Professional bakers have all the tools and know-how to make a cake beautiful and delicious, but that does not mean a novice is not capable of making amazing cakes as well. There are hundreds of cake recipes to choose from, but a cake needs certain characteristics to be fit for sculpting. Carving cakes need to be dense with few crumbs. Adding a thin layer of buttercream frosting on the cake also helps keep crumbs from becoming a huge problem.
Most cakes can be used for sculpting, though there are a few exceptions. Any cake with filling, unless it is buttercream, is not practical for cake sculpting. Also, cakes that are too moist tend to produce more crumbs or will fall apart easily. Using a dense and simple cake mix is the best way to ensure the cake will not fall apart. Cakes need to be completely cooled before carving, meaning that it should be baked at least six hours before cutting. Most bakers place their cakes into a refrigerator or freezer prior to sculpting.
Pound cake is named as such because "the original pound cakes contained one pound each of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour," according to What's Cooking America. Pound cake is very heavy and dense, making it perfect for sculpting. Traditionally made in rectangle-shaped pans, the batter can be placed in any shaped pan and layered together. Alton Brown from the cooking show "Good Eats" has a highly rated pound cake recipe found on the Food Network website. Another recipe recommended for cake sculpting is found on All Recipes.
"Madeira cake originated in the 19th century where it was more often enjoyed with a glass of sweet Madeira," according to Gourmet Food Revolution. It is a rich sponge cake, usually with lemon flavoring. Because of its simple design, it is very fitting for sculpting needs. This cake can be made ahead of time and kept frozen until the day it is needed. A recipe can be found on Gourmet Food Revolution's website.
Doctoring Box Mixes
Boxed cake mixes are delicious and easy, but tend to be too moist for cake sculpting. The "Cake Mix Doctor," Anne Byrn, details in her book series how to add and subtract ingredients from boxed mixes to modify the recipe to fit your needs. In her book, "Chocolate from the Cake Mix Doctor," she discusses what exactly is in a cake mix that can be altered. To make cakes denser, one or two extra eggs can be added to the mix or the amount of oil asked for can be lessened. Adding flour also makes the cake more firm.
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