The easiest way to decorate a sponge cake is to place a paper doily on top of the cake and sprinkle icing sugar through a sieve. But like everything else, to do with cake decorating there is a right and wrong way! First make sure the cake is flat. If not cut away the curved surface, upturn the cake and use the base as the top. Spoon icing sugar into a fine nylon sieve – away from the cake – then hold over the cake, and gently tap the side of the sieve to distribute a fine layer of sugar over the cake. Remove the doily very carefully.
Alternatively, cover the top of the cake with icing and tie a wide band of ribbon around the sides. This is a quick way to make a cake look special. If the cake covering is either marzipan or sugarpaste (roll-out icing) the edge of the icing can be crimped. Crimpers are cake decorating tools, rather like tweezers with decorative ends. They are used on soft coverings to make various patterns and are a quick and effective way of decorating cakes, even wedding cakes.
If marzipan is popular, use it to completely cover a cake. After crimping around the top edge, decorate the top of the cake with colourful marzipan fruits.
Iced cakes need a decoration at the base – between the cake and board. This usually consists of a piped border, but a band of ribbon around the base of the cake looks just as good, particular if it blends in with the cake decorations. Another base border is to make a long, narrow roll of sugarpaste or marzipan. Stick the roll along the base of the cake and use crimpers to make a pattern.
Glace icing is well known as a quick coating for a cake. Instead of making this type of icing with water, use egg white instead. Icing made with egg whites is thick and very white. Just froth the white up slightly and gradually add icing sugar until the right consistency. Test this by dropping a spoonful of icing back into the bowl. The mark it makes should disappear within a moment or two.
Buttercream is another quickly applied icing. But make sure it is soft enough (like beaten double cream) otherwise it will pull crumbs from the surface of the cake. The safest way to make sure this does not happen is to cover the cake with a thin layer of melted jam. Leave it in the fridge for an hour, and then coat with buttercream.
There are lots of cutters around now to cut a variety of shapes from marzipan or sugarpaste. Making models from moulds is also a very quick type of decoration. Figures, animals, drapes, and all types of models can be made from marzipan or sugarpaste. Sugarpaste can be too soft for modelling, so either blend some flowerpaste into it or add CMC (a gum additive) one teaspoonful to 250g, wrap tightly in a plastic bag and leave for an hour or two to allow the gum to work before using.
To prevent the paste sticking, lightly dust the surface, of the paste and the mould with icing sugar. Make sure the paste is crack free by kneading it slightly before using, then press firmly into the mould. Cut away any excess paste, knock out of the mould carefully and leave to dry in a warm area. To secure the models in place use Sugar Glue or soften down a knob of sugarpaste with a drop or two of water