Piping – Practice Makes Your Bunny Cake Perfect

by moderndomestic on April 5, 2010

Bunny Cake

Bunny cake! You wouldn't know it to look at it, but this cake was the culmination of an entire Saturday's work.

Lately, I’ve been trying to work on my piping skills. It’s always one of those things that I mean to work on “some day” – you know, one of those magical days when I have time and patience and a full set of pastry tips.

But, I’ve finally made the full commitment, if you will, to actually trying to learn to pipe. I made my first big test run this Saturday – I made a bunny cake for a friend’s Easter party, and did some basic piping techniques for the face, ears, and decorative borders. The design, by the way, was a tip from Theresa Luongo Pinelli of Treet – you make the cake from one cake round, and then slice the ears from another.

Piping

From my practice runs with the star tip.

It’s not perfect – I still don’t know how to get my frosting perfectly smooth on top. But I was rather pleased with the ears – they’re just little stars that I piped with a star-tip, but they look really cute. And it was neat to deploy some of my new piping skills on little details – like those roses with leaves.

Bunny Cake Detail

More flowers with the star tip.

So do you want to get your piping game on? Do what I did and make a “practice” buttercream frosting from powdered sugar, shortening, and corn syrup. You can use it to try out different piping techniques, and when you’re done, just store it in the fridge. To re-use, either re-beat in your mixer, or let it come to room temperature before you fill your pastry bag.

Practice Buttercream
From The Cake Bible, By Rose Levy Beranbaum
Makes three cups

Note: this will make a medium-stuff frosting. For thin frosting to practice writing, flower stems, and leaves, use 2 tbs water and 2 tbs corn syrup. For a stiff frosting, which you can use to practice flowers with upright petals, leave out the corn syrup entirely.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups solid vegetable shortening
4 cupss powdered sugar (lightly spooned into the cup)
2 tbs water
1 tbs light corn syrup

Place shortening in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Gradually beat in remaining ingredients on low speed, alternating dry and liquid. Increase speed to medium and beat until smooth and creamy. Store in an airtight container. Will keep indefinitely if stored in fridge.

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April 9, 2010 at 6:04 am

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Olga @ MangoTomato April 5, 2010 at 9:02 am

such a cute job! I think you did a great job piping: especially the ears!

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moderndomestic April 5, 2010 at 9:10 am

Thanks Olga! Yes, the ears are my favorite part too. Gotta love that star tip!

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Sylvie April 5, 2010 at 9:35 am

So cute! I will look to see what kinds of piping supplies they have at the restaurant depot the next time I go!

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moderndomestic April 5, 2010 at 9:36 am

Awesome. Actually the next time you go could I come along? I really want to see what it’s like. Mmmm . . . piping supplies . . .

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mary April 5, 2010 at 9:44 am

This cake is AWESOME. More importantly, where is restaurant depot. Sounds like a magical place.

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Meaghan April 5, 2010 at 11:56 am

The cake is totally cute!

My mom took a Wilton cake decorating class at Sears when I was just a toddler and she honed her skills in the 27+ years since. She makes her own buttercream frosting for everything – 1 box of confectioner’s sugar, one stick of room temp butter, 3 tablespoons water or milk and 1/2 tsp each of butter, vanilla and almond extracts.

For smooth icing she does the following:
1. glazes the cake first with a water/icing mixture
2. lets that harden completely
3. ices the cake using metal icing spatulas (the kind that are bent just at the base; she never used a straight spatula) that have been hanging out in a glass of warm water, changing frequently and shaking off the excess water as needed

I know that’s a bit unsolicited, and I can’t pipe much of anything myself despite my years of “apprenticeship”, but I do know the warm water trick works!

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moderndomestic April 5, 2010 at 11:32 pm

Ooooh, Megan, that is such a good tip. I will totally try that technique next time I’m making a cake!

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Sherry April 9, 2010 at 11:11 am

Very cute cake! I can see the hard work you put into it. I too liked Meaghan’s tips. I have used a knife dipped in hot water and wiped dry each time with quite good results. I did not know the other good ideas she suggested. It is a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing your butter-cream and ideas.

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