Finding Inspiration in the Kitchen
People sometimes wonder where I get ideas for decorating the cakes I bake. I find inspiration for my decoration by looking on the social media of other creators to gather ideas from various different pages. I also tend to be inspired by my ingredients and flavors and will often use these characteristics to personalize the decorations for a cake or dessert. Cookbooks with great photography are another way that I find good decorating techniques in addition to the recipes.
I have taken some basic baking courses at King Arthur Flour, but I am mainly self-taught in baking and decorating. I have learned a lot about baking through television and social media and I have developed my skills for baking and decorating by consistently practicing and experimenting with new techniques.
One of the biggest lessons that can be learned from decorating is that sometimes less is more. It can be very tempting to decorate with many different mediums (edible products) and materials, but sometimes there is simply nothing better than a sleek, defined, and clean dessert without excessive decorations. Another lesson I have learned while decorating is that it is important to experiment. On a recent commission of mine I was working with liquid sugar for some tanghulu fruit and I placed the molten sugar into cold water to dispose of it without damaging my garbage or sink.
To my surprise, I found that the sugar hardened and crystallized into beautiful amber shapes that I thought would make the perfect decorations. This is a great example of experimenting in the kitchen and getting some very interesting results.
My favorite medium for decorating is typically piping. Piping is a classic decoration throughout all of the dessert world, and it is a prestigious and elegant skill. My favorite thing about piping is that even simple designs can be extremely difficult to execute. In my opinion, a dessert with intricate piping shows off excellence, skill, artisanship, and creativity beyond other mediums of decoration. Piping is a timeless classic when it comes to decoration and presentation, but there are many other mediums and styles I enjoy. Though I have never been too skilled with it, chocolate work can be stunning and elegant, and I see it as one of the most respectable skills in baking and decorating. Sugar work is also extremely beautiful and shows off skill and artisanship. That being said, not everything has to be intricately decorated with jaw-dropping techniques — sometimes natural, and simple decorations can be very powerful also. A nice rustic, heart-warming, homey dessert can speak for itself without stunning decorations, and natural decorations
like flowers, leaves, nuts, and fruits can also be very beautiful.
If I have any advice for other young people who enjoy the culinary world I would say that it is important to experiment in the kitchen and have fun while creating really delicious food. It’s best to test everything out, tweak your favorite recipes, and find new and creative ways to have fun in the kitchen. Cooking and baking can be a true art form, and decoration is a great way to express creativity and artistic ability.