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Wedding Cakes and Baking Terminology

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To secure royal or buttercream icing flowers or plastic decorations, pipe dots of icing to "attach" the decoration to an iced cake. Royal Icing dries hard and is more permanent than buttercream. Use your icing to attach as you would use "glue."

A piping technique that features interwoven vertical and horizontal lines (like a wicker basket).

A continuous decoration used around the top, side or base of a cake.

A smooth, creamy icing that stays soft so it's easy to cut through. It can be colored and/or flavored. Also used to create piping, swags, and other borders, as well as decorative rosettes. It can be used as filling, too. Buttercream is made from butter (as its name implies), so it may melt in extreme heat or humidity.

Candy clay:
Candy clay comes in many formulas, but it's usually a combination of chocolate and corn syrup to keep the chocolate pliable. It can be modeled in many ways and is often used for larger pieces like bows and ribbons. It can also be used to make flowers.

Run Sugar:
This relates to other names such as "Floodwork", or "Icing Runout". It is Royal Icing that is thinned down with water, and formed into a picture. You outline the picture with thicker icing, and then thin the icing down. It flows out of the bag filling the area. After it dries, it is lifted off the wax paper, and set down on the cake on top of sugar cubes or wax paper cutout, so as not to come into contact with the grease or humidity of Buttercream. Very fragile. Good idea to make two or three. For a shiny effect, use a warm light bulb shining close to the surface while drying for 48 to 72 hours.

Cornelli Lace:
An elaborate piping technique.

Decorating Tubes:
The size and shape of the opening on a decorating tube determines the type of decorations the tip will produce.

Dotted Swiss:
A piping technique

Round, edible sugar balls coated with silver or gold and used for decorative purposes.
When we use the term elongated shells, leaves, etc., it means to taper an icing decoration by relaxing bag pressure and moving before stopping the technique.

Figure Piping:
Decorating technique used to form figures out of icing.

Frosting, preserves or pudding that's spread between cake layers and holds them together.
A sweet, elastic icing made of sugar, corn syrup, and gelatin that's literally rolled out with a rolling pin, draped over a cake and dries with a porcelain-like finish. It's makes a smooth, firm base to decorate a cake with gum paste flowers, decorative details, and architectural designs. It can also be used to make flowers and other decorations with. It dries fairly hard, but not as hard as Gum paste. Flowers made with fondant are generally not as delicate as Gum paste flowers. A fondant covered cake should not be refrigerated unless it contains perishable items.

A sweet, rich chocolate, denser than mousse but less dense than fudge, which can be used as icing or filling. It is made of chocolate and heavy cream, and will soften in very humid weather.

A type of sugar used in commercial candies and frosting, baked good, soft drinks and other processed foods because it doesn't crystallize easily. Also called dextroglucose or dextrose. Check in a store that has a large cake decorating section or offers cake decorating classes.

A colorless, odorless, syrupy liquid made from fats and oils and used to retain moisture and add sweetness to foods. It also helps to prevent sugar crystallization in foods like candy. Stir into icing to restore consistency or use to soften fondant or royal icing.

Gum Paste:
A sugar paste (dough) with a gum stiffening agent, this mixture is most often used for handmade flowers and other three-dimensional decorations. Flowers made from Gum paste usually look the most lifelike. It dries very hard and breaks easily if not handled gingerly. Gum paste is susceptible to heat and humidity. If properly stored, Gum paste decorations will last for years as keepsakes.

Gum Arabic:
When gum arabic is mixed with varying amounts of water, it can be used as a glaze for marzipan, or an edible glue for gumpaste. Used as a glaze it gives the decoration a glossy sheen.

Gum Tragacanth:
An ingredient used in the making of Gum Paste. This ingredient can be found at large cake supply stores.

Icing "Pearls":
To pipe icing "pearls" on your cake, fit a round-holed icing tube (a #3-5 works fine) onto a pastry bag. Then, simply coat the inside of the pastry bag with clear piping gel before loading the pastry bag with icing. Fill one side of the bag with white icing, the other side with some pink icing. When you squeeze and release, glistening "pearls" of icing are formed.

Icing Runout:
A name used for the technique of "running" Royal Icing into a pattern or pre-traced design which has been prepared for "running out". It runs out because it's so thin. Same as Floodwork, Color-Flo.

Iridescent Powders:
These give cakes and decorations a pearlescent finish.

A piping pattern

Removing the "crown" of a cake to provide a flat surface for frosting or decorating.

A paste made of ground almonds, sugar, and egg whites, used to mold edible flowers or fruit to decorate the cake. Marzipan can also be rolled in sheets, like fondant, and used as icing.

Outline or Strings:
When the outlining method is used, the icing that flows out of the tip to follow contours of a shaped cake or to cover pattern design marks are called "strings" or outlines.

glycerin, corn syrup or shortening and it dries even harder. It can be rolled very thin and is used primarily for decorative ribbons, shapes and appliqués, as it dries bone-dry and crusts more quickly than Fondant. It is also used to make sugar greeting cards, picture frames, bells, boxes or other containers which can then be decorated with piping or sugar flowers. It is considered "technically" edible, but if eaten, it will not harm you, but it is not palatable.
Separators used in a tiered cake, such as a wedding cake. They can be made of plastic or wood in several lengths to achieve the desired look.

Decorative details created using a pastry bag and various metal tips. Piping details include leaves, borders, basket-weave patterns, and flowers.

Piping Gel:
Tint, flavor with concentrated flavored oil and make various designs. Even make a design transfer.

Pulled Sugar:
A technique in which boiled sugar is manipulated and pulled to produce flowers and bows.

Rolled Buttercream:
is similar to Rolled Fondant. It's stretchy so it's rolled out. The cake is first covered with a very thin layer of buttercream icing, and the rolled buttercream is laid on top. The rolled buttercream is sweet and very pliable. You can also mold roses out of them.

Rolled Fondant:
(It may be referred to as "Sugarpaste"). Originally called "plastic icing" in England, this thick, malleable dough made of powdered sugar, corn syrup, gelatin and glycerin with added flavor and then optionally tinted. Typically, it is rolled out and then draped and smoothed to conform with the shape of the cake for a flawless matte finish, making it a popular covering for wedding cakes. Rolled fondant can also be modeled, formed, twisted, imprinted, cut out to form eyelet lace and used to make scrolls and flowers. It can be used to cover cake boards. It acts as a smooth base for pastillage flowers and royal icing details. Fondant can be made from a recipe or bought from a cake decorating store. Many people dislike its taste and leathery texture, others have tasted the ready-made flavored varieties, and like them greatly. Most popular flavors would be Almond, and Lemon. Other flavors available commercially include Peach, Strawberry, Cappuccino, and Caramel. Chocolate Fondant is also available, and there is a White Chocolate Fondant available as well. Marbleizing, rolling together fondants using white and chocolate is a favorite of mine.

Royal Icing:
It is usually made with egg whites and confectioner's sugar and can be tinted in any color. Some recipes call for raw egg whites, which I don't recommend if you are going to eat it. Alternatives to raw egg whites exist, including pasteurized dried egg whites, or meringue powder. This icing starts life as a soft paste piped from a pastry bag to create latticework, beading, bows, and flowers. Flowers made from royal icing are usually not as expensive as hand-modeled ones, such as Gum paste, because it takes less time to make them, but they're also less lifelike. When dry, its texture is hard and brittle and keeps virtually indefinitely. Do not refrigerate.

Using your spatula edge to make a mark in icing or marzipan, for example, by gently pressing it against the surface.

Sugar paste:
An icing sugar (sugar paste) or a gum based paste (Gum paste). Easy to mold, shape, color and roll out and you don't have to wait for the sugar paste to dry before finishing the final decoration on the cake. Use powdered sugar to make a very flexible sugar dough. Sugar paste is suitable for wedding cakes, because the dough can be saved for years at room temperature.

A procedure for putting a finish onto the surface of a cake

A dense cake that does not use leavening agents like baking powder or baking soda.

Whipped Cream:
This very flavorful frosting is made of heavy cream and sugar and usually has some type of stabilizer to prevent it from breaking down. It must be kept refrigerated and is unstable, thus not recommended for outdoor weddings.

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