake and piecing them together to create a shape, has gone into preformed character pans, and now has become shaping creations out of fondant and different forms of marzipan.
Using this new form of fondant artistry should be used on a heavy cake consistency. It can, however, be used on the traditional cake mix purchased in a store. Fondant is heavier than traditional knife spread frosting. Pre-made fondant that is available in the cake decorating section in stores has little flavouring. A homemade fondant can be made quickly for very little cost. Homemade fondant tends to have a better flavour than the pre-made store bought version.
Fondant exists in many different colours, and its initial form is soft and easy to handle. In this form, cake decorators are able to mould fondant into many different artistic expressions. Many of these expressions are also taught in professional cake decorating classes. Fondant is primarily used to cover cakes, but it is also used to create individual show pieces for cakes.
Royal Icing is a sweet white icing made by whipping fresh egg whites (or powdered egg whites, meringue powder) with icing sugar. Royal icing produces well-defined icing edges and is ideal for piping intricate writing, borders, scrollwork and lacework on cakes. It dries very hard and preserves indefinitely if stored in a cool, dry place, but is susceptible to soften and wilt in high humidity.
Sugar paste is a substance used in cake decorating to create flower decorations. Marzipan is often used for modelling cake decorations and as a base covering underneath fondant
Professional institutes, such as Le Cordon Bleu, have begun segregating their cookery schools, to create completely separate institutes dedicated to cake-making