There are a number of things you need to consider when sculpting cakes — type of cake to structure, filling, decor, etc. To get the most high-quality cake, follow these tips.
1. Plan Your Attack
Depending on your project, print the image of your sculpted cake to scale. This is as simple as deciding how tall you want the cake, approximating the portions and printed it in different sections, lining them up and then taping them to your kitchen wall for reference.
Use a marker to draw the general shapes you want to carve (minus any small details) and any support elements you need to include.
2. Choose the Right Recipes
It’s important to know the consistency of your cake and choose appropriate fillings. A very tender and open crumbed cake won’t do well with carving and fillings that can’t firm up under refrigeration are not good choices for sculpted cakes. Swiss Meringue buttercream is always a good go-to filling.
The thicker and more solid each layer of cake and buttercream is, the easier to carve. You’ll find that you get less crumbling, fewer chunks jumping off the cake and less going over the same areas to refine. Just like with layered cakes, be sure your layers are level and firmly resting upon the last.
3. Make Sure the Cake is Firm
Before carving, remove the excess buttercream and place the filled cake into the refrigerator for about two hours to chill and again and firm up. This makes for much easier and cleaner carving.
4. Use a Smooth Knife for Small Details
While you can use serrated blades, and some tutorials might specifically call for them, using a sharp, straight blade is great for the finer details of carving. Serrated knives can lead to one side when cutting, giving you uneven and unexpected cuts, and they take off bigger chunks. In general, you want to keep in mind that you can always go back and remove a bit more. It’s far harder to recover from taking off too much.
5. Don’t Throw Away (Or Eat) The Excess!
It’s so hard to leave those little heavenly bites alone, but seriously, they can come in handy with your design. Always save them until the end. You never know what might happen.
6. Create a Smooth Base For Your Fondant
Ganache is a great choice to coat you fully carved cake prior to covering in fondant or modeling chocolate. But when you have such natural, rounded and organic curves with many sculpted designs, it’s sanity-testing to use a spatula to get a nice finish.
7. Keep the Finishing Details in Mind
It’s tempting to finish your cake’s sculpting and detailing and be ready to sit down with a cup of tea and a good book and relax. But did you remember to finish off the cake board? Simple little extras, like a nonpareil-covered baseboard, take the project to a different level. Always think details — that is where your success will always be!