Free texture hacks just for you.…
One of the biggest challenges we face as cake artists is replicating real world textures in cake form. It really does make the difference between something looking like a nice cake version of whatever it is you are trying to create – and it actually looking like the real deal.
Here are a few of my favourite go-to texture creating tools and the best bit? You’ll have them all kicking around your house already! Woop woop!
Tinfoil is the most amazing, totally food safe texture material. Ball it, scrunch it, smooth it out, wrinkle it up and see what stunning texture patterns it can create. Scrunched tight makes brilliant natural rock patterns from granite to marble, tarmac, dried riverbed or paving slabs details. Looser balls can give you coral markings and some animal skin textures – like dragon legs! Clingfilm gives the same patterns only with softer more subtle finish. I used a combination of both on this crispy chicken skin here and Toothless leg texture and board details were all created in a similar way.
I used clingfilm scrunched up to create the pores and texture on this all-cake arm.
Straws come in all sorts of sizes and are my secret weapon when it comes to all reptile/amphibian textures. The massive oversized ‘Bubble T’ make great dragon scales with the smaller ones working fantastically for your lizards and smaller scaley animals. My tip would be to use a number of sizes in any one project and work in radial patterns from largest, surrounding with smaller straw circles. Just push the end of the straw into the sugarpaste and release to create your scale. **Top Tip!** Try your hardest not to overlap your circles.
Straws can also be manipulated to change the shape of the end as well so if you need a non-circular scale you can either put pressure on the end of the straw with your fingers to fix the shape you need with a bit of tape and create more square or oblong scales. Not all scales are born equal you see! A crocodile scale for example is not round.
The netting from a bag of oranges you find in the supermarket is yet another amazing untapped texture. If you stretch it out over your icing and gently roll your pin over it the result will be a beautifully embossed snakeskin print. Scrunched up into a ball it makes a woollen/fabric texture perfect for snuggly sugarpaste blankets.
You’d be amazed what you can achieve with the netting from one of these. And no, it’s not a cake – it’s a bunch of oranges silly!
Kitchen Sponges, bath poofs, dry, clean tea towels…
All these things create amazing textures, scruffy, close fibre, stubby goodness. Make sure they are new and used only for your texture games though!
If there is one tool that I couldn’t and wouldn’t be without it’s the humble toothpick (and its big brother, the skewer.) Not only do they help support the floppiest of ears, you can also use them to create all manner of textures from frilling or fraying your blanket edges to tying a bunch of them together with an elastic band and twisting the lot back and forth into the sugarpaste to create brilliant teddy bear fur.
Piping tips are essentially little bits of metal with a wide hole at the back and a smaller hole in the front, the wide circles are another great option for your scales or buttons and the smaller end make beautiful rivets for collars or any metal work in your cake. Don’t tell anyone but I’ve even been known to bash in the wider end of piping tips to make a perfect, specific ellipse shape that I needed but shhh that’s totally between us – ok? (I also do that to cookie cutters to to get the shape I’m after as well– yes, I’m going to cake artist hell for sure.)
Non-slip matting/texture mats
There are any numbers of unintentional surfaces that you can use to emboss patterns into your sugarpaste. This waffle effect is a sugar lace mat that works brilliantly as an embossing mat, actually I use all my sugar lace mats as embossing patterns and none of them for sugar lace! I also use non-slip matting you get with sugarcraft boards as it has a wonderful ‘blanket’ texture to it. Outside of our industry then bubble wrap makes brilliant honeycomb shapes and even ceiling lighting panels make fantastic geometric repeat patterns. You just have to open you eyes to what is looking right at you.
These must be new and sterilised before use. They are fabulous little texture tools perfect for snipping grass or creating fur on smaller sculpts like kittens. They are also brilliant for pushing in fiddly cocktails sticks or removing bits of icing that may fall off into nooks and crannies.
A brand new sterilised toothbrush creates a gorgeous soft stipple pattern perfect for stuffed teddy textures, raggies and other similar toys and treats you might create for your cake animals or even a soft beach texture! You can also drag it through royal icing to create waves and sea foam. It makes great blood splatter too but that’s a whole other blog post!
Bottle tops and food grade plastic
Once you get your eye in you will discover your home is absolutely packed with amazing ‘tools’ with which to create textures on your cakes, look for food grade plastics in food packaging you normally recycle. Endless sizes of bottle tops make perfect circle cutters for car wheel alloys and the grooved edges make effective pattern detailing for edible baby bottle tops or even sugar dog toys!
*Make sure the tops you are using are new and come from food packaging only! No one wants soapy residue in their cakes – bleugh!
The more you start looking around the more things you will find that will have a great use in your cake games. Before you know it, you’ll be hoarding all sorts of bits and bobs ‘just in case’ you need it on a cake one day and cursing anyone who tries to throw away your texture stash. Happy hoarding!
If you have any other great texture hacks you want to share with me please do hit reply or post up on my free community group here…
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