Tuesday, June 8, 2010

How to decorate a ninja cake: a lesson on pattern transfer

I took the Wilton cake basics class this past March at my local Michael's (Hobby Lobby has them as well), and it was really fun. The first course is great for people who want to learn the basics of cake decorating. You learn how to do do stuff like icing a cake, borders, drop flowers, and pattern transfer, plus more. My friend Evy and I decided that, while we already knew how to make delicious cakes, making pretty, delicious cakes has its advantages as well.

The first cake I made for the course was Jake's birthday cake. Now, before I share a picture, let me just defend myself by saying that first of all, I really wanted to incorporate everything we had learned so far into making the cake, and also, it was very close to Easter, and spring, so I was in a very pastel-y mood.

Paige, my roommate, immediately started laughing, and making fun of me, saying it looked like a baby shower cake someone would have given Jake's mother 19-and-a-half years ago, and that she could not believe I made that cake for him.

However, once Jake cut the cake, and everyone had a slice and determined it was delicious, they got over it.

Meanwhile, look at all the different techniques! Tip 5 pastel blue polka-dot circles,tip 2D star drop flowers, the green star border around the bottom of the cake, the shell border around the top, and the yellow and green "heart" on the top of the cake. (Actually, the heart was supposed to be three balloons; if you look at just the yellow portion, you can see how it's supposed to be a balloon, right? Right?)

Anyway, what I want to talk about here is a technique called pattern transfer. It involves finding an image or pattern that you want to use, tracing it with clear piping gel from a decorating bag on parchment paper, then inverting the parchment paper with piping gel onto an iced cake, causing the piping gel pattern to appear on the cake.

So, one day in April, I decided that I wanted to make a ninja cake. A cake with a ninja on it, because what would be more epic than that? I started by looking for a ninja picture on the internet, and then printed it out.

After that, I baked and iced my cake with buttercream frosting (I used the recipe given to be from my cake decorating instructor, which can also be found on the Wilton website). Then, I fitted a plastic decorating bag with a coupler and tip 1 (though tip 3 would also be fine), and filled it with a small amount of clear piping gel. I put a sheet of parchment paper (wax paper is fine, they are the same to me) over my ninja pattern, and traced it with the piping gel. Then, I placed the parchment paper, gel side down, onto the top of my iced cake, and smoothed it down with my hands, tracing the pattern with my finger to make sure the gel visibly sticks to the cake. I then slowly peeled off the parchment paper, making sure that my ninja pattern did transfer onto the cake. I squeezed the rest of the piping gel from the bag back into the container, so it could be reused for another time.

Then I used a decorating bag, filled with black icing and fitted with a coupler and star tip, to outline the gel ninja pattern.

Then, using the star tip, I filled in the ninja outline. And then I used a tip 1 and orange buttercream icing to outline the sword so it looked like it was glowing. What kind of ninja wouldn't have a glowing sword?

At this point, it was very late at night. Between baking and icing the original cake, making the black frosting (where I started with chocolate, then painstakingly mixed in black black gel icing color until it finally turned black), and my usual ADD, I had already spent a few hours on this cake, and it was almost 1 AM. Anyway, it was at this point I was going to "color in" the ninja's face... only, the closest thing I had to a skin-tone icing color was a lemon yellow, and, according to Paige, I could not use that unless I wanted to look like the most racist person in the world (ha ha). So, then Paige decided that I should make the ninja a zombie ninja, and it was late enough and I was tired enough to actually go with that idea.

Of course I had to label it "zombie ninja," because otherwise, I'm pretty sure no one else would have any idea what it was supposed to be.

I also added a blue shell border around the bottom of the cake, and then decided I had leftover green icing and that the obvious solution to using this up was to play with my new leaf tip.

In that last picture, he actually looks a lot like a zombie in scuba gear, don't you think? Scuba-diving zombie? I'm guessing the ocean blue icing and the random plants help that image.

I have a Ninjacake album uploaded on facebook, if you're interested in seeing more pictures, captions included.


1 comment:

  1. Ninja cake looks fabulous. Awesome. Thanks for sharing.