Friday, June 12, 2009

4-H Cake Decorating

Alex is a member of the Spring Garden 4-H Chapter. This is her second year to participate in cake decorating. For her first cake, Alex did a cake with a cow face on the front. This year, she decided to do a pair of cowgirl boots and let me tell you, I think it turned out FABULOUS. Of course, I'm a little bit prejudiced but, hey, I do know fabulous when I see it. Alex owes her creativity to her Grandma Bobette. I am not crafty but my mother-in-law can make just about anything and Alex gets it from her.

I must tell you that cake decorating actually doesn't start out with a "cake" at all. It starts out with an empty box, spray painted white, and glued to a board covered in foil. The Miller County fair, where Alex will "show" her cake, isn't until next month and a real cake wouldn't last anywhere near that long, so the kids decorate a box.

The bread and butter of cake decorating, so to speak, is Royal Icing. I had never hard of Royal Icing prior to last year's cake decorating. Royal Icing is made from meringue powder (I'd never heard of that either, but you can buy it at Wal-Mart), powdered sugar and water. Yes, I have heard of those ingredients and they can be purchased at Wal-Mart too. I made two "batches" of icing for Alex's cake.

Alex started by spreading the icing over the box. This forms the base for the decorating. Alex found a picture of some Ariat boots online, blew up the picture, printed it out, cut it out, then laid it on top of the iced cake.

The next step is dyeing the icing. We use Wilton icing colors to dye the royal icing. You have to mix the color into the icing COMPLETELY so there aren't any streaks. It is also important to make as much of each color as you think you will need since it is nearly impossible to make another batch of icing the same color as you made the first time.

Alex started the actual decorating by outlining the boots in black using a Wilton tip made for outlining. You want it to look like a picture in a coloring book and then you use the icing to fill in the lines.

After she outlined the picture and mixed all the colors, Alex was ready to start filling in. To do that, she used a Wilton star tip. You just use your different colors, put them in a plastic bag, attach the star tip and make little stars all over your design.

You just keep making stars in whatever color you want, until the entire picture, in this case the boots, are filled in. Then, to finish off the cake, Alex made white stars all over the top and sides of the cake, then used a larger star tip to make the border.

Royal icing dries extremely hard and will last forever. Once the icing is dry, a baseball bat wouldn't break it. That is why royal icing isn't used to ice a sheet cake, or a cake you actually intend to eat, although when the icing is soft it tastes very sweet.

Ahhhh, a cowgirl and her boots! Ain't that a purty sight to see????!!!!!


  1. Awesome cake!! Cake decorating is always something I've wanted to try (on a grander scale than my previous lame attempts). I was the Crafts leader for several years in our local 4-H. It is such a great organization! Great job, Alex!! -Tammy