Brush embroidery is a cake decorating technique that involves piping a line of either royal icing, butter cream or piping gel and pulling the piped line with a paintbrush to create the look of embroidery. This is a cake design which incorporates appliques – a technique more commonly done by rolling out fondant thinly, embossing it with lace and cutting it into shapes to apply to the cake before adding the brush embroidery detail. Here, I’ve taken this same traditional technique and used icing sheets instead, which retain their shape when lifted. To mimic the detail ordinarily created by the lace, the icing sheets are embossed with a plastic embossing folder.
To recreate this design, you will need:
- Luster dust
- Large brush or brush that holds luster dust (shown)
- Cake covered in white fondant
- Pink luster icing sheets
- Royal icing
- Pastry bag fitted with decorating tip #2
- Sweet Accents machine
- 2 smallest die cutters from the Blossoms Three set
- Dainty dots embossing folder
- Crisco or other vegetable shortening
- Piping gel
Begin by dusting the surface of the cake with luster dust. (This will give it a nice iridescent sheen).
Place a pink luster icing sheet inside the embossing folder. Place the embossing folder between the base plate and the embossing plate that come with the Sweet Accents machine. Place the sandwiched plates through the machine.
Remove the embossed icing sheet from the embossing folder. Place the embossed icing sheet directly on the base plate with the plastic backing face down.
- Lay the cutting edges of the die cutters on top of the icing sheet. Cover them with the cutting plate that comes with the machine. Run the sandwich through the machine again. Repeat to cut as many flower shapes as you want to cover the cake.
Turn the cut flowers over and brush them lightly with the shortening. Place them where desired on the cake and rub them with your finger to adhere them to the fondant.
- Take about 1 cup of the royal icing and mix in 1 teaspoon of piping gel. (The piping gel gives you more time to work with the royal icing before it hardens up). Fill the pastry bag fitted with the cake decorating tip.
Pipe around the edge of the flower, but do small sections at a time, using the paintbrush in between. Once a section of the line is piped, dip the end of the paintbrush in water, shake the excess water off it and place the end of the brush into the icing. You will pull the line gently towards the center of the flower. The brush strokes will continue around the line to make the whole outline of the flower. Repeat this process for all the flower cut-outs on the cake.
Pipe small dots in the center of the flowers by holding the pastry bag at a 90 degree angle to the cake. Release pressure on the piping bag before lifting the bag away to prevent a point from developing on the end of the dot. (If you get points, you can push them down with your paintbrush).
The rest of the piping is done directly on the cake to pull the design together. Pipe random curvy lines from the flowers to represent stems.
- Pipe the outline of a leaf and then use the same brush embroidery technique, pulling the outline towards the center of the leaf. When done, pipe a line down the center to make them look like leaves.
- Random small dots are piped where there is open space on the cake, just to play off the dots in the center of the flowers.
If you decide you want to add more shimmer to this look, you can take some of the luster dust, mix it with a small amount of vodka and paint it on all the brush embroidery when it’s dry.
This technique gives you the same look you’d get working with fondant, but the decorating process is much faster. You don’t have to worry about kneading fondant, having it dry out or stretching it out of shape.
About the Author
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Theresa Happe is a cake decorator and author of Cake Decorating Corner from Long Island, NY. You can follow her on Google+.