The Wilton Method
The Wilton Method of cake decorating is probably the most famous cake decorating style. The Wilton Method uses buttercream icing instead of royal icing for cake decorating. Buttercream icing is very tasty, but tends to be heavier and less refined than royal icing so it’s really not a good frosting to use when decorating in ornate scrollwork patterns or very thin piping like the Lambeth Method and the Australian Method.
There are two things that make the Wilton Method unique in the art of cake decoration. One is the use of buttercream frosting instead of royal icing to decorate the cake. The other is using special pans to change the shape of the cake and then adding icing and decoration to finish the effect.
The use of special cake pans is a truly unique feature of the Wilton Method. Previously, cakes were always the same shapes, either round or square, but the Wilton Method changed the way that cakes were decorated by using specially shaped pans. When the shaped pans were used to create the cake, the cake itself became a major feature of the design and icing and decoration were applied to finish off the design.
Before the Wilton specialty pans were invented, the cake was really a blank canvas on which the cake decorator would create art. But the introduction of the specialty Wilton shaped pans made the cake the focus of the design instead of just the blank canvas.
Also, the use of the Wilton pans meant that truly three dimensional shaped could be achieved to create cakes in shapes that were thought impossible. A great example of the Wilton Method of cake decorating is the Wilton doll cake, where a cake is baked in a large funnel pan with a hole in the center.
A plastic doll torso and head from a craft store is inserted into the hole at the top of the funnel shaped cake and the cake becomes the doll’s skirt. The doll’s dress is made entirely of icing, finishing off the effect. The icing dress forms a cohesive unit of the plastic top of the doll and the edible skirt and the cake is a three dimensional work of art.
The Wilton company not only makes cake pans and a full line of cake decorating accessories; they also sell books and videos that show people how to create amazing cakes using the Wilton method. In addition, classes are taught at craft stores around the world that teach people how to use the Wilton Method to create gorgeous, one of a kind cakes.