Cake Boss Buddy Valastro shows us how to decorate with authority.
Known for his over-the-top edible masterpieces such as a 1-ton Transformers cake, TLC's Cake Bossstar Buddy Valastro is a whiz with a whisk. The Hoboken, New Jersey, native's bubbly personality and sugar high-inducing skills have helped his Carlo's Bakery shop grow to 11 locations in five states. "What sets cakes apart [is] how you bring that detail out," says Valastro. "Some ways are so simple that anybody can do it, and then there are more complex ways." Valastro, who makes his Cleveland debut at the Fabulous Food Show Nov. 13-15, explains how to frost like a boss.
Even if your baking skills max out at boxed cake and canned icing, take a chance on fondant, which has the consistency of modeling clay. Level the top of the cake by slicing off any puffiness that might resemble a muffin. Cover in a layer of icing as you normally would, then simply roll the fondant — it should be no more than a 1/4-inch thick — and drape it over the cake top and sides like a blanket. "It's a balancing act of pulling it down the cake and pushing it on," he says. "The best way to do it is like making a bed, the way you put the sheets on and tuck them in."
Turn up the heat on your decorating skills with Valastro's easy grill-top design. "It's so simple," he says, "but even someone who's more experienced is going to think that's cute." Start with a fondant-iced cake, then roll out thin snakes of fondant and set across the cake top like a grill. Using the fondant in the way you would a hunk of clay, form a miniature hot dog, steak or chicken leg. "You can take a knitting needle to make grill marks, then just paint them on with a little black food coloring," he says.
Ready for challenging-yet-tasty buttercream? Start by spreading a base layer and then refrigerate your cake for at least two hours before applying a final coat. The key, says Valastro, is having pliable frosting. "You have to rewhip it all the time," he says. "It takes an extra 15 or 20 minutes, and people are lazy. But the extra step puts you above the rest." Once your frosting is ready, fill a piping bag fitted with a large tip. Use a turntable to spin the cake, pipe icing in a tight spiral. "Then just glide a knife over it to smooth it out," he says.