So how can we keep making beautiful cakes and keep costs down for yourself and for your client?
Get lean! Eliminate waste!! (Ok so I really can't stop thinking like an engineer:))
Which brings us to the cake board. From my experience clients want to pay for a beautiful cake and not so much a beautiful cake board. This tutorial is all about cake board tips in order to ensure you give your client as much value as you can for their money while at the same time keeping your costs down in order to ensure you can remain profitable in your cake business.
First, when it comes to overall cake presentation, here are the personal preferences I like to stick to when it comes to our Cake Couture custom cakes:
3 Cake Couture Board Rules
1. Keep it simple. While a very detailed board is pretty I think it takes away from the cake itself. Of course there are occasions when a dressed up board is required to get the right look, however, in that situation your the board decor becomes part of the cake rate you provide your client. I am focusing here on the cakes that do not require a decorated board. (Yes these are boar's head cake and lego cake boards are decorated boards:))
2. Keep it narrow. I like to use a board that is 1"-2" wider than the decorated finished edge of the finished cake. The wider you go the more empty the board will look if not decorated and some people actually think the cake starts to look more like a hat!
3. Keep it neutral. I think the cake really stands out when you keep the board white or a similar matching color (at least in the board ribbon). I think shiny cake foils take away from the cake and can make it look too busy. (On the right is the baby shower cake I made for my first little girl... pre-Cake Couture:))
Now on to the eliminating waste part!
We are going to go over 4 different styles of cake boards that we like to use on our Cake Couture custom cakes:
Style 1 - Board with fondant
Style 2 - 2 tier board for buttercream
Style 3 - A 'Mother' board (ok so that's just a really big board!:))
Style 4 - Sheet cake boards
Materials for ANY board style
* Regular cake circles or squares (aka cake pads). You can purchase these individually from your local cake supply shop or in bulk at your local restaurant supply shop (such as Cash & Carry or Restaurant Depo).
* Electrical Tape. Yes, electrical tape. Preferable the Scotch brand or any other brand that sticks real well to itself.
Style 1. Board with fondant
This board is the standard board. The cost savings here is the use of electrical tape rather than board tape made for cakes.
Step 1. Take 3 like cake pads and holding them against you center and position the electrical tape around the board. The electrical tape will not readily want to stick to the cardboard, but be patient, and once you get all the way around it will sit securely once it sticks to itself.
Step 3. Roll out and cover your board with your preferred fondant. I like to use marshmallow fondant (yes I will eventually put my recipe up:)). Smooth your fondant once on the board. Cut the edge with a knife and smooth the rough sides with a fondant smoother.
Let your board dry overnight (6-8 hours) and you are done!
Style 2. Two tier board for Buttercream
I love this technique. Some of the biggest decorating challenges are getting a super smooth buttercream cake. The board technique will help you do that and save you time which also means money (since time = money:)!). Also, you will not have to worry about making a special fondant or other covered board for this technique. This is ONLY when you are make the following:
* 6" & 8" two tier (or just a 8" one tier) use a 9" cake board
* 6" & 9" two tier (or just a 9" one tier) use a 10" cake board
Step 1. Using 4 cake pads prepare your base cake board (the 9" or the 10") with electrical tape. Use electrical tape to wrap around the bottom 3 boards and use another round of electrical tape to wrap around the fourth cake pad securing it to the bottom 3.
Step 2. Place electrical tape around the top rim of this base cake board. This step eliminates the need to have any other cover on your board and keeps your cardboard from getting oily. It will have little folds but flatten them out with any straight edge and it will be nice and smooth.
Step 3. Take your tier cake boards and individually wrap the edge with electrical tape.
Step 4. Position your cake tiers on their individual cake boards and crumb coat.
Step 5. Using glue position your bottom tier on your base board to start your final coat (you will see that only a nice white edge and boarder peeks through). Start your final coat on the top tier separately on your turntable. You will see that using the electrical tape gives you a smooth edge to lean on for your scraper/smoother and again only white peeks through. For final smoothing I like to use the paper towel method (use VIVA paper towels - non print side - and with a fondant smoother gently smooth).
Step 6. Stack your top tier appropriately and pipe your edges. So smooth so clean you will LOVE the finish!! Trim your board with a pretty ribbon:).
Style 3: Mother boards (really big boards:))
When you are making large fondant cakes 12", 14", etc. and you want to get a nice fondant look but hate the thought of using so much expensive fondant that doesn't even get seen and ends up getting thrown away here is what we like to do. This technique saves you on using expensive material but doesn't save on a lot of time since the preparing takes some getting used to.
Step 1. Prepare your very large cake boards using the standard method of Style 1.
Step 2. Take a cake board smaller than the actual cake tier that will go on top of it, center and glue it on.
Step 3. This is the tricky part. Roll out a long strip of fondant (preferable measure it) even in thickness and with enough width to cover the gap between the glued center board and the larger board. Trim one side of the long strip. Cover the board gap with your fondant sticking material (I use shortening). Take the trimmed edge and position it around the center board. Trim where the fondant strip meets.
Step 4. Smooth with your fondant smoother trim the edge, smooth edge, and let your board dry overnight (6-8 hours).
Step 5. Using glue on the center board, position and place your prepared (and already to decorate) fondant covered cake on top of your large board. You are done and you have the look of a fondant covered board without the waste of fondant!
Style 4. Sheet Cake Boards
I like to always have half sheet cake boards on hand. With a half sheet cake board either a quarter sheet, half sheet cake, double half sheet, or even a sculpted cake fits nicely. You also only have to worry about buying and storing half sheet cake boxes. Standardize your supplies to get the most of your inventory. So when it comes to the basic half sheet cake boards they are regular cardboard material and I DO NOT like the look of greasy cake boards! You can purchase the gold style the supermarkets like to use that do not absorb the buttercream grease, however, at Cake Couture we are not fans of gold or anything shiny as a board for your cake (takes away from the cake). And I have never been crazy about the scalloped edges either!:) So I stick to my half sheet cake boards and cover them in... cabinet liner!!! You can also use this technique on different boards to incorporate colors by using colored paper and covering it with clear cabinet liner.
Step 1. Select board and preferred cabinet liner.
Step 2. Glue or tape paper to board (optional).
Step 3. Apply cabinet liner and smooth out air bubbles with a scrapper.
And you are done! Yes it is that simple!!:)
Happy cake making cakers!!