How to carve cakes
As with any other skill or art form, carving cakes requires: time, patience and lots of practice; but if you are passionate about it and you’re ready to put in the effort, in good time you’ll be sculpting cakes you’ve only dreamt of. And the beauty is you’ll enjoy every moment of it. So let’s get started!
Here’s what you’ll need
Delicious moist cakes
CAKE: It may be obvious that having a cake is the first and most important thing needed for cake carving, but not just any cake will do. For the best results you need to have cakes that are moist, firm and smooth & soft enough for easy carving. Pound cake or cakes of a similar consistency is highly recommended, as they are moist and won’t crumble (absolutely necessary) when working with them. If you plan to use other cakes that are softer and more likely to crumble, ensure they are moist and partially frozen before working with them.
FILLING: Apart from the fact that they are delicious confections and a great addition to any cake, filling makes carving easier; they hold the layers together and add firmness to the structure. We highly recommend using buttercream or ganache; ensure the mix you use is firm and smooth. You’ll find some links for great buttercream and ganache recipes below.
TURNTABLE: If you don’t already have one, we cannot stress how much of a help having a turntable will be; it saves a lot of sweat and backbreaking. Cake decorating is already a challenging job; you need all the help you can get.
KNIVES: Of course we don’t have to tell you knives are on the list, but it is important to know that a good selection of both kitchen and palette knives are necessary when working. So ensure you have at least four different sizes (from large to small) sharp, smooth edged kitchen knives. For your palette knives you will need both straight and angled types, again, a variety in size is a must. And if you didn’t know, using a palette knife is the best way to apply ganache and buttercream, so be sure to invest in this multifunctional life saver.
DOWELING RODS: Finally, having a sturdy foundation to work with is of the utmost importance when carving a cake, it not only makes the process easier, but creates a better, more stable end product. A link some common cake construction methods that will prove quite helpful is provided below.
Before you begin carving, ensure your cake has been stacked with filling in between the layers and refrigerated for a few hours (or is partially frozen, but not hard). This helps to set the buttercream or ganache and creates a more stable structure. Once you remove the cake from the refrigerator, place on the turntable begin carving. Ensure your knives are clean, ready, sharp and waiting; be sure to work in a timely manner.
When carving a cake, you’ll find it very helpful to get a 2D print out of the design you wish to copy. Ensure your print out is proportionate to the size of the cake you will be making; also, having different angles printed out will help to create a more accurate copy of the design. (both the front and side view for example)
After carving your cake, cover with crumb coat icing and chill again for a few hours before covering with fondant.
Buttercream Recipe: https://www.learncakedecoratingonline.com/?s=buttercream
Common Cake Construction Methods: https://www.learncakedecoratingonline.com/most-common-cake-construction-methods/
Chocolate Mud Cake Recipe: https://www.learncakedecoratingonline.com/how-to-bake-a-chocolate-mud-cake/
Video Tutorials for Carved Cakes:
Venus Flytrap in Flowerpot Cake: https://www.learncakedecoratingonline.com/how-to-make-a-venus-fly-trap-or-pot-plant-flower-cake/
by Stephanie Fraser