Posts Tagged ‘cake decorating’

Sugar-Free Celebration Cake Ideas

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Natural sugars and sweeteners.

This information is not about healthy eating. This is for people who want to cut or reduce sugar from their diet but still want to enjoy celebrations with everyone else or have a special treat now and again. Some people have been able to embrace a sugar free diet and adapt their life easily. Other people find it a bit of a struggle. Everyone wants something sweet to eat now and again. These recipes are not meant for everyday eating!

Some people prefer to use natural sugars instead of sucrose in their cooking. Natural sugars are still sugar! Your body use them in the same way and they still rot your teeth if eaten too much.

Honey, agave syrup, coconut sugar, date syrup and sweeteners made from fruit such as Sweet Freedom are all natural sugars which work well in baking recipes. Maple syrup is not very sweet when combined with other ingredients so you may use more than intended to sweeten a dish.

Some recipes call for concentrated fruit juice in place of sugar. I think this is expensive, can be difficult to find and I think one of the other natural sugars I have mentioned can be used just as successfully!

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I have been using Sweet Freedom sweeteners for baking and find they work really well in many recipes including sponges – the texture may be slightly different in some recipes.

I have also been working with 2 natural sweeteners called xylitol and erythritol. These come in a granular form which looks identical to sugar and can be found in supermarkets and whole food stores. Sugar can be substituted like for like with xylitol or erythritol in many baking recipes. You may find that you can use less!

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In the UK erythritol can be found as Sukrin. This is a sugar alcohol with 0 calories. Read more about it here.

More information about xylitol can be found here. Xylitol is sold in most supermarkets in the UK as Total Sweet.  Some of the recipes require the xylitol to be finely ground. A high speed blender is the best tool for this, if you can beg, borrow or steal a Thermomix, this would be perfect!

Eating too much xylitol or erythritol can give you a stomach upset! Please read information about it to check it is right for you.

If you are cutting sugar from your diet, you can gradually reduce the amount of sugar or natural sweetener in a recipe as your taste buds become accustomed to less sugar. Baking recipes can work with up to a third less sugar.

I have put together some useful sugar-free recipes for making celebration cakes.

Sugar-free celebration cake ideas

When making sugar-free celebration cakes, you could make the filling sugar-free and decorate this with normal fondant and take this off before eating the sponge.

Use a thinner layer of jam, buttercream, marzipan and fondant icing on your sugar-free cakes.

Chocolate ganache is simply melted chocolate mixed with heated double cream. Sugar-free chocolate can be used for this recipe. Chocolate ganache is amazingly versatile – while still warm it can be used as a sauce or poured over cakes, desserts and chocolates and left to set. When cold it can be used in desserts or used to fill, cover and decorate cakes. It can be used as a filling for chocolates – it can be flavoured, piped or moulded into shapes. Chocolate ganache recipe.

Many people keep the decoration from their cake as a keepsake. Sugar is often used for the decorations and can last for years. If you do not want to use sugar, there are non-toxic modelling clays available – porcelain modelling clay and Artista soft are two. Some modelling clays may not be able to sit directly on your cake. Artista soft will need to sit on a card or piece of rice paper.

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Croquembouche – dip the choux buns in sugar-free chocolate before stacking.

I love this one found on www.blumenthalphotography.com.au

 

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Naked cakes have been really popular in the last couple of years. Substitute the sugar for xylitol in the sponge and buttercream.

This cake is from www.cakeandlaceweddings.co.uk

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Cakes covered with sugar-free chocolate ganache. Cover the cakes with a thin layer of sugar-free marzipan to give a smooth finish before pouring over the chocolate ganache. This is one of my cakes found in my book – Gluten-, Nut-, Egg- & Dairy-free Celebration Cakes.

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Buttercream cakes have also been popular in the last few years. Some amazing designs can be found at www.queenofheartscouturecakes.com  They also have a great book called The Contemporary Buttercream Bible.
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I really like this as a sugar-free cake idea. www.nouveauraw.com

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A homemade sugar-free Easter egg would make a really thoughtful present. Find out how to make this at www.bbcgoodfood.com

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Sugar-free, Egg-free Marzipan

Friday, August 14th, 2015

For more information about sugar-free celebration cakes, please visit sugar-free celebration cakes.

Try marzipan as an alternative to fondant icing or buttercream to cover and decorate a celebration cake.

If you make your own marzipan, you could substitute the sugar in the recipe for xylitol or erythritol to make it sugar-free.

Why not use a layer of marzipan between the layers of a cake instead of buttercream.

400g ground almonds
400g powdered xylitol or SukrinMelis
40ml glycerine
20ml lemon juice
almond extract, to taste
40ml cooled boiled water

Mix the ground almonds with the powdered xylitol.

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Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together.

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Knead together and place in an airtight freezer bag until required.

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This marzipan will not mould round shapes. To cover a cake – roll out the marzipan dusting the worktop with powdered xylitol as you go. Cut a piece slightly larger than the top. Lay on top and smooth over.

Cut strips and stick to the sides of the cake. Smooth the joins to blend together.

vegan cherry cake

 

Why not try this recipe using other nuts for a different flavour!

A quick and simple marzipan recipe using unrefined sugar.

400g ground almonds
400g agave syrup
almond extract, to taste

Mix the ingredients together in a large saucepan.
Place on a low heat and stir together until it forms a smooth shiny dough.

Agave syrup can be added to sugar-free chocolate to make a modelling chocolate too.

Sugar-free buttercream

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

For information about sugar-free celebration cakes or sweeteners, please visit Sugar-free celebration cakes.

cooconut cakke

 

For buttercream cake ideas, have a look at – The Contemporary Buttercream Bible by the lovely ladies at Queen Of Hearts Couture Cakes. Website.

Swiss meringue buttercream is smooth and light. It contains less fat and sugar than usual buttercream so is a little healthier too!

2 x 5g sachets pasteurised free range egg powder
200g xylitol or erythritol
250g unsalted butter, at room temperature

In a large heatproof bowl, whisk the powdered egg white with 2 tablespoons of cooled, boiled water. Add another 2 tablespoons cooled, boiled water and whisk to dissolve. Mix in the xylitol.

Place the bowl over a saucepan of boiling water – ensure the water does not touch the bowl. Turn off the heat.

Stir to dissolve the xylitol. Test with your finger tips.

Once dissolved (You may need to return the water to a simmer) using an electric whisk, whisk until stiff peaks have formed. Continue whisking until the meringue has cooled.

Break off small pieces of butter and whisk into the meringue. It may split but continue whisking and it will come back together. Use as required.

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If you prefer an egg-free buttercream, try this:-

Sugar-free buttercream to fill and coat an 8 inch cake.

250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
375g powdered xylitol or SukrinMelis
Flavouring

Sieve the powdered xylitol into a mixer bowl. Stir in the powdered xylitol and flavouring and beat until white and fluffy. Use more sparingly than your usual buttercream.

Dairy-free, sugar-free buttercream.

200g dairy-free margarine
400g powdered xylitol or erythritol
flavouring

Mix the ingredients together and leave for a day. Some liquid will leak out of the buttercream. Pour this from the bowl and use the buttercream as needed. Use more sparingly than your usual buttercream.

 

Sugar-free Royal Icing

Friday, August 7th, 2015

Yes that’s right you can make sugar-free royal icing!

sugar-free royal icing

This recipe works just by replacing icing sugar with powdered xylitol or SukrinMelis.

For information about sugar-free celebration cakes or sweeteners, please visit Sugar-free celebration cakes.

I recommend using pasteurised egg white for this recipe.

Use the royal icing straight after mixing. It will pipe as well as usual royal icing but it will take longer to set and will not set as hard. It will crust over but will be quite soft underneath. It is quite fragile.

For a fondant icing recipe, see here.

Recipe

2 x 5g sachets free range egg white powder
4 tablespoons cooled, boiled water
330g powdered xylitol or erythritol

Place the egg white powder into a large mixer bowl with 2 tablespoons cooled, boiled water and whisk together. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons water and whisk to dissolve the powdered egg white.

Sieve the powdered xylitol into a bowl and mix into the egg white ensuring not to leave any powdered sugar on the sides of the bowl.

Beat together until the icing forms thick peaks. When you lift the beater, the icing should stay stiff. Place a wet clean tea towel over the bowl to prevent the icing drying. Use as needed.

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If the powdered xylitol is quite grainy, it may not push through certain piping nozzles. You could try passing it through a clean, unused nylon stocking into your piping bag.

 

Sugar-free Marshmallow Fondant (Ready to roll) Icing

Friday, August 7th, 2015

Yes sugar-free fondant icing!

birthday cake

For information about sugar-free celebration cakes or sweeteners, please visit Sugar-free celebration cakes.

This recipe does work out quite expensive. You could make a sugar-free cake and cover it with normal fondant icing and peel this off before eating but if you really want to eat the icing then try this.

I have found shop bought marshmallows give a better result for this icing. Homemade marshmallow does not stretch as much and can crumble. I find Sainsburys sugar-free marshmallows work really well.

For a vegetarian or vegan icing, I can’t find sugar-free vegetarian marshmallows so I use Freedom Mallows and add SukrinMelis or xylitol to this for a low-sugar icing.

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 Recipe – To cover an 8 inch cake and board.

450g sugar free marshmallows
900g powdered xylitol or SukrinMelis
A few drops of vanilla (optional)

Place the xylitol into a food processor and blitz until powdered.

Sieve the xylitol into a large mixing bowl. A food mixer would be ideal.

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Place the marshmallows into a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of water. Ensure the water does not touch the bowl.

melted marshmallow

Heat the water then turn down the heat. Stir the marshmallows until melted.

Once melted, scrape the marshmallow into the xylitol and stir together with 1 tablespoon of cooled, boiled water. This can be done in a food mixer. Once combined, place in an airtight freezer bag and leave for a few hours to set.

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Prepare your cake ready for covering with fondant. Lightly knead your icing.

Dust your worktop with powdered xylitol and roll out your icing.

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Cover your cake with the icing, first smooth over the top before smoothing the icing to the sides of your cake. Trim the icing around the bottom of the cake. If your xylitol is quite grainy it will show in the finished icing as shown here.

sugar-free fondant

Squires Kitchen Flexi-Ice

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

I was really excited to discover this product and wanted to share it with you. I love finding new cake decorating techniques that are available for allergen free cakes too. 

Flexi-ice cake

Vintage lace has been very popular on wedding cakes this year. Such delicate decoration at one time would have needed a great deal of skill to achieve. This is really easy to use and looks very professional.

Squires Kitchen Flexi-Ice does not contain any allergens in the ingredients list. The allergy advice does state ‘May contain nuts’. Please be aware that other brands do contain wheat flour. Always check the label but I know you do!

You can pipe with this icing but it does take a bit of practise for finer work.

Flexi-ice cupcakes

I have taken the following text from the product description which explains how to use it.

Flexi-Ice is a flexible, multi-purpose icing with a delicate natural vanilla flavour. Ideal for creating fine, edible lace in sugar, this versatile mix can also be piped, stencilled, coloured and used to make edible confetti.
Developed by the experts at Squires Kitchen and thoroughly tested by professional cake makers, Flexi-Ice is easy to both make and apply. Simply add 150ml of cooled, boiled water for every 100g of the mix and beat until smooth – you can leave the icing white or colour it any shade with Squires Kitchen’s wide range of liquid, paste and dust food colours.

Spread onto mould
Once mixed, Flexi-Ice is perfect for piping and stencilling on cakes, cupcakes and cookies. For a lace effect, spread the paste over a lace mould with a smoother or scraper.

Peel away from mould Either leave to air-dry or place in a cool oven or dehumidifier for just 20–30 minutes and the paste should easily peel away from the mat. Flexi-Ice remains pliable for at least a day and, if it starts to firm up, just pass the icing through the steam of a kettle to restore its flexibility.

FoldOnce made, the unique texture of Flexi-Ice makes it so easy to decorate with – simply cut the paste with scissors or a pizza wheel and fold it into shape. Create on-trend lace decorations, such as sumptuous frills, beautiful bows and delicate flowers for celebration cakes, favours, desserts and more.

Pack shot

New Squires Kitchen Instant Mix Flexi-Ice is available from www.squires-shop.com and from good cake decorating suppliers nationwide. RRP £8.99 for 500g.

Ingredients

Sugar, Glucose powder, Potato starch, Thickeners: Sodium Alginate, Gum Tragacanth, Xanthan gum, Colour: E171, Preservative: Potassium Sorbate; Acidity Regulator: Citric Acid; Natural Vanilla Flavouring

Sugar Free Marzipan and Sugar Free Cake.

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Have you heard about Sukrin all-natural sweetener? When you read the information about it, it does sound too good to be true! I have searched the internet for opinions on this product. The information I have found all sounds positive.

And it is great for baking!

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It is available granulated, ground down like icing sugar and also as a demerara sugar substitute. So it seems all the sugar needed bases are covered with these three products. The only sugar based confectionery you can’t make with it is caramel!

Sukrin admit their products are a little pricey at the moment but they are working hard to reduce this. More information about all the Sukrin products can be found here.

I used the granulated sweetener to make simple vanilla cupcakes so I could taste the sweetness easily or any aftertaste. I used it exactly as I would caster sugar in a sponge recipe.

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I made some cupcakes with sukrin and wheat flour and some with gluten free flour. Both types of cakes rose as they would using sugar. They were not as sweet as those made with sugar but sweet enough and if you are going to use it all the time your taste buds adjust to the level of sweetness quite quickly.

As you can see Sukrin Melis worked well for dusting the top of cakes and for glace icing. The icing does leave a peppermint kind of cooling sensation on your tongue for a few seconds afterwards. The company recommend if you are going to make buttercream to use half and half with icing sugar to balance the taste and consistency.

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There are many recipes on the Sukrin website. The cake recipes on the website use a fat free sponge which if you are diabetic or follow a low fat diet you would obviously prefer but this type of sponge is not so good for celebration cakes as it is too light and wouldn’t last as long as a victoria sponge.

I was very interested in the sugar free, low fat marzipan recipe as this would be good for celebration cakes. It could even be coloured and used instead of fondant / roll out icing to decorate your celebration cake. I found it can be moulded as usual marzipan. If you are covering a cake with this marzipan and it splits a little on the edges you can rub it to join it back together.

If made with Sukrin almond flour, this marzipan will also be low in fat as 80% of the fat is removed!

I made this marzipan using pasteurised egg white powder to be safe especially as it doesn’t contain sugar or fat. I also tried it using Orgran No Egg and it was just as good. I would recommend this marzipan is eaten within a week so I would bear this in mind if using to cover a fruit cake.

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Apple Shaped Teachers Gift – Gluten and Dairy Free Chocolate Cake

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

I can’t believe my sons first year at school will be over in one week. Reception year in his school is three classes but they all mingle and they have lots of teaching assistants so I thought I would make a little present for all of the teaching staff.

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I also made his two main teachers a jar of dairy free gooseberry curd – I’ll post this recipe next week.

I cooked the chocolate cake in a 6 x 2 inch wide half sphere silicone mould.

This recipe makes 12 whole spheres or a 6 inch round cake

150g dairy free margarine (I use Vitalite)
200g caster sugar
50g dairy and gluten free plain chocolate (around 60% cocoa solids – I find a higher cocoa solid content gives a drier cake)
4 eggs
75g self raising gluten free flour
30g dairy and gluten free cocoa powder

Dairy free chocolate ganache

75ml almond milk
110g dairy and gluten free plain chocolate

10g dairy free margarine
40g icing sugar

Strawberry jam

I also used

1kg gluten free sugarpaste
gluten free apple green paste food colouring (I used Sugarflair gooseberry with a little mint green)
red dust food colouring
a small amount brown sugarpaste
a small amount of dark green sugarpaste

Apple or rose leaf cutter and mould

For the dairy free ganache

Make the dairy free ganache a few hours before and allow to set at room temperature – heat the almond milk until boiling and mix in the chocolate until melted.
Mix the dairy free margarine and icing sugar together. When the ganache has set, mix this into the ganache and leave to set again. This makes a lighter ganache.

For the chocolate cake

Preheat oven to 190°c/170°c fan oven/ gas mark 5
Melt the chocolate on a low heat in the microwave.
Cream the margarine and sugar together until light in colour
Beat in the melted chocolate, scrape down the sides to ensure all the chocolate is incorporated.
Crack the eggs into a cup, whisk together then mix into the creamed mixture a little at a time.
Sieve the gluten free flour and cocoa powder together then fold into the mixture until combined.
Spoon a little of the mixture into each mould just over ¾ full.
Bake for about 15 minutes until a knife inserted comes out clean.
Leave to cool in the mould for a few minutes before turning out onto a cooling wire.
If you need to refill the same mould, wash before using again.

Once all of your half spheres are baked and cooled, place back into the mould and slice the top off level with the mould.

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Spread strawberry jam and ganache over half of the half sphere then put another sponge on top. Fill in the gap around the centre with more ganache then spread all over the cakes. Leave to set for a few minutes.

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Knead then roll out your green sugarpaste, cut a circle big enough to cover your ball. Place over a cake and mould around.
Cut the excess paste away from the bottom. You can then pick up the cake carefully and mould the sugarpaste underneath to make the ball shape. Place back on the table and smooth the icing into shape.
Indent a cone tool in the top.
Brush with red dust food colouring and rub in with your hands.
Roll a thin sausage of brown sugarpaste and cut into the shape of a stem. Attach inside the cone at the top with edible glue or rose water.
Roll out the dark green sugarpaste and cut out 12 leaves. Mark a leaf pattern with the mould or a knife. You can dust them with dark green and a little red dust colouring. Attach one to each stem with rose water. Leave to dry.
I wrapped each of mine in cellophane with a little thank you tag written by my son.

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A Perfectionists Guide to Decorating Cakes With Young Children!

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

I am a perfectionist, I know this! A couple of years ago I admit I didn’t like the idea of letting my then two year old decorate our Christmas cake. Last Christmas I came up with a compromise.

I know Christmas is far from everyones mind but this idea could work for other cakes too!

This first cake was made for nanny and grandad. I wanted to give them a pretty cake but knew they would love it if the boys had helped too.

How to decorate a Christmas cake can be found here.

I covered the cake with marzipan and icing and made the poinsettias to go on top. I rolled out coloured sugarpaste and the boys cut out Christmas shapes using cookie cutters. They decorated each shape with cutters, sugarpaste shapes and painted with food colouring. I then attached each shape to the sides of the cake.

Each year I make a Christmas cake for my sister in law and family too so last Christmas I invited her and her two year old to come over and decorate their own cake too.

Christmas tree cake

I cut two Christmas tree shapes from an 8 inch square cake by cutting out one triangle and sticking the two offcuts from the sides to make another triangle the same size. I stuck this together with a thin layer of marzipan. I cut out the tree shape and used the offcuts to mould together the ‘stump’ of each tree. I then marzipanned the cake and covered it with green and black sugarpaste.

The children cut out shapes from rolled out sugarpaste. I then gave them piping bags of coloured icing and let them decorate their cakes how they wanted.

Not bad for a 4 year old and two 2 year olds and it made me smile everytime I looked at our cake.

I might let them help with the tree next year………….

Egg, gluten and dairy free wedding cookies

Monday, January 28th, 2013

I was asked how to decorate cookies with flooded icing without using egg. You can get the same effect, shinier in fact by using fondant icing.

I don’t mean sugarpaste. I mean bakers fondant which is made from sugar and glucose syrup. This can be bought in block form which is how bakers use it, you can buy it from the supermarket as ‘fondant sugar’ which you mix with water before using or you can buy real fruit fondant powder from Squires Kitchen.

The three cookies on the left were decorated with block fondant. The three cookies on the right are decorated with powdered fondant sugar. My photography is not brilliant but I hope you can see that both give a good finish.

Both block form and powdered fondant sugar will give a smooth shiny finish which is as shinier than flooded royal icing – and you don’t need a heat lamp to dry the icing.

Tips – Prepare your fondant sugar in a glass bowl and stir with a metal spoon. Plastic bowls can hold onto any grease previously held in the bowl and this will affect the shine of your fondant.

Pipe the outline of your shape with sugarpaste ‘let down’ with cooled boiled water. I add 1ml to 20g sugarpaste but this doesn’t have to be exact. Use this to fill a piping bag fitted with a number 2 nozzle.

To prepare your fondant sugar – stir in water a few drops at a time until it is a thick pourable consistency. Colour with liquid or paste food colouring.

To prepare block bakers fondant – place your fondant in a glass bowl, pour a small amount of water over the top. Place into a microwave on a low heat, stir after every 30 seconds until it is the required consistency. It should be just warm. You can add a little water to adjust the consistency. Do not overheat as this will effect the shine and constant overheating will cause the fondant to become grainy. Colour with liquid or paste food colouring.

Both sugars dry hard and you can pipe on top. This method can also be used to make free standing ‘run out decorations – you can either draw your pattern the wrong way round onto a piece of silicon baking paper, turn upside down so the pencil marks are underneath, or place a piece of clear cellophane on top of your design and pipe your design onto this. Pipe the shape outline with let down sugarpaste in a piping bag fitted with a number 2 nozzle. Fill in the shape with the fondant icing in a piping bag. Leave to dry before carefully running a very thin thin palette knife underneath to loosen from the paper.

This recipe makes about 12 x 3inch heart shaped biscuits.

 Ingredients
70g caster sugar
150g dairy free margarine
100g gluten free plain flour
100g maize flour or cornflour
1 x 500g pack fondant sugar (available from your supermarket)
Small amount sugarpaste, coloured as required
paste or liquid food colouring
any extra decoration

Equipment
1 large baking tray
cookie cutters
rolling pin
small paper piping bags
number 2 piping nozzle
small cranked palette knife

Method
Preheat the oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas mark 4.

Mix the sugar together with the dairy free margarine until combined.

Mix in the gluten free flour and maize flour and bring together to form a dough.

Dust your worktop with gluten free flour. Roll out the dough ¼ inch thick and stamp out shapes using biscuit cutters.

Place onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper lightly brushed with oil.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes and leave on the baking tray to cool.

Let down your coloured sugarpaste with cooled, boiled water. Paddle with a small cranked palette knife to remove any lumps and air bubbles.Fill a paper piping bag fitted with a number 2 piping nozzle.

Pipe any outlines on your cookie with the let down sugarpaste.

Prepare and colour your fondant sugar until it is a thick pouring consistency. Fill a paper piping bag with this. It does not need a nozzle.

Snip the very tip of your piping bag off with a pair of scissors and pipe the fondant onto your cookie within the outline. Start piping, keep the point of your piping bag in the piped fondant to ‘guide’ the fondant where you want it to go. Try not to overfill. Leave in place to dry. Decorate as required.

Once dry the fondant can be piped on top.