I have loved seeing a trend emerging for bright, watercolour inspired cake designs. This is something I first played with last April for my Mother’s birthday (family birthdays and celebrations are the perfect excuse to try out new techniques!). A modern cake airbrushing kit will come with a small compressor, powerful enough to pack quite a punch, an airbrush gun, and often a selection of colours to get you started. I regularly use my own airbrush when I have to create a cake with dark or very vibrantly coloured sugarpaste – rather than colour up the sugarpaste itself or buy pre-coloured, I simply cover my cake in white sugarpaste and airbrush to the shade I need. This way, all but the very top thin layer of icing is still white and there is no risk of getting that ‘food colouring’ taste. Top tip to you from me. The colour scheme that I have chosen is inspired by Monet’s Classic Water Lillies, which were the inspiration for my original cake. I am no airbrush artist but love how easy it is to make really striking designs with minimal experience. Just point and shoot, my darlings! You will need:
- 20cm (8in) cake mounted on a 20cm (8in) cake board, covered in white sugarpaste
- 25cm (10in) cake drum, covered in white sugarpaste
- royal icing
- airbrush and compressor (my kit is from Squires Kitchen RRP £150)
- piping bag fitted with a medium open-star nozzle (I have used Wilton #32)
- airbrush colours (pop pink, sea green, and electric blue from Squire’s Kitchen)
- stamp-a-Cake tray
- stamp holder and black ink
- stamp-a-Cake flower set
- pastel coloured wafer paper
- pink satin ribbon
Step 1 - Covering the cake:
- Begin by covering your cake and cake drum in a smooth layer of white sugarpaste. Allow both to dry overnight.
- Prepare your royal icing – you can make your own, use a packet mix, or ready-made from a tub, whichever you are most comfortable working with. Use a small blob of royal icing to secure your cake to the covered cake drum.
- Fit a disposable piping bag with a medium open-star nozzle and fill with 2-3 dessert spoonfuls of royal icing. Use this to pipe a simple shell border around the bottom of your cake. To pipe shells, hold the piping nozzle a few millimetres from the surface of the cake and squeeze gently until you are happy with the size of the shell that has come out. Stop squeezing and pull the nozzle to the right (if you are right-handed!), creating a small tail. Repeat this process, piping your next shell over the tail of the one before. It is this that creates a seemingly continuous shell border.
- Allow the royal iced trim to dry for atleast an hour.
Step 2 - Decorating the cake
- Wrap a length of double-sided tape around the edge of the cake drum, leaving the protective strip on. This will keep the edge of the drum clean, ready to adhere a ribbon later.
- Prepare your workspace for airbrushing by covering any worksurfaces and ensure that you have a jug of warm water and some kitchen roll to hand in case of any mess.
- I have chosen to work with electric blue, sea green, and pop pink airbrush colours to create my homage to Water Lillies. With differing intensities of airbrushing, these three colours will become several more colours on my cake.
- Place your cake on a turntable and load your airbrush with blue. Use your airbrush to spray haphazard strokes around the surfaces of your cake until the colour runs out. Without rinsing out the airbrush barrel, fill with green and repeat the same process, building up a pattern of colours all over your cake. Don’t forget to get colour all over the royal iced shell border and covered cake drum.
- Once the cake has been mostly covered in blue and green, change to pink airbrush colour and add patches of pink to break up the watery colours. Again, remember to touch upon the royal iced shell border a few times. Allow to dry for an hour before moving on.
Step 3 - The final touches
- Prepare your Stamp-a-Cake station with a small amount of black ink (specially designed for use with these stamps) in a plastic tray. Fit a foam roller to the roller handle and roll back and forth in the plastic tray to load with colour.
- I have chosen a stamp from the flowers set, adhered to the stamp holder. These are super easy to use – you simply peel the stamp that you want to use from the packaging and lay it on the stamp holder, making sure that the raised detail side is the exposed side. Roll the colour-laden roller over the stamp a few times to transfer an even coating of colour and you are ready to go.
- To stamp around the sides of a round cake, you will need to almost roll the stamp around the surface of the cake. Because I am right-handed, I start by pressing the right-edge of the stamp against the cake and roll slowly through the centre to the left-side. Once the whole stamp has touched the cake, lift the stamp holder away carefully. Stamping is not an exact science and therein lies its charm. I have a million ways that I can get a design perfectly onto a cake – stamping is not one of them. I love how organically the design comes out with the smallest variation in technique resulting in different finishes.
- To crown the cake, I have used my same flower stamp on some pastel pink and pastel green wafer paper. Stamp the design onto the paper and allow to dry for an hour before cutting around the shapes. Adhere these 2D designs to the top edge and top of your cake in a haphazard halo of colour.
- Remove the protective strip from the tape around your cake drum and trim with a pale pink satin ribbon. Serve with champagne. Always.