Icing Equipment…

Apart from special icing tubes and screws, and perhaps a few icing "nails", the home cake decorator will require very little extra in the way of equipment than she already has in her kitchen.  If a special hobby is to be made of cake decorating, it is recommended that the bowls and wooden spoons and a glazing brush and watercolour brush should be kept apart just for the purpose, so as to ensure that they are clean and free from grease, which could mar the finished work. 

 

Here is a list of the equipment needed (following which some information is given concerning some of the items listed):

- A set of icing tubes and a least two screws

- Icing bags or sheets of strong white paper for making paper icing cones

- Earthenware or glass mixing bowls

- Wooden spoons

- Icing nails

- A pair of scissors

- A spatula

- A fine pointed watercolour brush

- A pastry brush or a flat brush 1.5 inches wide, for glazing

- A fine-mesh sieve

- A rolling-pin

- Covers for the mixing bowl

- Food colourings

- Some thin white cardboard

- Templates

- A pair of compasses

- An icing turntable (optional)

- A roll of thick cotton wool

- Gold and silver paper

- Cake boards

- Icing clippers

 

Mixing Bowls

- A set of three or four china or glass mixing bowls will be ample.  These should range from about 5 to 9 inches in diameter.  China or glass is preferred to metal or plastic because acetic acid is sometimes used in royal icing and has been known to stain a metal or plastic bowl and to discolour the icing.

 

Wooden Spoons

- Always mix icing with a wooden spoon, preferably one with a large bowl – the icing beats up more quickly and more efficiently when a large spoon is used.

- Avoid leaving the wooden spoon standing in the icing when you are not actually working with it: as soon as the icing has been mixed, remove the spoon and wash and dry it.  Never use wooden spoons intended for icing in general cookery – fatty or greasy substances could be absorbed by the spoon and spoil the icing.

 

Icing Nails

- These special flat, plastic-topped nails are for flower-making and they are available in shops that sell icing equipment.  If they are unprocurable in your district you can improvise by attaching a small square of waxed paper to the end of the handle of a wooden spoon, using a dab of royal icing.  The flower is piped onto this paper.

 

Scissors

- Keep a pair of scissors in your icing kit: you will need them when covering boards, to cut paper for icing bags, and for cutting out paper scallops to use as pattern guides when decorating a cake.

 

Spatula

- A spatula or palette knife with its broad, pliable blade and straight edge will be useful in smoothing the glace icing over a cake.

 

Watercolour Brushes

- One or two watercolour brushes will be useful for adjusting fine pipe-work, for easing softened icing into flooded shapes, and for colouring marzipan fruits or the deeper coloured moulded or piped flowers.

 

Pastry Brush

- This is needed when you are covering a cake with almond paste: you use it to brush the surface with jam before the paste is applied, and to lightly glaze the paste with egg white before it in turn is covered with fondant icing.  The brush should be kept exclusively for cake decorating work.  A small flat brush about an inch and a half wide makes a good substitute if you have not a proper pastry brush.

 

Sieve

- A fine-mesh sieve is a most necessary part of your icing kit.  See that the mesh is free from breaks, because even one small lump in the icing could clog the tube.

 

Rolling-pin

- This is needed for the preparation of both almond paste and fondant icing as well as for rolling out the dry icing sugar.

 

Covers for Mixing Bowl

- Plastic covers fitted with elastic will keep the icing soft while you work, preventing a crust from forming on top, but a damp cloth or piece of thin sponge placed over the bowl is just as good.

 

Thin Cardboard

- Thin pieces of white cardboard, with slits a bout a quarter of an inch in depth round the edge, are useful for holding sugar roses when you remove them from the wooden toothpicks on which they have been piped.  This cardboard is also used to make templates.

 

Templates

- A template is a pattern used to mark out a design.  A simple template for cake decorating work is made from thin white cardboard in this way:

- Draw an 8 inch square on the cardboard.  Mark off the centre on all four sides, then draw lines from corner to corner and from the centre of each side.  With a pair of compasses mark circles outward from the centre and one inch apart.  Pierce the template at the junction of every line and mark two or three sets of scallops on the circle.

- Have templates ready in several sizes, to save time when preparing a design for the top of a cake.

 

A Pair of Compasses

- These are indispensable to the cake decorator.  They are used in measuring, for marking dividing sections before piping a design on top of a cake, and for marking cardboard or paper templates.

 

Icing Turntable

- If you intend doing a great deal of cake decorating, a commercially manufactured turntable is recommended.  These are available in various designs and range in price from a fairly expensive one which allows the cake to be tilted (for decorating the sides) to a very simple and inexpensive one made of tin.  Failing this, the home cake decorator may use a revolving savoury platter, or a large cake tin upturned on a larger tin (such as a biscuit tin) will serve the purpose temporarily.

 

Cotton Wool

- Keep a roll of thick cotton wool exclusively for cake icing work.  It is useful for holding flooded shapes in position while the icing is drying, and will protect the icing on the side of a cake should it have to be turned over and laid on its side on a flat surface (as in the Pram Cake).

 

Cake Boards

- It is usual to have the cake board at least 2 inches larger all round than the un-iced cake, to allow for the almond and fondant icing and for the piped edge.  For wedding cakes the boards vary in size from 6 inches larger than the bottom tier of the un-iced cake to about one inch larger for the middle and top tiers.  Boards made of plywood may be purchased from a general hardware store, or from a timber merchant’s where they will be cut to the required size.  Masonite also makes good cake boards.

 

Extras

- These include a dressmaker’s inch tape, a 16 inch ruler, paper pins or drawing pins, a bottle of gum paste, and a packet of wooden toothpicks to hold icing-sugar roses.  A pick board is handy for piped roses.  It consists of a piece of board such as a chopping board, drilled with holes at regular intervals apart and about one-eighth of an inch deep.  When piped onto the wooden toothpicks the roses are dried on the picks in an upright position on this board.

 

 

You will need to know how to make three basic types of icing if you want to ice and decorate cakes.  One is the undercoat, usually referred to as the almond icing or almond paste.  The second is the covering icing, which is the rolled or fondant icing (this icing also makes moulded flowers and leaves).  The third is the royal icing, which is used for all pipe-work and flower-making.  There is also a modelling paste or icing that sometimes replaces fondant for modelling fruit and flowers, as well as a simple glace icing used for covering sponge sandwiches, plain butter cakes and little cakes such as petit-fours.

Apart from special icing tubes and screws, and perhaps a few icing "nails", the home cake decorator will require very little extra in the way of equipment than she already has in her kitchen. If a special hobby is to be made of cake decorating, it is recommended that the bowls and wooden spoons and a glazing brush and watercolour brush should be kept apart just for the purpose, so as to ensure that they are clean and free from grease, which could mar the finished work. 
 
Here is a list of the equipment needed (following which some information is given concerning some of the items listed):
- A set of icing tubes and a least two screws
- Icing bags or sheets of strong white paper for making paper icing cones
- Earthenware or glass mixing bowls
- Wooden spoons
- Icing nails
- A pair of scissors
- A spatula
- A fine pointed watercolour brush
- A pastry brush or a flat brush 1.5 inches wide, for glazing
- A fine-mesh sieve
- A rolling-pin
- Covers for the mixing bowl
- Food colourings
- Some thin white cardboard
- Templates
- A pair of compasses
- An icing turntable (optional)
- A roll of thick cotton wool
- Gold and silver paper
- Cake boards
- Icing clippers
 
Mixing Bowls
- A set of three or four china or glass mixing bowls will be ample. These should range from about 5 to 9 inches in diameter. China or glass is preferred to metal or plastic because acetic acid is sometimes used in royal icing and has been known to stain a metal or plastic bowl and to discolour the icing.
 
Wooden Spoons
- Always mix icing with a wooden spoon, preferably one with a large bowl – the icing beats up more quickly and more efficiently when a large spoon is used.
- Avoid leaving the wooden spoon standing in the icing when you are not actually working with it: as soon as the icing has been mixed, remove the spoon and wash and dry it. Never use wooden spoons intended for icing in general cookery – fatty or greasy substances could be absorbed by the spoon and spoil the icing.
 
Icing Nails
- These special flat, plastic-topped nails are for flower-making and they are available in shops that sell icing equipment. If they are unprocurable in your district you can improvise by attaching a small square of waxed paper to the end of the handle of a wooden spoon, using a dab of royal icing. The flower is piped onto this paper.
 
Scissors
- Keep a pair of scissors in your icing kit: you will need them when covering boards, to cut paper for icing bags, and for cutting out paper scallops to use as pattern guides when decorating a cake.
 
Spatula
- A spatula or palette knife with its broad, pliable blade and straight edge will be useful in smoothing the glace icing over a cake.
 
Watercolour Brushes
- One or two watercolour brushes will be useful for adjusting fine pipe-work, for easing softened icing into flooded shapes, and for colouring marzipan fruits or the deeper coloured moulded or piped flowers.
 
Pastry Brush
- This is needed when you are covering a cake with almond paste: you use it to brush the surface with jam before the paste is applied, and to lightly glaze the paste with egg white before it in turn is covered with fondant icing. The brush should be kept exclusively for cake decorating work. A small flat brush about an inch and a half wide makes a good substitute if you have not a proper pastry brush.
 
Sieve
- A fine-mesh sieve is a most necessary part of your icing kit. See that the mesh is free from breaks, because even one small lump in the icing could clog the tube.
 
Rolling-pin
- This is needed for the preparation of both almond paste and fondant icing as well as for rolling out the dry icing sugar.
 
Covers for Mixing Bowl
- Plastic covers fitted with elastic will keep the icing soft while you work, preventing a crust from forming on top, but a damp cloth or piece of thin sponge placed over the bowl is just as good.
 
Thin Cardboard
- Thin pieces of white cardboard, with slits a bout a quarter of an inch in depth round the edge, are useful for holding sugar roses when you remove them from the wooden toothpicks on which they have been piped. This cardboard is also used to make templates.
 
Templates
- A template is a pattern used to mark out a design. A simple template for cake decorating work is made from thin white cardboard in this way:
- Draw an 8 inch square on the cardboard. Mark off the centre on all four sides, then draw lines from corner to corner and from the centre of each side. With a pair of compasses mark circles outward from the centre and one inch apart. Pierce the template at the junction of every line and mark two or three sets of scallops on the circle.
- Have templates ready in several sizes, to save time when preparing a design for the top of a cake.
 
A Pair of Compasses
- These are indispensable to the cake decorator. They are used in measuring, for marking dividing sections before piping a design on top of a cake, and for marking cardboard or paper templates.
 
Icing Turntable
- If you intend doing a great deal of cake decorating, a commercially manufactured turntable is recommended. These are available in various designs and range in price from a fairly expensive one which allows the cake to be tilted (for decorating the sides) to a very simple and inexpensive one made of tin. Failing this, the home cake decorator may use a revolving savoury platter, or a large cake tin upturned on a larger tin (such as a biscuit tin) will serve the purpose temporarily.
 
Cotton Wool
- Keep a roll of thick cotton wool exclusively for cake icing work. It is useful for holding flooded shapes in position while the icing is drying, and will protect the icing on the side of a cake should it have to be turned over and laid on its side on a flat surface (as in the Pram Cake).
 
Cake Boards
- It is usual to have the cake board at least 2 inches larger all round than the un-iced cake, to allow for the almond and fondant icing and for the piped edge. For wedding cakes the boards vary in size from 6 inches larger than the bottom tier of the un-iced cake to about one inch larger for the middle and top tiers. Boards made of plywood may be purchased from a general hardware store, or from a timber merchant’s where they will be cut to the required size. Masonite also makes good cake boards.
 
Extras
- These include a dressmaker’s inch tape, a 16 inch ruler, paper pins or drawing pins, a bottle of gum paste, and a packet of wooden toothpicks to hold icing-sugar roses. A pick board is handy for piped roses. It consists of a piece of board such as a chopping board, drilled with holes at regular intervals apart and about one-eighth of an inch deep. When piped onto the wooden toothpicks the roses are dried on the picks in an upright position on this board.
 
 
You will need to know how to make three basic types of icing if you want to ice and decorate cakes. One is the undercoat, usually referred to as the almond icing or almond paste. The second is the covering icing, which is the rolled or fondant icing (this icing also makes moulded flowers and leaves). The third is the royal icing, which is used for all pipe-work and flower-making. There is also a modelling paste or icing that sometimes replaces fondant for modelling fruit and flowers, as well as a simple glace icing used for covering sponge sandwiches, plain butter cakes and little cakes such as petit-fours.