Having a cake of the correct shape is fundamental to any good cake design. If, like some, you shy away from carving you are limiting yourself to just basic shapes and yet with a little bit of courage and armed with a sharp knife it is perfectly possible to sculpt a shape from cake that can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.
Having the correct cake.
It is very important when attempting to carve a cake that you choose a recipe that is dense enough to carve successfully. I tend to use flavoured Madeira or a good quality chocolate cake, however other recipes do work as well, so experiment with your favourites. However do not attempt a carved cake with a lovely light fluffy sponge, it will of course taste delicious but will be very difficult to carve and may well collapse with the weight of the sugarpaste once covered!
To fill or not to fill!
It is not necessary to add fillings to the cakes however I have found that many people do like their cakes filled with jam and/or flavoured buttercream. To add a filling split the cake into a number of horizontal layers and add your choice of filling. For best results when carving, add only thin layers of filling, thick layers tend to make the cake more unstable and so less suitable for carving. Also do not be tempted to put jam and buttercream on the same layer as this will cause the top layer to slide so making the cake unsteady.
Sharp knife: It is very important that you use a large sharp pastry knife when carving. If you use a blunt knife, it can be hard work and the cuts you make may not come away cleanly. You may also find that sections of cake fall away as you carve, which although they can be repaired are not ideal.
Freezing cake: It is much easier to successfully carve a partially frozen cake than it is a fresh cake. Freezing also allows you not only to bake the cakes in advance but also to carve more intricate shapes with out the cake crumbling and falling apart. How hard your cake freezes depends on the settings of your freezer so you may be necessary to let your cake defrost slightly before attempting to carve.
Measurements: How accurately you need to carve a cake will depend on the shape you require. A handbag is an organic shape so it doesn’t matter if it is not completely symmetrical however for a wonky style cake, for example, you need to be more exact.
If you are interested in being expertly guided through the carving process, why not join Lindy on one of her carving workshops? Click here to see our current class calender. Lindy teaches many carving courses from simple hearts, designer handbags, stylish cats to her world famous wonky cakes – why not treat yourself and learn some fundamental skills at the same time?