Fresh roses and baby’s breath accent this cake covered with a delicate cornelli lace pattern. A frosting shell border finishes the edges.
Fancy fondant wedding cakes may look like works of art, but the cake with homemade buttercream frosting is what folks actually like to eat. The DIY bride will find many ways to decorate a wedding cake without spending much money. Swirled frosting and fresh flowers is the easiest, and it has been favored by many bride who could have had anything they wanted. It looks so yummy!
If you would like to learn a few basic decorating techniques using a pastry bag and tips, we recommend starting with the shell tip (#16, #18, or #21) for borders and a #2 or #3 round tip for making a lace pattern.
Basic Cake Decorating
Like many projects, this endeavor begins with the right tools. The basics include one large and one small bent-handle metal spatula for frosting, pastry bags and a several sets of couplers, cake-decorating tips, plastic straws, scissors, an electric mixer, rubber spatula, waxed paper, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, and cardboard cake bases (you can cut your own or purchase the ready made kind from the craft store.)
A wedding cake can be stacked or separated with plastic columns, in which case you will also need separator plates as well as columns. Your local hobby, craft, or cake decorating store will have a selection of supplies to choose from. Decorating kits containing bags and couplers, as well as all of the basic tips such as star, leaf, and rose petals are a good way to start.
Using Decorator Tips
To begin, you must fit your pastry bag with a coupler and a tip. Different types of bags may have slightly different instructions. Rely upon the package insert if in doubt. Fill the bag, then squeeze to release any trapped air (it will “burp” out some frosting as the air is released). Practice your decorations on a cookie sheet. It is helpful to fill several bags and keep one in the refrigerator. The heat from your hands can sometimes cause the frosting to melt.
On the day of the wedding, remember to take along extra frosting, bags, a spoon to fill the bag, a damp towel for cleaning up, and toothpicks in case the tip is clogged.
1. The coupler is a two-piece plastic unit with threads in between. Unscrew it and insert the cone shaped piece into the bag. Push it as far down as it will go. Mark the bag about 1/4 inch below the bottom threads on the coupler.
2. Push the coupler back, then cut off the bag at the mark. Replace the coupler, then place a tip over the opening.
3. Screw the plastic ring over the tip to secure it. To change a tip, simply unscrew the coupler ring, replace the tip, and screw the ring back on. Fold back the bag about a third of the way to form a collar. Spoon about 1/2 cup of icing into the bag, pushing all the way down.
4. Fold the collar up and twist the bag just above the frosting. Grip the bag between your thumb and forefinger, squeezing the frosting with your fingers of your other hand.
The Star Tip (for making shells)
To make a shell:
Hold the bag at a 45° angle to the surface, squeeze out frosting, allowing it to build up while pushing slightly forward. Then pull backwards while relaxing the pressure.
To make a shell border:
The tail of the first shell is covered by the next shell and so on. Squeeze out frosting, then relax as the tail is made. Squeeze again to cover the tail with the next shell
Take a quick peek at any bakery brochure and you will undoubtedly see a cake covered or accented with cornelli lace. It looks much harder than it really is. Making cornelli lace is fun and makes an impressive looking cake, even if the frosting underneath is a bit uneven. It will never show after the cornelli pattern is applied.
Use round tip #2 or #3. Thin your frosting with a little water before you begin so it will be easier to squeeze it out of the pastry bag.
Hold the bag perpendicular to the surface. Using even pressure, begin a long, squiggly line. Go over as much surface as possible before lifting the bag. If possible begin or end lines at the edge or bottom of the cake so you may go over the ends with a border. Cornelli lace is used as an all over surface pattern or to fill in swags.
A smaller tip makes a more delicate pattern, but using a larger tip such as a #3 will make the job go faster because it is easier to apply and fills in the area with larger squiggles. Any cake covered with cornelli lace seems to draw rave reviews from guests who will be astonished that you did it yourself.