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The Forgotten Art of Cake Decorating - Different Methods in the Sugar Arts

Feb 27, 2008
You might be surprised to learn that many people take cake decorating quite seriously. If you are like most people, you probably think of it as an activity that is better suited for your grandmother. But you would be wrong. Among cooking professionals, cake decorating - also known as one of the sugar arts - is well respected and admired as a true skill and art. Here is some information on the its background.

Cake Decorating - An Edible Art

Why are cakes decorated? They are decorated for two basic reasons: to increase the aesthetic and decorative appeal of the cake, as well as to complement or improve the taste and texture of the cake. Decorating is more often considered as a means of improving the visual appeal of the cake, and some master decorators have elevated it to a high edible art. This art can do a lot to improve the appeal and impression of the cake.

A Short History of Cake Decorating

The special edible art of cake decorating can be traced back to the mid-17th century. The art appears to have roots in Europe during this period, especially in the northwestern provinces of Europe. It quickly spread in popularity, and is now a popular edible art throughout many parts of the world, including North America, South America, Australia and New Zealand. Of course, some of the world's most respected decorators and cooking institutes continue to thrive throughout Europe.

Different Styles in the Sugar Arts

There are various different methods in the sugar arts. But there are several basic techniques that are shared by all decorators and decorating styles. Most decorating involves using icing or other kinds of decorative sugars, including chocolates and candies, to decorate. Cake decorating, however, can be as simple as sprinkling it with iced sugar or decorative sprinkles, or adding a glossy sweet glaze to the cake. All of these are basic examples of different methods. However, the art can also be much more complicated than this.

Common Motifs in Cake Decorating

There are many common motifs that are frequently found in the sugar art of cake decorating. Some of the most common motifs include flowers made of icing; decorative icing borders, fondant, marzipan figures and flowers, molding gum paste decorative borders, and glazes.

The Lambeth Method

This is a traditional method that uses an over piping technique. It is a complicated technique that uses royal icing piping on cakes covered in fondant. Then, on tops of this, decorative lacework is added to the curtain-like effect. Other hallmarks of the Lambeth Method include scallops, scrolls and string work.

The Australian Method

This is another common technique, commonly referred to as the Australian Method, that also employ the use of royal icing piping on an intricate curtain and lacework.

The Wilton Method

The Wilton Method is another popular style. This style focuses on butter cream icing. Butter cream icing is used to cover the entire cake, and it is also used for decorative touches and flourishes such as flowers and simple to very intricate designs and decorations. The Wilton Method has quickly become one of the more popular methods because it allows even beginners to advance through different stages of design. The Wilton Method can move from basic decorative techniques (Level I of the Wilton Method, to flower patterns and borders (Level II), to rolled fondant and tiered techniques (Level III), and up to customized designs.
About the Author
Josephine Gauttier is the author of the popular eBook "The Art of Cake Decorating". You can find more information about cake decorating at http://www.artofcakedecorating.com
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