Do you cover your Cake Board? When you look at someone else’s cake and marvel at how professional and perfect it looks, how many times do you see it sat on a silver, uncovered board? Not often, I bet!
Covering a cake board is quick, easy and an essential finishing touch to make your cake look professional. No matter whether your cake will be naked, buttercream, ganache or fondant finished, a covered cake board will not only give your cake that finishing flourish, but it can also add to the design and overall look of your creation.
Basically it’s all about completing your design. A good design should draw your eyes to the highlights and parts of the cake you have spent longest over and want to show off, whilst everything else disappears from attention. So, if you have spent the time and effort designing a beautiful cake, why ruin it by allowing the silver board it’s sitting on to be the first thing someone sees?
You can even include your board in your design….make it part of the cake. It’s an opportunity to expand and compliment your design. And while we’re at it, its great to finish everything with a coordinating ribbon for that final finishing touch.
So, here’s a few essentials you need to know:
Cake boards come in 3 thicknesses, the thinnest is a ‘cut card’. These will either be covered in silver foil or be coated in a non-stick, but food safe coating. These are used by professionals between tiers, if the tiers aren’t too heavy or under a cake that will eventually be transferred to a Cake Drum. It’s the cheapest but weakest board and allows a cake to be handled and moved around with little mess.
The next is the 3mm card. These are usually thick card coated in a food safe silver foil. If you buy your boards from a supermarket, this is usually what you get. Most professionals will use this thickness between tiers of larger cakes.
Lastly, there is the Cake Drum. These are made from layers of card or wood pulp and again are covered in food safe foil. They are thicker, between 10-12mm and are what a professional would always finish their cakes with. Whilst the other thicknesses are used the same size as the cake, so they can’t be seen, the drum is always bigger than the cake and is the one I’m talking about covering.
What does ‘Covering’ mean?
Professionals will always put a cake on a Cake Drum. It will always be bigger than the cake, so the cake can be picked up and moved without the fear of damaging the actual cake. It’s the drum that we want to ‘cover’.
When I say cover, I mean putting layer of fondant on it. Sometimes with a buttercream cake you may wish to spread a layer of buttercream on, and the same with ganache. However, I favour fondant as, its smoother and neater.
How to Cover your Board
There are several ways to cover a Cake Board, but this is a ‘one size fits all’ method. You can use it as the basis for any design both on the cake and the board.
First clean your board with alcohol, I usually use vodka on a bit of kitchen tissue to do this. Although boards are covered in food safe foil, you don’t know where they’ve been stored before you bought them. They may have been dropped on the floor, stored on the bottom shelves where dust gets kicked up, or even stored on dirty shelves. Just giving them a quick wipe with alcohol with get rid on any germs.
Most people never eat the fondant on the board, because most people don’t like fondant. But don’t rely on that. There is often that one person the loves fondant and will pick every bit off, so make sure your board is clean!
Then using either cooled boiled water or more vodka, put a very fine layer of water on the board – again I do this with kitchen towel. This is what the fondant will stick too.
Roll out the fondant to about 2-3mm thick.
Lay the fondant over the board and using a smoothing tool, go over the fondant to ensure there are no pockets of air underneath.
Using a sharp knife, held flat against the edge of the board, cut away any excess fondant.
Then cut a hole on top where the cake will sit. Make sure the hole is at least 1” smaller than the cake. I do this for 2 reasons, firstly it would be a waste of fondant and secondly it allows you to stick the cake directly to the board.
Lastly, finish the edge of your board with a colour coordinated ribbon stuck on with a glue stick.
Tips and Tricks
If you have time, cover your board at least a day ahead. This will allow it to dry hard, making it easier to work with without damage. If you don’t remember and must do it at the same time as the cake, before putting the ribbon on, just pop the board in the oven for 10 minutes on the lowest setting. When you first remove it from the oven the fondant with be super soft, so be careful. As it cools it will become hard.
To give the edge of your board an extra smooth finish, use the smoothing tool at the 45 degree angle to bevel the very edge.
Put sticky rubber feet on the underside. Boards can be tricky to pick up once there is a heavy cake on top. 3 or 4 well placed feet will make it easier to get your fingers underneath.
With Birthday and Celebration Cakes, including your board into the design can add a whole new dimension to your cake. Why should your design finish as soon as the cake hits the board?
Sometimes there just isn’t enough room for words that are needed on a cake – put them on the board.
Maybe you have a beautiful cascade of flowers, let them flow across the board for a more spectacular look.
Maybe your cake is a colour, make the board the same colour to extend the look. Add extra details, such as a road running around a car themed cake, flowers and grass on a gardening theme cake etc.
Do you have several toppers and elements that need to go on your cake? Rather than cramming everything on the top and making it look cluttered and the details get lost, put some of them on the board to allow everything to have the room to get the attention it deserves.
Make the board textured or imprinted to compliment your design – wood effects, brickwork, knitting and fabrics are all things I’ve used in the past to finish a design.
Once you start to include your board in your design, there really will be no stopping you.