Every other week, Anna Hezel talks about the innovations, decorations, and other quiet touches that make a party memorable.
Today: A simple trick for decorating a cake in a hurry.
As partial as I am to layer cakes, sometimes I need a simple, low-maintenance cake to bring to a party or to serve at a brunch with a bowl of fresh berries. And sometimes a light dusting of powdered sugar is all the decoration a cake needs.
As a kid, I remember taking a trick from Martha Stewart and laying a doily over the surface of a cake to use as a stencil for the powdered sugar. I was blown away, seeing that such minimal effort could yield such an intricate design.
This past weekend, I found myself looking for something easy but celebratory to bring to a few parties. I needed something that would be a breeze to make and that would still look pretty after an hour on the subway. The answer was a few olive oil cakes and a few flourless chocolate cakes. Using parchment paper rounds cut to the sizes of my cake pans, I had made my own customized powdered sugar stencils by the time the cakes came out of the oven.
- Parchment paper
- Powdered sugar
- A cake, cooled to room temperature
Use your cake pan to trace a circle onto a sheet of parchment paper, and cut the circle out. Fold it in half four times, so that you have a pointy little triangle.
Cut a series of evenly-spaced diamonds out of the creased side of the triangle, getting gradually larger as you move away from the center. Or, try cutting one deep sliver out of center fold, to create a starburst shape.
Unfold the parchment paper, and trim any holes that are uneven.
Lay the stencil gently on top of your cake. If the stencil has a hard time laying flat, you can spray it with a light spritz of water to help it adhere to the cake.
Sift the powdered sugar over the top of the stencil until you see that it has filled all of the holes in the stencil. Very slowly and carefully pull the stencil away from the cake, lifting from two sides at once.
Makes a 9-inch round cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 cup whole milk
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tablespoon grated orange zest
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
- Heat the oven to 350° F. Oil, butter, or spray a 9-inch cake pan that is at least 2 inches deep with cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper. (If your cake pan is less than 2 inches deep, divide between 2 pans and start checking for doneness at 30 minutes.)
- In a bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and powder. In another bowl, whisk the olive oil, milk, eggs, orange zest and juice and Grand Marnier. Add the dry ingredients; whisk until just combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, until the top is golden and a cake tester comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and let cool for 30 minutes.
- Run a knife around the edge of the pan, invert the cake onto the rack and let cool completely, 2 hours.
Photos by Anna Hezel
This article originally appeared on Food52.com: How to Make Your Own Cake Stencils