Cakes come in all shapes, but if you want something really different:
Carving your cakes will allow you to create the ultimate in unique bespoke design.
In this post I’ll share a few tips and tricks to get you started on the road to success.
It is a fantastic way to achieve surprising and delightfully themed cakes.
Image by Mel Edwards ©2010CC BY-NC 2.0
I’m keeping this post brief, it’s a quick introduction to the basic tips and tricks for carving cakes. If you want to explore further check out this post I wrote for a complete guide for cake sculpting.
What You Will Need to Successfully Carve Cakes
A Plan For Your Cake
Having a well thought out plan can make all the difference between a stunning creation and one that doesn’t quite hit the intended mark.
You’re probably looking to wow your guests or loved ones… the last thing you want is for them to be left wondering, ‘What is it?’
So have a plan, a design…
If you’re creating an original design it can be super helpful to sketch it out including the details and proportions.
Alternatively, if you’re inspired by a specific character or idea that you’ve seen:
Print out an image of it, decide on the scale/size and plan the smaller details.
These simple planning steps will help you decide on the size of the cake, how many cakes you need to bake, and which icings or fillings to use.
A Sharp Knife
As always it definitely helps to have the right tools for the job! Check out my post here about 23 Cake Decorating Supplies to go From Beginner to Pro Decorator.
Keeping an inventory of your toolkit can help you keep track as your collection grows. Keep your eye out for new things that come on the market… I love adding to my kit!
The most important tool, your absolute best friend when it comes to cake carving is definitely, and probably unsurprisingly, the knife.
You’re going to need a good quality, sharp knife that is long, serrated and strong, if you want to have the best results.
You want one that won’t bend when you use it, even on frozen cakes, like the one here. That inflexibility will allow you the necessary precision to carve.
Consider this knife precious and only use it for carving cakes to keep it sharp and in perfect condition!
You can also get a smaller knife for carving more detailed elements.
The Right Cake: Recipe, Layers and Fillings
You will get the best results using a solid cake rather than a crumbly, light and fluffy one. If it’s too light it will be next to impossible to carve and you could end up with a complete (but totally delicious) mess. Bear this in mind when choosing a recipe.
Also remember it when you are deciding whether to use fillings, and if you do, which ones to use. It is generally more helpful to keep the fillings thin, and the layers of cake thick, to create more stability.
Choose the filling and icing recipes which will give you a firm consistency.
Don’t forget to level your layers!
Having level layers of cake, with each resting firmly on top of the next will complete your solid foundation before you begin the cake carving.
A Cold Cake!
Working with a cold, refrigerated or partially thawed frozen cake is more likely to give you a quality result. It is less crumbly and again, more solid.
Here are two methods to achieve your cold cake, either:
- Pop it in the fridge, covered, for a couple of hours, or
- Freeze the cake first and allow it to partially thaw before carving, so it doesn’t crack when you start.
First, cool the cakes and wrap in plastic food wrapping. Then wrap in foil and put in an airtight food bag. Put in the freezer.
The carving process is just the beginning. At that point you are sculpting and creating the base which is then going to be covered with ganache or buttercream, followed by fondant or modeling chocolate.
You’re going to lose some of the detailed carving when the cake is iced, so try to allow for that and exaggerate the shapes during the carving process. This should ensure the shape is still clear when covered with deliciousness.
Something that often gets forgotten:
When it is covered and iced, your cake will also be bigger than the cakes you originally carved so remember to allow for that expansion on your board during the planning stage.
I Would Love to See Your Carved Cakes
I hope these tips help you transform your ideas into your dream cakes.
It can be so much fun and the results absolutely stunning.
Let me know in the comments below if you have tried carving cakes before? And I’d love to see the photos of your cakes there too, so go ahead and upload them.
Have fun and stay creative!
Wrap and Freeze
There are different methods and preferences. Here is a tip learned from Ashlee Marie to preserve the moisture inside your cake sponge.
Instead of letting your cake sit on a cooling rack to cool down, wrap your cake in plastic wrap and take it to the freezer. She explains that this method prevents the cake from drying out, while it sits on the cooling rack the steam that evaporates from the cake is humidity that leaves from your cake.
Obviously, you won’t take your cake immediately from the oven to the freezer. When the cake is cool to the touch, double wrap it and take it to the freezer, never the refrigerator.
You can experiment and see if it works well for you, if not then you can just do it differently.
For example, you can let your cakes cool down completely before unmold them, and then prepare the layers, filling and stacking before taking them to the fridge.