The Basics of Carrot Cake Decoration

In many ways cake is the Holy Grail of baking.  Beautiful cakes are the ultimate goal of most home bakers and it’s where the money is professionally.  Just look at all those fancy cake shows on the food network and you’ll get a definite sense of this.  So we can accept that your goal may be to be the next big name in wedding cakes, but how to begin?  Well how about we start with making a cake and making it all pretty using nothing but the most basic techniques.  We will look at simple masking your cake with icing and also see how to cover it up if you’re just not happy with the results.  After all, you may not get it on the first time, so practice lots.  You don’t even need to eat the results if you find yourself buried in cake.  I know that my neighbours are more than willing to help me out of such predicaments.

On with the cake!  Carrot cake is the order of the day, with a few tropical twists.

Ingredients

100g Brown Sugar
75g White Sugar
2 Eggs
50g Canola Oil
10g Vanilla Extract
150g AP Flour
5g Baking Powder
2g Baking Soda
Pinch of Salt
5g Cinnamon
5g Fresh Grated Ginger
2g Allspice
15g Grated Carrots
75g pureed pineapple
50g Unsweetened Coconut
50g Chopped Walnuts
50g Fine Chopped Dated

Method

Whip the eggs and sugar together until they reach the ribbon stage, then mix in the oil.  Combine the dry ingredients and fold in.  Finally fold in the nuts and fruits.  Poor into an eight inch round cake pan and bake at 350° for about 30 minutes.

Now that we have the cake we get to the meat of this adventure.  First we have to cut the cake in to two layers.  A lazy susan or cake turn table is very nearly required for this.  I use a lazy susan and put the cake on top of the overturned cake pan I used to bake the cake.  Next, take your serrated cake knife and place other hand flat on top of the cake and begin a DSCF2451shallow cut in the side.  Turn the cake as you cut, slicing slightly deeper each time you make a full circle.  Once you are about three quarters of the way to the middle it’s safe to finish off cutting the cake in half.  A carrot cake is pretty delicate, so be careful when lifting the top off.  Most cakes you can be a little rougher and cut into three layers instead of just two.

So now that we have our layers we fill with icing.  White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing works a treat for this cake so here we go:

Ingredients

250g Hard Cream Cheese
40g Softened Butter
90g Melted White Chocolate
350g Icing Sugar

Method

Cream the cream cheese and butter until light and smooth.  Mix in the white chocolate quickly so as the chocolate doesn’t seize.  Next, sift in the icing sugar and whip in until smooth.DSCF2454

Put a good dollop of the icing in the middle and using a straight baking palette knife with your finger on one side of the flat spread the icing evenly around the cake.  Carefully put the top of the cake back on the, umm, top and get ready for the next step.

Put most of the rest of the icing on top of the cake and use the same technique described above spread the icing around the top and once it’s even, spread it over the side.  Next, holding the palette knife vertically, run the knife around the edge to spread the icing around it.

DSCF2459Now, maybe you’re not happy with your results.  Maybe the icing job is uneven or maybe you can see crumbs through it.  Let’s cover that up and make our cake look even more fancy.  Let’s take some our shredded coconut from earlier and put it around the edges.  This is simplicity itself.  Pour some in the palm of your hand, put your hand below the level of the cake and tilt the coconut on to the side of the cake.  And hey, remember that candied pineapple from a while back.  Lay it nicely on the top and we have ourselves quite the crowd pleaser.DSCF2482

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