Making cake is an expensive hobby. Extremely expensive. There are so many tools, gadgets, colors, dusts, cutters, and do-dads it’s overwhelming. And the more specialty the stuff is, the higher the price tag. If you do this as a profession (or addiction), you are constantly buying buying buygin, and it can get seriously out of control.
Just like anything, there are high priced tools, cutters, veiners, etc. that you can spend thousands on at the cake store. The thing is, some of it is stuff that’s repackaged and marked up or you can just as easily use something cheap in place of that super expensive specialty item. That’s where hacks come in.
A “hack” is repurposing something for something else that it wasn’t designed for. I have a few cake hacks I want to share.
Bubbles in Fondant:
There is no purchased tool that exists and is marketed for popping those pesky fondant air bubbles. A lot of people use straight pins. I don’t. First, straight pins are not marketed as a food product so they aren’t exactly sanitary, they are also dangerous. I actually rolled a straight pin into my fondant once because I was in a hurry, set the pin down on the counter, forgot, set a ball of fondant on top of it, and rolled away. Talk about a close call!
I use hypodermic needles. Yes, the kind you get when you have diabetes. Let’s face it, everyone knows someone with diabetes – ask them for a few of their needles. The needles themselves are tiny, it’s much harder to loose track of them, and they are sterile. They work wonderfully and you can’t see the pin prick on your fondant at all.
The Cheapest Flower Veiners You’ll Ever Use
If you are in to making sugar flowers, you quickly realize that there is not only a special cutter for every single flower; there are also special silicone veiners for them. The cutters are generally pretty spendy, but good veiners are crazy expensive. Certain flowers have certain characteristics, and if you are a true naturalist and want a 100% botanically correct flower, you probably want to spend the money on the veiner. But if you are like me and are perfectly happy to have the flower look 95% botanically correct, you are perfectly happy with short cuts. And boy, do I have one for you.
Dried corn husks. Like what they make tamales in? Some only are a little rippled. Some are a lot. You can flatten them out a bit if you need to. They are marketed as food so they are sanitary and you can buy a crapton for less then a buck. I have an all-purpose silicone veiner that I paid $80 for that is mostly retired in favor of the deep groves and veins that I can get using a dried corn husk.
Another cheap veiner? Viva paper towel. Flowers like magnolias, white orchids, and roses have some texture, but not much. Sure, you can buy silicone veiners, but they are really unnecessary for those of us that just want “close enough”. Just dust a Viva with some cornstarch and press your petal into it. It leaves a very natural surface on the petal and makes them more realistic. The microscopic grooves also help the petal to grab and retain colored dusts.
What about you? What hacks do you use when making cakes?