As I have gotten more into this cake baking thing, I have found that there are a lot of products out there to help decorate cakes, many of which are made by Wilton. So far, the Wilton products I do have have been good to me and I like them a lot. However, like the rest of you, I like making the cake from scratch. But this can only be true to an extent. Personally, I am not growing the wheat and milling it for the flour, I don’t grow the cane and extract the sugar, and there are many other things I’m not doing myself, but you guys get the idea here. My question here is about some of the pre-made Wilton products like their decorating icing and their pre-made fondants. How many, if any of you, use these products or have used them when you were in a pinch and did not have the time to make everything you wanted to from scratch? I have also seen Wilton’s food spray for decorating purposes. I’m just curious what you folks think of these products and if you think they are worth using in a pinch (or if you don’t know how to make your own - like the food spray)? On the can for their frosting it states that it is the perfect consistency for piping and decorating so it made me consider the product. I haven’t been able to make a frosting that has the right consistency for piping. Mine always seems to come out too soft and the piping does not hold its form when it reaches room temperature. Quite frankly, my piping looks rather sloppy after a short period of time and that really frustrates me after putting so much time into it. Any suggestions or advice will be appreciated.
In a related question, can this type of flower be piped (with any type of frosting), or would it have to be cut out by hand from a fondant (if it’s even possible)?
I have never used them, and probably wouldn’t—I have only heard really bad things about the taste of Wilton fondant—but, like you said, it is a matter of taste and personal preference. I prefer taste over appearance, not that it is an either or, but I would rather have un-piped cake that tastes wonderful than sacrifice taste for looks—however, there are plenty of cake decorators that don’t share that philosophy.
I think as you get more experience with scratch buttercreams, you will find the piping easier. I think I posted this earlier, but temperature is really key for buttercream consistency. I think you should also try a wider variety before giving up on the idea—for example ganache and cream cheese butter cream pipes beautifully. Just my two cents on the subject!
Speaking of Wilton, here are a few examples similar to the flower you asked about:
Hi, can’t help with the Wilton question but the decision to pipe or make flowers from sugar paste or gum paste really depends on your skill, the result you want and the type of cake the decorations are for.
Here are some links to Dahlia cutters and silicone molds - hope this helps:
I’ve only heard negative things about the flavor of W food products (fondant, frosting, piping gel, canned spray colors). They are designed to be shelf stable for an unreasonably long length of time, which means they are filled with chemical stabilizers and artificial this and that. No thank you.
oops, I use exclusively the food coloring pastes from Wilton, but how many of my cakes need it! =)
I can pipe everything there can be done with piping using Mousseline Buttercream, not counting royal icing work.
Wilton was one of my sponsors for the Waikiki Yacht Club cake, so I can’t say bad things, but can say that for this cake I only used their hidden pillars and separator plates plus 2 drops of their golden yellow food coloring paste for the very top tier.
the Wilton cake decorating school method iis very good, and they do really emphasize on good piping.
MP, I’m with Matthew and Patrincia, I won’t use products that don’t taste good and aren’t made from natural, recognizable ingredients. When faced with a choice, definitely go for taste over looks! The mousseline BC is by far the sturdiest, and you can leave out the liqueur from the piped portion if you want further firmness. Chilling the cake thoroughly before begining to pipe helps the decorations firm up nicely, and Rose recommends occaisionally chilling your hand in a bowl of cold water. You can also pipe flowers onto a tray, chill or freeze, then place on the cake.
When making buttercream, check your thermometer for accuracy and make sure to use all the syrup, scrape out the pan. I forget, was it the classic BC that didn’t hold at room temp? It is a little softer than the mousseline.
You could also try making the dahlias with chocolate petals. Take a look at the chocolate pine cone in TCB and at Hector’s pine cone cakes (his current avatar). Somewhere on the blog is a short cut to making petals that involves melting chocolate chips.
[quote author=“Julie” date=“1233156087"Somewhere on the blog is a short cut to making petals that involves melting chocolate chips. Good Luck!
I believe the trick was to put the chocolate chips on a sheet pan, heat in the oven until they are soft, then drop the sheet pan to the floor so that the chips “splat” into little petal shapes. I think it was a discovery by Dede Wilson; she has authored several baking books.
If you want the flowers to be more realistic, it would be better to make them in gum paste so you can dust the petals with color and curve them.
Wilton structural products (plates, pillars, tubes, bags, spatulas) are good quality; the pans are too light for more than occasional use; I have not tasted Wilton fondant or icing but would suggest based on others’ comments that you don’t use them. The gum paste mix is ok, I keep some on hand in case I ever run out and need to make some. I buy fondant from Bakel’s and Albert Uster, I buy colored fondant when necessary from Satin Ice (the flavor is not as wonderful, but when you are coloring dark fondant, it helps to use precolored stuff to prevent the fondant from becoming slack from all the color you need to use); I buy gum paste from Bakels, Satin Ice and Albert Uster, I don’t have a preference there the way I do with fondant.
Be careful with off-price stuff - the tubes especially. Some may rust if you don’t dry them and then you can’t use them at all. Usually the discount stores (Home Goods, TJ Maxx, etc) have stuff like that occasionally and the price is so good you can’t pass up the bargain…..
I use Wilton food sprays all of the time. They do not have a taste at all as long as you use them lightly. They are great for an airbrush look when you don?t have an airbrush. I prefer satin ice fondant (I knead in a few drops of vanilla). I have never used their canned vanilla or chocolate frosting before, but I have used the red & black icing in a tube when I am in a rush. It taste sweet, but if you are only using a little bit for a design no one will ever know.
Count me in the camp that prefers to make fondant, gum paste and buttercream from scratch. I simply don’t like the taste of manufactured products. If I were making cakes commercially, I might be tempted to save time using these things. But then there is a trade-off: Do you sell cakes that are easier and quicker to manufacture, or that taste good? I prefer taste over looks. But then again, I only bake cakes as a passionate amateur, not as a professional, so I hesitate to judge those who use pre-made products to make a living.
Regarding buttercream, one of the Wilton books gives a recipe for a powdered-sugar buttercream. The good thing about it is that you can control the consistency by adding more powdered sugar if it is too soft. The bad thing is that a lot of people (adults, mainly) don’t like the sweetness of a powdered sugar buttercream. Kids love it, though, and I have done it for my childrens’ birthday cakes when I wasn’t up to making a classic buttercream or a ganache. However, if your cake is for adults, I encourage you to make the a buttercream or a ganache from “The Cake Bible.” The white chocolate cream cheese buttercream (p. 237) is easy to assemble and it pipes very well. The key, as other posters have noted, is to keep the heat of your hands from making it too soft. I stick the pastry bag into the fridge or freezer for a few minutes when that happens.
Regarding the dahlias, you might want to take a look at “Leslie Herbert’s Complete Book of Sugar Flowers.” On p. 30, she gives directions for making chrysanthemums out of sugar paste (recipe is included at the beginning of the book), and the flowers look absolutely amazing. I personally don’t have time to learn this kind of artwork, but I have seen it done on high-end cakes, and it is gorgeous.
Thank you all for the feedback and for the links that some of you have provided as an additional resource to help me. You have confirmed my thoughts on this issue. I will avoid using these products, or use them sparingly if I have to. I should have mentioned that the Wilton products I have been using are their tools, but none of their edible products.
Last night I was watching “Ace of Cakes” and I saw one of the girls at the bakery making dahlias with gum paste. One of the other people there mentioned that making gum paste flowers is difficult but that making the type the girl was making was more difficult than usual. If it’s difficult for a professional, then I’m sure it will be nearly impossible for me to do it. I don’t have the artistic skills or the manual dexterity to make dahlias by hand using gum paste. Plus, I read today that gum paste isn’t all that edible. I want everything on the cakes I make to be edible if possible. What I am trying to make is a cake that looks like a basket of flowers. I want to make a round cake decorated with the basket weave pattern on the side, maybe use gum paste or modeling chocolate to make the handle for the basket, and then have some sort of flower - I wanted dahlias, but I may try to find one that is easier for someone of my skill level to pipe - on the top of my cake so it looks like the basket is filled with flowers. I was looking at the molds that Cate provided the link to (thank you, Cate) and I may still try to use one of those to make dahlias. I will take the advice I have received here and play around with different types of frosting and try to improve my piping techniques. Thanks again for all your help, folks. It is much appreciated!
PS - Jeanne, I saw the cakes you make and they are marvelous! Is there any way you could teach me how to make one of the cakes on your site (if it’s not a top secret method you don’t mind sharing, which I would totally understand if it is a secret)? I can send you a PM with further questions if you think you can help a novice with written instructions.
I have decided that this weekend I am going to try to make my first rolled fondant. I was wondering what you guys thought of Wilton’s ingredient products like their glycerin. Chemically speaking, glycerin is glycerin, so it shouldn’t matter who it’s made by, right? Or are there other ingredients in these product that make one glycerin product better than another. Same question for other ingredients, too, like gum paste and stuff like that. Does it matter who it’s made by?
Also, when it comes to storing the fondant, if I understand the directions in TCB, I leave it in ball form and wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it. Does it need to be frozen, or can it just be refrigerated? If it turns out to be a good fondant, I will use it in a month or so for a cake that I am bringing to work. If not, I will toss it and try again until I get it right. When the time does come to pull it from the freezer, how long before I plan to apply it to the cake should I remove it?