Having a cake of the correct shape is fundamental to any good cake design. If, like some, you shy away from carving cakes you are limiting yourself to just basic shapes. Yet with a little bit of courage and armed with a sharp knife, it is perfectly possible to sculpt a shape from a cake that can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.
Having the correct cake
It is very important when attempting to carve a cake that you choose a recipe that is dense enough to carve successfully. I tend to use flavoured Madeira or a good quality chocolate cake. However other recipes do work as well, so experiment with your favourites. Do not attempt a carved cake with a lovely light fluffy sponge. It will, of course, taste delicious but will be very difficult to carve and may well collapse with the weight of the sugarpaste once covered!
To fill or not to fill!
It is not necessary to add fillings to the cakes. However, I have found that many people do like their cakes filled with jam and or flavoured buttercream. To add a filling split the cake into a number of horizontal layers and add your choice of filling. For best results when carving cakes, add only thin layers of filling, thick layers tend to make the cake more unstable and so less suitable for carving. Also, do not be tempted to put jam and buttercream on the same layer as this will cause the top layer to slide so making the cake unsteady.
Tips for carving cakes:
It is very important that you use a large sharp pastry knife when carving cakes. If you use a blunt knife, it can be hard work and the cuts you make may not come away cleanly. You may also find that sections of cake fall away as you carve, which although they can be repaired are not ideal.
It is much easier to successfully carve a partially frozen cake than it is a fresh cake. Freezing also allows you not only to bake the cakes in advance but also to carve more intricate shapes without the cake crumbling and falling apart. How hard your cake freezes depends on the settings of your freezer. It may be necessary to let your cake defrost slightly before attempting to carve.
How accurately you need to carve a cake will depend on the shape you require. A handbag is an organic shape so it doesn’t matter if it is not completely symmetrical. For a wonky style cake, for example, you will need to be more exact.
Interested in being expertly guided through the carving process? Join me for a carving class. Visit our Learn with Lindy page to find out how. Over the years I have taught many carving courses from simple hearts, designer handbags, stylish cats to my world famous wonky cakes so why not treat yourself and learn some fundamental skills at the same time?