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05.25.2000

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Pretty up that cake!  | 1 2 3 4 5
continued from page 2

Advanced technique for a multi-layer cake: Slice layers horizontally, using the same method for cutting off the top, and voilŗ! Four layers. This will be harder to ice, though, because the cut sides are so crumby -- it's best to use a soft icing, so you don't have to spread as vigorously. MAKE SURE you mark the sides before you cut, because with so many layers, even a little crookedness will add up to a very crooked cake overall. A dab of icing or a notch work fine for this purpose.

PART II: Icing. The best reason to eat cake.

Step 1) Making the icing
Store-bought icing is very sweet, and there's never quite enough in one can. I personally think it's not very good, either, and certainly no one could successfully argue that it's great. My solution: buttercream. Iím betting that anyone who thinks they donít like icing hasnít had buttercream icing, which is, quite simply, divine. It's less intensely sweet than icing-from-a-can, and richer. It's also very smooth, unlike store-bought icing, which has a gritty texture. Unfortunately, buttercream can't be made totally by hand; youíre going to have to use some kind of machine. (Check out the buttercream recipe).

Step 2) Icing on the cake.
Having made (or bought, if you opted for the easy route) your icing, and assembled your layers, it's time to ice the sides and top.

First, a word about crumbcoat: Various cookbooks have advised to do this to "seal in" the crumbs. What, you might ask? I didnít understand either, until it dawned on me that what they meant was: "Spread on a thin layer of icing that will mix with the crumbs and prevent them from rising to the surface of the second, thicker coat of icing, provided you don't mush the second coat around too much." Which is a good idea, and something I advise you to do. Start with the sides, then move on to the top. I like to form lucious swirls with the icing on both top and sides, but there are certainly other options.

To get smooth sides, use a straight metal spatula, and make one pass around the sides, holding it vertically against the cake. If your spatula is long enough, 9"+, you can smooth the top with a single swipe across the surface. You can also use the back of a long knife. This technique is easiest when there's lots of icing on the cake.

keep going, there more!

 

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