Saturday, August 9, 2008

Let's Talk About Cake!

NYC Cake Decorators Meetup members Laura, Linda, Patricia, and Antonia created the wedding cakes you see in this post.

Before you start looking for the right person to entrust with the creation of your
wedding cake, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the more common terms used for wedding cakes and pastries. Here is a quick list of some of the terms you should know:

The Cake

Butter Cake: The American butter cake contains 6-12% solid butter. It has a soft light texture, flavorful, not overly sweet, and can accommodate a variety of frostings and fillings.

American Sponge: is light and moist enough to be eaten without a soaking syrup and therefore maintains a springy, lighter-than-air quality.

Genoise: is a European sponge-type cake which differs from American sponge in that it contains butter and much less sugar. Sugar syrup is used to add flavor and moisture to the cake. Even with the sugar syrup, a genoise is less sweet than American sponge cake.

The Frosting and Filling

Boiled Icing: a marshmellow-like flavored icing often used to frost Latin-American cakes, i.e. Domincan Cake, it has a very smooth and fluffy texture.

Buttercream: A perennial wedding favorite made from butter, cream, and eggs. Its soft texture is easy to flavor but does not lend itself well to outdoor weddings. There are several varieties of buttercream. The most popular are the following: (1) Mousseline Buttercream is made of unsalted butter, sugar, egg whites and liquer, it's very light, smooth, soft enough to pipe borders and strong enough to pipe roses. Holds up better than most buttercreams; (2) Italian Meringue Buttercream is made from egg whites, sugar, butter, flavorings and liquer. It has a creamy texture, almost like whipped cream.

Chocopan: The chocolate version of fondant.

Fondant: A highly versatile sugary dough that makes an excellent covering for cakes. It is made from unflavored gelatin, glucose, flavoring, and confectioner's sugar. Fondant is slow drying and can be used to sculpt sugar flowers, ribbons, bows, and sugar pearls as well. Fondant can be given a satin sheen and is very popular for the limitless possibilities it allows the baker when decorating the cake. Fondant can be made from scratch or purchased from cake decorating suppliers. Satin-ice, a brand of fondant, has a very tasty marshmellow flavor.

Ganache: A delicious and decadent cream sauce made from butter and chocolate. It can be used as a frosting or a filling, but melts quickly in warmer temperatures.

Marzipan: Made from crushed almonds and egg; can be used as a filling or a rolled icing, although it is mainly used to make coloured shapes, fruits, and figures that are placed on the cake.

Royal Icing: This is an icing made from egg whites (or meringue powder), confectioner's sugar and water, which quickly dries to a hard icing. Royal icing is used for delicate decorations such as lace work, fine beading, elaborate overpiping called "lambeth work", block lettering, etc. English and Australian style decorated cakes are often fruit cakes covered in marzipan and coated with several coats of royal icing.

Chocolate Clay: chocolate melted with clear corn syrup and worked into a ball the consistency of clay. Chocolate clay can be used to sculpt chocolate flowers and leaves to adorn a cake.

The Cake Design

Layer: A horizontal piece of the cake. One tier is often made up of two or more layers which are torted and joined together with a filling.

Round: A circular cake. It is the traditional wedding cake shape.

Square: A box shape. It is a modern shape that gives the baker cleaner, more geometric lines to work with.

Hexagon: A cake with six-sides. They are quite popular at the moment.

Scalloped: The edges are curved to resemble the petals of a flower. It is generally used for casual weddings such as garden weddings, tea and brunch weddings.

3-D sculptured cake: The cake is shaped to resemble a familiar object. These are most commonly used for the groom’s cake.

Tier: One 3" to 5" level of the cake (i.e. a 2-tier or 3-tier cake.)

Stacked Cake: two or more tiers stacked on top of the other without a separation between the tiers. Each tier is cleverly supported with wooden or plastic supports.

Topsy-turvy: a whimsical cake which has at least one tier that is intentionally designed to tilt.


Basket weave: Results in a cake that resembles a wicker basket and usually piped in buttercream. A lovely style for informal, outdoor, and garden weddings.

Swiss dotted: Dots that looks like beads are placed randomly all over the cake. A simple but elegant design.

Pearls: fondant pressed in a mold to resemble pearls. Even more life-like when dusted with edible pearl dust. Used most often in borders and to resemble pearl jewelry.

Quilted: A tool is used to mark still-soft fondant into a quilt-like pattern.

Brush embroidery: a technique that results in a pattern (usually floral) that looks like embroidery. Usually accomplished with piping a royal icing outline on a fondant covered cake and then carefully brushing the design with a damp art brush.

Piping: A pastry bag and tip filled with frosting which is used to write a greeting, pipe borders, flowers, ribbons, or other decorations on the cake.

Gumpaste flowers and ribbons: a type of sugar dough made from confectioner's sugar, gum tragacanth, gelatin, and egg whites. It is a pliable sugar dough which dries extremely hard. Cake designers use gumpaste to create breathtaking life-like sugar flowers, ribbons, and butterflies.

Pastillage: is a dough made from gelatin, water, and confectioner's sugar. Pastillage dries quickly to an extremely hard finish. It is used for creating decorations for pastry, showpiece work, and decorative molded forms.

Pulled or Spun Sugar: Sugar is melted down in a pan and then used to make ribbons, bows or thin strands. It is a very delicate procedure that will not transport so it must be done on site.

Blown sugar: is a form of sugar artistry that can be compared to the art of glass blowing. Sugar is heated to 150°C and once the sugar reaches the correct temperature it is blown into sculptures or figurines. The sugar once heated cools quickly and once cool becomes very brittle and easily breakable. It is obviously a very hot medium to work with so extreme caution is needed with the handling of it.

1 comment:

Ann said...

Great list of terms to know, love the photos that you have on the blog, too!