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10 Tips for Carving Cakes

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Carving cakes can be fun but also stressful all the same. Knowing what works and what does not can be very helpful. Here are 10 tips that I think you will find very useful when sculpting your next cake. These are based on my experience and tips that I have used myself.

A collage of sculpted cakes.
10 Tips for sculpting Cakes

I have made a fair share of sculpted or carved cakes in my short tenure as a cake decorator. I’ve had my fair share of love and hate for the process. Here are a few cakes I have made recently.

A car shaped cake.Car Cake (81)
A tree house cake.Encanted Tree House Cake (11)
Cindrella Carriage (50)Cindrella Carriage (50)

I will be honest and say that novelty cakes are never my favorite rather stressful. I remember when I just started cake decorating professionally I would get very nervous when a customer would order a sculpted cake. I’d be much happier making a wedding cake loaded with sugar flowers.

But, no matter how stressful these cakes are they are also fun especially when you see the look on people’s faces when they see the cake. The look on your own kids’ faces when they see their birthday cakes. Priceless.

While I have many cake tutorials many of these being sculpted cakes, I realized I have yet to give you a few tips that will help you with sculpting. Truth be told there is no secret formula. Every cake is different. So, today I want to share with you these tips that have helped my me with carving cakes.

10 Tips for carving cakes (pin)

1. Plan the cake

This is very important. Before you bake the cake first ask yourself. What cake am I going to make? Therefore, what cake recipe do I need? And, what filling or frosting do I need? Do I need a template? image of the final cake? perhaps plan the step you are going to use to carve the cake. etc. Planning helps reduce stress.

2. Cake recipe

Use the right cake for the right job. When carving cakes I like to use butter-based cake batters this is because a butter-based cake will firm up in the fridge when chilled giving us fewer crumbs and a better canvas to carve. Here are two of my cake recipes that work perfectly for carving cakes. Chocolate cake perfect for carving and Vanilla cake for carving cakes.

3. Chill the cake

This may not sound as important but chilling the cake is the best thing you can do for yourself when carving a cake. The crumbs are fewer and the cake won’t fall apart. Chilling helps the butter in the cake stay firm which means the knife slices thru easily. NOTE: you can place the cake in the freezer for a quick chill but do not freeze the cake. Carving a frozen cake is a nightmare.

4. Knife for carving cakes

Just like our cake we need to use the right knife for carving cakes. I like using a sharp knife when carving my cakes. I find an 8 to 10-inch long blade is a good size for most cakes. A smaller blade would not cut thru while a bigger would not keep you in control. Having said that, if you are caring a small cake then use a small sharp paring knife. What’s important is that you are in control, not your knife. Now, you don’t have to go buying a new knife just use what you have and make sure it’s sharp.

5. The right filling and frosting for your cake

While I love filling my cakes with wonderful filling such as fruit fillings and curds I highly recommend going the buttercream or ganache route when it comes to carving a cake. Why? fruits and curds have a shorter shelf life and need refrigeration while carving cakes need more counter time.
Personally, ganache is my favorite filling and frosting for a carved cake. Having said that a good butter-based frosting like my velvet American Buttercream, chocolate buttercream, Swiss or Italian buttercream work perfect.

6. Templates

A template is the best thing you can do for yourself when carving a cake. Why?
Well, carving means cutting in all different directions and often it looks like you’ve lost your way. A template helps keep you sane, focused and in control of the design.

7. Size, portions, proportion, and servings

Not every sculpted cake needs to be big enough to feed everyone.
For example, a small car cake will serve only 15 to 20 and that’s ok. If you need more cake either plan that in a design such a sheet cake below the car cake designed as a road or have extra sheet cake for serving.

8. Chill the cake in between steps

This is often the most neglected step but one that really needs to be done more often. Carve the cake, crumb coat it and chill it. Then come back to it and carve some more. While this sounds a waste of time it really is not.

9. Take a break

While this sounds weird to say – it really is very important. Often when we work on a cake long we tend to get so hooked onto the process.
Instead, take a break, let the cake chill. When you go away from the cake and come back you will look at things more clearly. You will now notice things you might have missed or forgotten. You might see places that need a bit more carving or patching up.

10. Stress

Easier said than done but it’s true that if your stress over your cake too much you end up missing or screwing things up. Instead, divert your stress towards planning the cake. If necessary – write notes with step by step so you can follow your path. Make extra templates of different angles so you can use it to ensure you are on the right track.

Share a picture of your work with me by uploading an image here below my image on this board. You can also find a collection of my tutorials and recipes here on Pinterest.

A collage of sculpted cakes.
10 Tips for sculpting Cakes

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  1. Ravi Kumar says:

    Such a nice cake decorating ideas for Halloween cake. Really awesome. Thank you so much. Great

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