Simple Ways to Spruce Up Your Baking Creations

Simple Ways to Spruce Up Your Baking Creations

Once you’ve mastered the basics of baking—chocolate chip cookies, brownies and simple cakes among them—you can take your creations to a whole new level with a few simple decorating tricks. Here are Mother Rucker’s Sweets’ favorite decorating supplies for the home baker.

Frostings and Icings
You’ve probably heard the terms frosting and icing used interchangeably and assumed that they mean the same thing, but there actually is a difference between the two. Frosting is fluffy and soft, while icing is more of a hardened sugary coating. Both are sweet, colorful and used to decorate cakes, cookies and muffins, and both should be in your baking arsenal.

Frostings and icings can easily be colored with food coloring, but don’t overlook white as a striking backdrop for sliced fruit, sugar sprinkles and nuts.

Use a pastry decorating bag to create more intricate designs on cookies and cakes. Even blondie squares or brownies can be enhanced with decorative icing.
Confections and Cakes
Colored Sugar Available in just about every shade imaginable, colored sugar sprinkles make a quick and easy way to add color and crunch to your baked sweets. Sprinkle some over whole cookies and muffins, or use a stencil to make shapes and patterns. Either way, colored sugar works well alone on white cakes and cookies, or on top of brightly colored icing on chocolate items. Nuts, Fruit and Candies Another way to add pizazz to your cakes and muffins is to top them with whipped cream and sprinkle some chopped nuts on top. Sliced strawberries, blueberries or raspberries along with a few mint leaves will make your confections look like they were baked by a pro. Banana Nut Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Ready-made candy hearts, letters and flowers can be found in the baking section of most grocery stores. Use them sparingly for a professional effect—don’t go overboard.

Edible flowers such as nasturtiums and marigolds also make elegant cake decorations. Just make sure that you buy ones intended for consumption, as garden center varieties may have been treated with insecticides.

Once you’ve created a baked sweet that’s as eye-catching as it is delicious, the final step is all in the presentation.

For cakes and cupcakes, a cake stand is a good start. Add a round piece of white or decorated cardboard, known as a cake circle, for the cake to sit on. It’s a small touch, but one that adds simple finesse to the look.

Packaging for cookies and brownies can be as simple as a parchment paper wrapper and a bow, or as polished as paperboard cookie boxes bought online well ahead of your event.

Confections and Cakes

As for serving your creations, always keep whipped cream and some sliced fruit on hand. A piece of cake served on a dessert plate can look rather plain. Garnish it with a spot of whipped cream topped with shaved chocolate and a cherry (on the side, if the cake is frosted). It’s a simple garnish, but it’s effective at making your desserts look like they’ve come straight from a professional bakery.