Friday, October 5, 2012


 Another year, another combined birthday party for my boys, another cake-decorating challenge! Ben got in early and requested a Spiderman cake for his 5th birthday. Toby, who was turning 3, kept to the theme by asking for a Batman cake. The bar had officially been raised. My spidersense told me I'd be needing some black, black and more black icing. Holy trip to the cake decorating supply shop,  Batman!
During the compulsory internet research phase of  this project, I discovered that colouring icing black is hard work. Knowing that I'd be using it for outline as well as colouring the inside of the batman logo, I went for ready-made Wiltons black icing. I also purchased blue, red and yellow gel colours for colouring my buttercream icing, as with a small squeeze they produce much truer, brighter colours than floods of their liquid, supermarket counterparts.

I came to the conclusion a while ago that although it is a great product for moulding and decorating purposes, I am not a big fan of the taste (or texture) of fondant icing, particularly when used in large quantities. This year I tried a new technique - frozen buttercream transfers. As seen in the third photo, you begin by finding a template for your design (colouring-in pages are great, as are image searches on the internet). I taped the templates to a flat surface (a baking tray), covered them with wax paper (uncommon in Australia, but can be bought at Coles), and also secured that with tape. Using a No. 2 icing tip (the smallest in my set) and coupler on the tube of black icing, I outlined the designs. This took a long time, especially the Spiderman, which would have benefitted from a No. 1 tip as the design is rather detailed! After leaving the outline to dry a bit, I filled the outlines with coloured icing using a piping bag. During both phases, I used a fine paint brush to gently press down on any lifted areas as I went. Finally, I covered the entire area of each transfer with the colour I was using to ice the cakes - a soft shade of yellow. This was to protect the surface of the iced cakes from any colour bleeds once I applied the transfers. I used a small, angled spatula to gently smooth the final icing layer on the transfers before placing the tray in the freezer. Once complete, buttercream transfers can be left in the freezer for up to 24 hours. Before I even started the process, I had baked, cooled and iced the cakes and left them in the refrigerator for the party the next day.

About half an hour before serving, I took my iced cakes out of the fridge and removed the transfers from the freezer. For each transfer, I untaped the wax paper, lifted the transfer up off of the tray and gently flipped the frozen design over on to one of my hands while peeling off the wax paper with the other. Then I placed the transfer onto the cake. Overall, I was very impressed with the quality of the images (I had thought Superman could turn out to be a spectacular fail). The transfers were a little thick and stood up from the cakes, but this could have been disguised with some decorative piping had I the time or any remaining icing! I imagine that with practice, I could produce a thinner transfer.

The boys were very chuffed with their superhero cakes - mission accomplished (for another year)!

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