Classic cake decorations (cream, fruit, meringue, chocolate, jelly) are familiar and tried by many hostesses who are fond of pastry. However, sometimes you need to prepare a special cake with spectacular decorations – for an anniversary, wedding, New Year’s Eve or other holiday. In this case, the tips of experienced confectioners who know how to make cake decorations and know how to turn an ordinary sour cream cake into a culinary masterpiece will come in handy.
Mastic – sweet confectionary plasticine
Mastic is an elastic confectionery material made of powdered sugar, reminiscent of plasticine – from it mold various figures, flowers, reliefs, three-dimensional inscriptions, plot compositions, or completely cover the cake with it. To prepare mastic, you can use special tools – rollers, scrapers, stencils, shapes and shaped knives. In the absence of confectionery equipment, use an ordinary board, rolling pin, knife, food film and cookie molds. Mastic is tinted with natural or artificial food dyes, but do it at the initial stage of preparation – when mixing the ingredients. To reduce cloying (after all, a lot of powdered sugar goes) in a lot of sometimes added lemon juice.
Types of mastic and the subtleties of its preparation
Viscosity of the material gives starch, gelatin, condensed milk, chocolate, marzipan, honey, marshmallow and marshmallow. In accordance with this there are different types of mastic – gelatin (marshmallow), marshmallow, milk, sugar and honey. Pastillage hardens quickly, but remains elastic, so it makes spectacular flowers. Honey fondant is very soft and pleasant to mold, as is milk fondant – it has a very beautiful snow-white color and pleasant texture. Some confectioners add a little oil to the mastic to make it more plastic.
Preparation of mastic is not very difficult – all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, and sometimes heated in a water bath, if so specified in the recipe. If necessary, a little more powdered sugar is added, which plays the role of flour when kneading the dough. The board and rolling pin are usually covered with starch, so that the mastic does not stick, and the finished pastry “plasticine” is stored in food film. And an important point – to decorate cakes with mastic usually proceed when the top layer of cream hardens.
Making mastic with your own hands
Gelatin mastic is made from 2 tbsp. of gelatin powder, which is mixed with cold water, and after swelling the container with gelatin put on a water bath for a few minutes until it completely dissolves. To the gelatin add 450 grams of powdered sugar, “knead” mastic, roll it into a ball, and then wrap it in clingfilm.
Chocolate mastic is a very tasty and beautiful decoration for a cake, for its preparation you will need 100 grams of dark chocolate melted in a water bath, and 90 g of marshmallow, which are added to the melted chocolate. First, it is recommended to hold the marshmallow in the microwave – just a few seconds, so that it softens. At the same time it is necessary to stir the mass thoroughly all the time, so that it does not stick. When the marshmallow is half melted, add 40 ml of cream (30% fat content), 1 tbsp. butter, 1-2 tbsp. cognac, knead well and add 90-120 g of powdered sugar. At first, the mastic is kneaded with a spoon, and when it becomes thicker, do it by hand.
Milk fondant is easy to prepare – in a bowl they mix 200 g of condensed milk, 2 tsp. lemon juice and 250 g of powdered sugar. All the ingredients are kneaded until a homogeneous texture, and then the mastic is rolled out on a board and cut out of it beautiful figures.
To completely cover the cake, roll out a large round pancake, lay it on the cake, making sure that its top and sides are completely covered. Mastic is smoothed with hands and remove the excess, which can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two months. When the mastic hardens, pastry chefs recommend warming it slightly in the microwave or in a water bath.
Almond marzipan from children’s fairy tales
Often mentioned in Andersen’s fairy tales, marzipan is another confectionary “plasticine,” made from powdered almonds and sweet syrup (or powdered sugar), with sugar accounting for more than one-third of the weight. Marzipan is a very elastic material, from which one can mold complex shapes and fairy castles without glue additives. The real marzipan is made exactly from almonds, adding other nuts will deprive the mass of plasticity. There is another secret of making this product – for 20-50 sweet almond kernels take 1 bitter nut, which you can buy in specialized stores for confectioners. This light bitterness helps marzipan to fully develop its flavor and aroma, and gives it a special zest. If you can’t find bitter almonds, you can replace them with a few drops of almond extract, bitter almond oil or almond liqueur. However, adding these ingredients to decorate the cake is not necessary at all. The lack of bitter notes will not reduce the plasticity of marzipan, it just will not have that characteristic flavor.
Decorating cakes with marzipan
German confectioners know about 200 ways of making marzipan. All these methods can be divided into two – hot and cold. The hot method consists of boiling sugar syrup, which is mixed with almond chips, but the plasticity of this mass decreases as it cools, so to cover the cake with marzipan decorations should be molded as quickly as possible. The cold method is the easiest, as the almond flour is combined with powdered sugar and kneaded well. If the almonds are of poor quality, the homogeneous mass will not turn out, so confectioners in such cases recommend adding an egg to bind the ingredients. Of course, the egg should be very fresh, and such products should not be stored for long. Various flavorings are added to marzipan – liqueurs, cocoa, orange zest, spices and rose water.
How to decorate a cake with marzipan? First, you should prepare it – best of all, the cold method, since it is much easier. To do this, 350 g of almonds are poured for a few minutes in hot water, so that it is easier to remove the skin. Peeled nuts are slightly dried in an oven, without allowing them to change color, and then they are ground into flour. Beat 2 eggs, add 175 grams of powdered sugar and boil the mixture in a water bath until it becomes a cream. Remove from the fire, add the almonds to the eggs, add 1 tsp. lemon juice, then thoroughly whip the marzipan. Sprinkle the board with powdered sugar, put the nut mixture on it and knead the almond “dough” until it finally thickens. You can add dyes to marzipan, and then mold whatever you want – objects, flowers, animals, and architectural structures.
Fondant for cake decoration
Fondant is a boiled sugar syrup, which is whipped with a mixer and cools to become a thick, viscous glaze or a brittle and hard fondant. It all depends on the composition of the syrup and how it is made. Syrup can be cooked without additives, in which case we are talking about sugar fondant. If you add milk or cream to the syrup, you get milk or cream fondant. Fondant comes in chocolate, fruit and berry, nut, protein, crème brûlée – depending on what ingredients are added to it.
For creamy fondant you should mix 100 g of very heavy cream, 1 cup sugar, 40 g of butter and bring the mixture on light fire, stirring all the time. Boil the fondant until it acquires a creamy hue, and to check the readiness, throw a drop of the milk mixture into the water. Ready fondant rolls easily into a pliable ball.
Very tasty protein fondant, for which 2 cooled whites are whipped with a pinch of salt until a fluffy foam, and then gradually add to them 300 g of powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
Ready fondant is better stored in the refrigerator, covering the bowl with food film to prevent it from drying out, it is applied to the surface of the cake with a cooking brush or a culinary bag.
You can decorate the cake with biscuits, marshmallows, marmalade or use a simple stencil and powdered sugar. Involve children in decorating confectionery – they will surely enjoy sculpting masterpieces of mastic or marzipan. Decorating cakes together is a bonding experience, and having tea with delicious desserts together makes life a never-ending pleasure!