Decorator's Icing - Ruffle Cake

There are three consistencies to icing: loose, medium, and stiff. 

Depending on the use, ambient factors, and piping tip you'll need to be able to work one batch of icing to be either of the three consistencies.

A rule of thumb is that you'll want to:
-cover your cake with medium
-pipe borders/flowers/big details with stiff
-and script (small piping tips) should use loose

Traditional decorating icing is made with all shortening, and tastes almost as bad as fondant. But there's no denying that in order to pipe you need an icing that will hold. Here's my mom's tried and true recipe:

Birthday Cake Icing
Makes enough to ice and decorate 1+ cakes
1 cup Crisco vegetable shortening (original)
1 cup butter (room temperature)
pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 lbs. powdered sugar (reserving a little to your taste)
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons water

To make icing: (as prepared is medium)
Cream together butter and Crisco in a stand mixer. Add pinch of salt. Add vanilla. Slowly add a little powder sugar, giving the mixer time to incorporate the sugar. Once all the sugar is added, add milk and water.

To make stiff: Do not add the 2 tablespoons water

To make loose: Start by adding one more tablespoon milk

Last night was my little's 21st birthday!! To celebrate I made her a traditional birthday cake. Since this is my finals week at Georgia Tech (guess I'm still procrastinating), I needed to whip out a quick cake and decided to give the ruffle cake a go. So easy, and so fast.

Sorry, no flash 

To start I baked and cooled one vanilla cake and prepared a batch of stiff birthday cake icing (using 2 tablespoons of liquid, not 4).

I put on a crumb coat. Chilled it. Then prepared my piping bag using Wilton tip #104.

To pipe the sides: point the narrow end toward you and apply pressure while rocking your wrist back-and-forth to create the folded vertical columns.

Use stiff to make sure the ruffles hold
To pipe the top: Start at the edge and pipe the perimeter of the cake using the same rocking motion. Each time you finish a circle, move inward and pipe the next until you've completed the top. It helps to have a decorators tray (one that spins), but I don't. So I did the best I could to keep a constant turning pace with my left hand.


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