How to... use the Appliqué Technique on a Cake

Appliqué is a very commonly used technique in cake design and a simple way to add detail to sugarpaste-covered cakes.

By Sarah Joyce from Cake Spa

applique image1a

Appliqué is a very commonly used technique in cake design and a simple way to add detail to sugarpaste-covered cakes. Typically shapes are cut from thinly rolled sugarpaste or modelling paste, which are attached to the iced cake with edible glue. Appliqué can be as simple as using a single cutter to create a design or can be much more intricate with textured and layered effects. This project starts by making appliqué cupcake toppers – a great way to practise a design before decorating a larger cake!

APPLIQUÉ CUPCAKE TOPPERS

I frequently use simple appliqué shapes as the starting point for a cake design, as here with these easy-to-make butterfly cupcake toppers. For a professional appearance, I find that it helps to use modelling paste, as it is firmer than sugarpaste and can be rolled much more thinly. To make modelling paste at home, knead a little gum tragacanth into your sugarpaste and leave overnight to firm up. Gum tragacanth is a natural stabiliser available from most cake decorating suppliers.

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT

  • sugarpaste
  • gum tragacanth
  • food paste colours – caramel/ivory and dark brown
  • non-stick icing mat
  • small non-stick rolling pin
  • 2mm (1/8in) icing spacers
  • 5.5cm (2¼in) circle cutter
  • butterfly cutter
  • edible glue
  • sugarcraft paintbrush
  1 Prepare the modelling paste by kneading 1 tsp gum tragacanth into 250g (9oz) sugarpaste. Wrap in clingfilm and leave for several hours or overnight to become firmer. applique image32 Colour a portion of the modelling paste beige using a little caramel/ivory and dark brown food paste colour. 3 Roll out the beige modelling paste to a thickness of 2mm (1/8in) using icing spacers on a non-stick mat. 4 Cut out the toppers with the circle cutter, then set aside on baking paper to dry. applique image45 Roll out the white modelling paste very thinly so that when lifted you can see your fingers through the paste.     applique image56 Carefully cut out the butterfly appliqués using the cutter. The paste should stay in the cutter, allowing you to turn it over and neaten up any frayed edges (gently rub the rolling pin or your finger over the edges). 7 Turn back over the right way, then gently ease the paste out of the cutter using a paintbrush or small ball tool. applique image68 Dab a little edible glue onto the back of the butterfly with a paintbrush, then place onto the topper. Repeat for the remaining toppers and leave to dry overnight, then add to your cupcakes.  
  TIPS FOR WORKING WITH MODELLING PASTE • Use a good quality non-stick icing mat and rolling pin to roll the modelling paste thinly and evenly. • Work with a small amount of modelling paste at a time and knead well before rolling out. • Wrap any unused modelling paste in cling film and store in an airtight container to keep it pliable and moist. • Lightly dust the mat with a little icing sugar if you find that the paste is sticking to your surface. • Knead in a little white vegetable fat if you find that the paste is too dry or breaks easily.
  FLORAL APPLIQUÉ FEATURE For larger cakes, like the top tier of the two-tier wedding cake, an appliqué feature can really make the effect stand out and is far less time-consuming than covering the entire cake. Here I have used a variety of small blossom appliqués to make a simple heartshaped feature for use on the cake. SPECIAL EQUIPMENT
  • beige and white modelling paste
  • non-stick icing mat
  • small non-stick rolling pin
  • 1mm (1/16in) icing spacers
  • 7.5cm (3in) heart cutter
  • blossom plunger cutters
  • small primrose cutter
  • edible glue
  • sugarcraft paintbrush
  • no. 3 writing nozzle
1 Roll out the beige modelling paste to a thickness of 1mm (1/16in) using icing spacers on a non-stick mat. 2 Roll the white modelling paste very thinly so that when lifted you can see your fingers through the paste. 3 Carefully cut out a variety of different blossom shapes and sizes. Use a piping nozzle size no. 3 to cut small circles from the centres of the primroses. You can also use these tiny circles to add centres to some of the other blossoms. 4 Dab a little edible glue onto the backs of the blossom with a paintbrush, then place onto the beige paste, filling an area roughly the size of the heart cutter. This approach gives a more natural feel to the pattern than if you were to glue the flowers on after cutting out the heart. 5 When complete, cut out the feature with the heart cutter. There will be some flowers outside of the cutting area. Finally, attach your embellishment to the cake with edible glue. applique image7   applique image8  
  TIPS FOR INTRICATE APPLIQUÉ • For very intricate shapes and detail, try using sugar flower paste, which is firmer than modelling paste and will be easier to handle. • Place a thin layer of paste over the sharp edge of the cutter and use a non-stick rolling pin to cut the paste, rather than the usual way of pressing the cutter down into the paste. • Use tiny dabs of edible glue to attach the appliqué and lift delicate pieces with a small paintbrush.
  LACE EFFECT APPLIQUÉ To create the delicate lace effect butterflies on the lower tier, I have used a silicone lace impression mould to texture the modelling paste before cutting out the appliqués. Each piece is then brushed with a shimmering lustre dust to bring out the lace detail before attaching to the cake. It’s a great way to add a touch of luxury to an otherwise straightforward cake, and once you have mastered the technique you can use it to produce professional standard iced biscuits and cakes. SPECIAL EQUIPMENT
  • white modelling paste
  • non-stick icing mat
  • small non-stick rolling pin
  • intricate floral silicone lace mould
  • snowflake edible lustre dust
  • butterfly cutters
  • blossom plunger cutters
  • edible glue
  • sugarcraft paintbrush
  • no. 3 writing nozzle
applique image9   1 Roll the white modelling paste thinly so that when lifted you can see your fingers through the paste.     applique image102 Push the paste fairly firmly into the silicone mould (see the images below for guidance), then carefully lift up to reveal the pattern. You may need to coat the mould in a small amount of white vegetable fat if the paste seems dry or the pattern doesn’t transfer well.     applique image113 Using a sugarcraft paintbrush, dust the patterned paste with edible snowflake lustre dust to bring out the lace detail. This will take to the paste well if done straight away.     applique image124 Cut butterflies and blossom from the lace-effect paste using the different shaped cutters, then attach them to the cake with a dab of edible glue.  

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