Someone just asked me to name my favorite cake decorating tool. That is a very big question.
First, let’s define tool. According to Webster’s dictionary – tool, noun: 1) a hand instrument used to aid in mechanical operations. 2) the cutting or shaping part in a machine; also a machine for shaping metal in any way. 3) an instrument or apparatus used in performing an operation or necessary in the practice of a vocation or profession. That’s the definition that works for cake decorating! and 4) a person used by another. Hey that’s me! Glad to help you!
So now, what’s my favorite tool? Hmmmm…There are too many to choose from – angled spatulas for icing my cakes, pattern presses for easy designs and lettering on a cake and stencils too, rolling pin guide rings for fondant… And the list can go on and on. But my three (I know they only asked for one!) favorite tools that I could not live without are:
I know it might sound silly but I use these items the most.
1. Cake Release
Cake Release is used for coating cake pans instead of greasing and flouring. Shake the bottle and then squeeze a small amount in the pan; use a pastry brush to lightly coat the entire inside of the pan. Then add your batter and you know the rest…bake, cool and release without STICKING! I have even forgotten to remove a cake and it still came out of the pan without sticking.
2. Bake Even Strips
Bake Even Strips are used for baking a level cake. These strips properly conduct the heat so the cake sides don’t bake before the center. Have you ever baked a cake where the center raised higher than the sides? That happens because the sides baked first because they are closer to the heat, which makes sense…right?
To use Bake Even Strips, soak them in water, squeeze out the excess so they don’t drip, and pin them around the outside of round, square or sheet cake pans. Sometimes you can get them around a few of the character cakes, but it does depend on the shape of each pan. Then bake your cake and the results will surprise you! A more even height cake! I’ve lost the pins that come with each set and have been using those U-shape drapery pins or you can get T pins at a hobby/craft shop.
3. Parchment Paper
Then there is the parchment paper (on the roll). It is great for baking cookies, especially when you hate washing the cookie sheets between batches. You don’t need as many cookie sheets when baking if you are using parchment paper. I usually use 2 or 3 sheets and I only put one in my oven at a time so I rotate as needed. I can get my cookie shapes rolled out, dropped or shaped as needed before a cookie sheet is ready.
I just take a damp cloth and wipe the table or counter where working, then place a sheet of parchment (cut to same size as cookie sheet) down and go to work with my cookie dough. No major mess to clean up after baking, just throw out the parchment. You still have to wash your cookie sheets when your baking is done, but no more scrubbing those baked-on tiny fragments.
I swear by parchment not only for baking or smoothing out my buttercream iced cake, but also for lining my roasting pans. I hate cleaning my roasting pans that are used for any meat or even casseroles or lasagna! Before, I would have to let them soak before scrubbing and scrubbing. No more! I just line the pan and let the parchment paper extend up the sides. If doing a roast on a rack, place the parchment under the rack.
But remember, parchment paper does not work for broiling or toaster ovens…unless you want a fire roasted meat! If you don’t have it on the roll, you can use parchment triangles for lining cookie sheets, smoothing your iced cakes and lining pans. But it just won’t hold the liquid like the one piece from the roll.
So now, let’s hear what’s your favorite tool? I’m sure each of you will have something different. I know Wilton’s Blog is one of your favorite tools too! You can learn so much by sharing with each other. Keep it going, keep sharing and we’ll learn together.