Six techniques down and three to go. This week we are looking at modern and artistic metallics within wedding and celebration cake decorating.
Metallics give a design a very special and celebratory feel; after all – gold and silver, by their very nature, have meanings of worth and importance. Within design, however, it can be easy for metallics to tip into being extremely luxurious, or even ostentatious – so there is a very careful balance to keep things modern and artistic. When used well, metallics can add so much personality to a design and really bring a cake to life.
From food colour dusts to real edible gold and silver leaf (yes that is correct...real gold and silver that are edible!) - there are many ways to use metallics within cake decorating.
SOME OF MY FAVOURITE EXAMPLES
PATCHES/FLECKS. Small patches or flecks of gold or silver leaf can add so much 'oomph' to a design. They can take an otherwise quite simple creation and turn it into something really stunning. A classic and romantic cake, perhaps with some beautiful sugar flowers, for example, could be given a completely different personality with the addition of some silver leaf patches – transforming it into a very modern and creative design. Alternatively a very artistic cake, with a nature-inspired texture and some abstract wafer flowers, could be given a refined and elegant slant using some gold leaf flecks.
DOTS. To be precise – piped dots. Piped dots are one of my absolute favourite techniques for adding an extra touch to a design – and I'll talk about them more when we cover 'Piping' later in the series – but when you then add metallic paint into the mix you go to a whole other level. Gold and silver food colour dusts, with their shimmer and lustre, can be mixed with vodka (or boiled water) to create the most memorising liquid paints...like pools of melted metal. You can combine colours to create jewel tones, for example, or stick with the classics of gold and silver – either way, painting piped dots with metallic paint can add a really artistic and modern touch to almost any design.
LEAVES. Most of you probably know by now that I love looking to nature for inspiration. It's a great balancer and can add so much depth and personality to a design. Leaves are one of my favourite aspects – and something I think a lot of people overlook (instead getting distracted by the eye-catching blooms). One of the most exciting things about a modern and artistic cake, however, is that rules don't really apply – so although nature can provide a guide for a design, it doesn't have to dictate everything about your creation. You can look at the shape, form, and detail of a leaf but choose to use metallics instead of natural greens, for example, to create the feel you are after. Metallic leaves (whether made from wafer paper or flower paste, or painted directly on the surface of the cake) are an amazing way to lift a design. They can take a romantic and nature-inspired cake and make it style focused; or they can add a natural touch to a very artistic cake – without detracting from the overall modern personality.
WHERE TO START?
Dots, as well as being one of my all time favourite techniques, are perhaps one of the easiest decorating elements to learn. They are also one of the most transformative details to add to your portfolio, as they work well on so many different designs. Once you have mastered piping dots, adding a metallic touch is very easy. It takes a little time to get them neat but the design impact is fast.
My preferred method for creating metallic paint is always mixing metallic food colour dust (sometimes called lustre dust) with vodka. There is a fine balance between creating a paint that is too runny and transparent to cover the dots, and too thick and clumpy to apply smoothly – but you will get the hang of it with practice.
With all metallics my biggest tip is little by little. Unless you are purposefully trying to achieve a very lavish effect (which wouldn't be in keeping with a modern and artistic design) it's better to add touches slowly so you can keep an eye on the overall balance. It's more than possible to achieve a modern and artistic cake with a lot of metallic elements or coverage – when mixed well with other techniques – but it's also very easy to tip over the edge and end up well away from the feel you hoped to achieve. Careful design and consideration is needed.
Metallics really can add that special 'something different' to a cake design, and work so well on wedding and celebration cakes. With metallic food colour dusts and edible gold and silver leaf there are so many modern and artistic ways to incorporate metallics into a cake design. If ever you are at a loss with what's missing from a design – metallics can often be the answer.