Fool-Proof Ways To Decorate An Insta-Worthy Cake

Ladies, trust me when I say patience is a virtue.

Pssst! My masterpiece is in the center, 2nd from left!

Baking used to be my form of therapy. I remember back in Uni when I would hide in the kitchen and whip up dessert after dessert every time an assignment stressed me out. I did it for fun and didn’t really care about how it looked like as long as it tasted great. That was the case until good looking cakes became a trend on Instagram and I started to question why I couldn’t achieve the same results.

Then it hit me.

My passion for baking decreased when I started to become lazy. Soon after Uni, I moved to KL, started work, and in between trying to ‘adult’ and make time for naps everyday, baking was something I did less and less. Hell, it even took me one and a half years to buy myself an oven, so you can see where my priorities were at.

With that said, ever since I got my oven, I’ve been slowly starting to bake again. It might not be as often as before but I believe baby steps help. Which was why when the opportunity arose for me to attend a Modern Dual Tone Wedding Inspired Cake workshop by Raymond Tan and The Buttercake Factory, I accepted it immediately (trust me, I emailed my editor to call dibs before anyone else could)!

Many of you might be familiar with Raymond Tan, a self-taught baker from Malaysia who currently lives in Melbourne. He rose to social media fame when his colourful cake designs and adorable cake pops started spreading like wildfire over the internet and since then, he’s become quite the household name around the world. The Buttercake Factory on the other hand, was an account I’ve been following since day one when they were only selling classic butter cakes. So you can probably tell how excited I was to attend the workshop and learn from the best.

After six hours of getting my hands dirty, I’m proud to say that I decorated my first designer cake. Will I do it again? Well, let’s just say, I’m never underestimating the work these bakers have cut out for them anymore.

Click through the gallery below to find out what I’ve learnt during the workshop and what I think you should take note of the next time you’re thinking of making a cake worthy of > 200 likes on Instagram. On the other hand, if you’d like to give cake decorating a try yourself, just keep your eyes peeled to The Buttercake Factory’s website as they announce new workshops every month!

Raymond turned out to be super sweet and surprisingly, very honest. I appreciated how he admits to finding alternatives when it comes to baking equipment because good ones can be very expensive nowadays.

 

Raymond also explained to us the difference between the three main types of meringues.

  1. French meringue is not suitable for our Asian weather.
  2. Italian meringue is best for macarons.
  3. And lastly, Swiss meringue is the easiest to make.

P.S. Icing sugar works best when making meringue as most of the time when we buy icing sugar, there’s already the component of corn starch in it that helps to stabilise the shape of the meringue.

One thing I took away from learning how to crumb coat was to CALM DOWN. This picture was taken when I was freaking out about the amount of buttercream I was putting in between the cakes. What you don’t see, was that after this shot, buttercream flew into my hair because I started to panic and didn’t take things slowly.

So my advice, just take a deep breathe and relax. You’re neither on Masterchef nor is 1 million dollars on the line, so enjoy every moment of seeing your cake come to life.

Raymond’s trick to crumb coating – “Don’t rub the cream on the cake, push it against the cake to lock the crumb in.”

For those of you who wonder how cake pops are made, they’re basically made up of mixture of crumbled cake and buttercream.

There are many recipes online, but Raymond’s main tip for making cake pops is to never use a sponge-y cake because it’ll not only make your cake pops have a rubbery texture, the shape will also not stay.

During the coating process of the cake pops, Raymond shared that his go-to ingredient is compound chocolate.

“How do you know if your chocolate is compound chocolate? Well, it should have another vegetable oil component (coconut oil, palm oil) in it besides cocoa powder. I love compound chocolate because no matter how hot you melt it, it will set unlike couverture chocolate. Couverture chocolate is made up of cocoa butter and chocolate.”

Raymond added that to achieve the perfect coating on our cake pops, all we need to do is add shortening to our melted chocolate.

“Thick chocolate cracks your coating as soon as it touches your cold cake whereas shortening adds more oil and in return, softens the chocolate. Allowing it to coat more beautifully.”

 

Raymond is a big advocate of experimenting and being adventurous. He admits that his cakes used to be over the top with all sorts of colours but has since toned down to adapt a more professional approach.

One thing to remember when coating your cake: The softer your buttercream, the shinier and smoother it looks, the harder the cream, the bubblier it’ll get.

 

Can you tell that I’m feeling really stressed out here?

“Keep your hands stable as you don’t want any lines forming. Scrappers should be at a 60° angle to the cake and 90° degree angle to the board. Don’t be too fast as you’ll reveal bubbles on the buttercream however if you’re too slow, lines will form. So just do it confidently and don’t be nervous.”

Easy for you to say Raymond. For us who’ve never had a go at coating a cake (and is bad at math), we wouldn’t know what a 60° even is.

Well, I guess I did pretty well, didn’t I? You know what they say, practice makes perfect! Raymond was quick to reassure us every time we gasp at a mistake we made that he himself has had his fair share of cake disaster nightmares but nothing stopped him from giving up.

His advice: “Don’t beat yourself up over small mistakes. So what if you get bubbles on your coating, you can always patch it up after or cover it with decorations.”

This other tip is completely unrelated to the picture but I’m going to share it anyway because it’s a good tip.

1. Always weigh your eggs. We often take recipes from the internet and it usually just tells you the number of eggs to use. What we don’t realise is, the size of eggs varies from country to country. Reality hit Raymond when he moved to Melbourne because what was considered a large egg here in Malaysia, was a small egg there. So his suggestion, always weigh our eggs to make sure we get the right amount we need.

The one lesson I took home from the workshop was to always know when to stop. Decorating can be fun but sometimes less is more.

Here I am taking that last advice very seriously.

I did it guys! I decorated my first designer cake!