If you want to be a great cake decorator, in addition to knowing how to decorate the cake, you need to know how to bake a great cake. The cake is your canvass, and the better quality your canvass is the better your art will be. While some cake decorators use mixes in order to get a good cake to start with, lots of professional bakers and Sugarcrafters swear that in order to get the best cake you need to bake it yourself, from scratch.
Baking a cake used to be very hard work, which is why cakes and cake bakers and decorators were prized members of noble families; the royal courts of Europe. Before things like temperature controlled ovens, mixing machines, and cake pans, baking a cake was serious business, and since the ingredients used in cakes were often rare in European households, mistakes were costly.
Cake has been around in one form or another for thousands of years, but once modern equipment came along and it was easier to bake cakes, the types of materials used to bake cakes changed too. These days, so many people have a wide variety of food allergies, sensitivities, and dietary restrictions that coming up with alternative cake ingredients has become quite a large business.
No matter what the actual ingredients are, all cakes have the same basic components:
Flour – this can be one of several different kinds but nearly all cakes have flour.
Sweetener – most often this is sugar, but there are also sweeteners made from sugar substitutes or even fruit juice.
A binding agent – usually, eggs are used in cakes as a binding agent, but for people who don’t eat eggs or can’t eat eggs, there are binding agent substitutes that have the same consistency as eggs. Like Ener G foods egg replacer to name but one.
Fats – are essential in cake, although for people who follow a low fat diet, substitutes have come along in the last few decades to accomplish the same purpose, but do not contain any actual fat. Fats commonly used are butter, shortening, and sometimes fruit puree for those who can’t have fat or dairy products.
Liquid – some type of liquid is needed to make the cake batter. Usually this is water or milk, although sometimes fruit juice is used to add to the taste of the cake.
Leavening agent – Not all cakes have a leavening agent like yeast or baking powder, but many do. In the past, when non dairy cakes were common, people didn’t use leaveners but relied on air bubbles to make the cake rise.