How To Handpaint A Cake

Learn how to create an especially unique handpainted cake by following these tips.

A handpainted cake is a rarity; so imagine the delight on the face of a recipient of one. When hand painting a cake, you have every color that you can mix up using food coloring at your disposal, and additionally, there are wonderful edible glittery powders that can be found at your local baking supply store that will add a delightful gilded effect if you so desire.

The first thing you need to do is bake a cake that will hold its shape and make sure that it is perfectly level. You will want to go ahead and put whatever filling you like between the layers, and then, instead of putting regular frosting on the cake, you will need to drape a layer of sugar paste over the cake. The downside to this is that sugar paste is not nearly as tasty as buttercream frosting, so make sure that your inside layers have plenty of yummy frosting!

It is recommended that you purchase the sugar paste. Recipes for it require specialty ingredients, and it is a persnickety recipe to make. The thick consistency will also burn out all but the hardiest mixers. After purchasing the sugar paste, roll it out into a size that will cover the cake, and gently smooth it on.



At this point, you can either begin painting the cake, or you can get fancy and add some royal icing decorations. Royal icing is easy to make and only requires egg whites, confectioners sugar and a few drops of water. Beat a couple of egg whites until they resemble the consistency they would have if you were about to cook them as scrambled eggs. Then add one pound of confectioner's sugar a bit at a time as you run the mixer. Then add a couple of tablespoons of water and continue beating. Do not add any flavoring that will change the color of the icing. If you add flavoring, make certain that it is transparent. After the icing is made, you can pipe on dots, swags, or whatever decorations you think will be fitting. You may want to plan your design in advance, adding royal icing only where it will compliment your final design. For example, you may wish to put dots of royal icing where you anticipate painting flower petals. They will make a nice center for your flower. Of course, if you have a variety of decorating tips, you can make all sorts of additional designs, such as leaves, which will give your cake an amazing eye-opening 3-D appearance. It is entirely possible to spend as much time painting your cake as you might an oil painting, so make sure that your filling is non-perishable, as you don't want to feel rushed to put your cake in a refrigerator. Also, when dealing with sugar paste, refrigeration can give it a tacky texture, so you will want to do your painting before it has been refrigerated, and for optimum taste and texture, it is best not to refrigerate cakes or sugar paste at all.

After royal icing has taken on a hard consistency, begin to paint your cake, using a new paintbrush that has been reserved for food only. Only your imagination limits you in this regard. Simply mix a bit of food coloring with water and paint away. Just make sure that you go lightly with the brush, and don't waterlog the sugar paste and icing on the cake! Most bakers prefer the paste food coloring at the specialty shops, which comes in a wide variety of colors and is capable of being very vibrant. Of course, you can use ordinary food coloring as well. One thing to note is that you can purchase "white" food coloring that serves to mute colors, so that you can mix reds and oranges along with it, and end up with a pleasant shade of peach, for example.

Try painting your cake with a blend of colors, adding in swirls or spirals for a dreamy, abstract effect. Crosshatches will give you a nice springtime look, and flowers are easy to paint, and will make your cake very romantic! If you do not feel comfortable painting freehand, try making a template from a waxed paper, or use a plastic template that is usually used for painting designs on walls. The advantage to making your own templates is that you can obtain the scale that you want for your design. Take an Exacto knife and cut out the shape that you desire, and repeat around the cake as many times as you would like.

Another thing that you can do is to draw your design on parchment paper, and then place the design face-up on the cake and lightly trace over it again with a pencil, leaving a faint imprint in the sugar paste for you to follow.

If you have used royal icing accents, don't forget to paint them as well. It is especially pretty to burnish them with the edible glitter that you can make into a paste suitable for painting.

Regardless of your painting skills, you can make a unique cake. You will find that the sugar paste offers the perfect canvas to showcase your creativity. Just make sure to take lots of pictures, because this is one painting that is not permanent!

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