Ruffle cakes are at the top of my list for things that I absolutely adore every time I see them. They are so sweet. They’re adorable. They are the dessert equivalent of summer dresses (that one is maybe relative). But man, they are HARD. The first time I tried to make a ruffle cake it looked like something my sister made. I think I told people she made it. I’m a horrible person. But when we had a birthday to celebrate at the office I decided I could only rock the rosettes (my go to decorating technique) for so long, and it was time to live on the edge. After some blood, sweat, and tears (just kidding it was all very hygienic and normal) I was so so so impressed with how it turned out, so I had to share!
One thing I will note is that if you are doing this maybe don’t do it in such a bright colour (like, ahem, yellow) because it catches the light so well the shadows don’t show up as well and it’s hard to tell there’s actual depth there. This is obviously only an issue if you’re photographing your cake in detail. I.e. if you’re doing a blog post and want to show people how to make this cake, don’t do it in yellow. Oops. Just trust me, the ruffles are there.
Like the rosette cake, a lot of the true work here is in the decorating tip you use. I experimented with a few (bakers everywhere will have a different preference, and it’s impossible to please them all, and everybody is different, and blah blah do what makes you happy) before I found the Wilton 104. It’s a good mix because the ruffles aren’t so big they fall on you but it also gives you enough to get a good angle.
Tip #2 for this one would be to decorate a tall-ish cake. We make a lot of mini cakes which are so cute and great, but they’re hard to get a lot of ruffles on. Make sure you trim your cardboard cakeplate so you can get right up to the side of the cake. You need to be able to hold your hand at a weird angle so once you get to the base that angle is a bit complicated. I would suggest a two-plate system, where you have one trimmed right to the bare minimum and another to put the finished product on. This all makes sense once you get started.
First step, crumb coat your cake. We’ve talked about that before, but basically you’re slathering icing on your cake to keep everything together. After you crumb coat, stick it in the fridge. You want it to be firm or the icing will sag under the weight of the ruffles. You can cool your icing bag as well, but if it’s too firm you can’t pipe a sticky enough icing to “stick” to your cake, so keep that in mind. A general rule would be maybe 5 minutes for your piping bag and 15 for your crumb coated cake.
To start your ruffle, I would suggest starting at the top. There is no scientific reason for this, except that if it starts to sag you can prop it up with another ruffle below, whereas starting from the bottom gives you less of a back up plan. That’s almost the same as science, right?
Holding your icing bag with the fat end of the tip facing down, angle your hand so the fat end (the bottom) of the tip is touching your cake, while the skinny end has space between it and the cake.
This is where the angle is super important, and why you need to be able to get right up beside your cake. If your cake is the same size as your decorating wheel (i.e. not the same size as mine) this will be easier for you. Gently squeeze the icing out as consistently as you can while slowly spinning the wheel to go all the way around your cake. You want to be as consistent as possible, but don’t stress too much; the different pressures will only create interest in the ruffles. You’ll see when you start squeezing the way the ruffles are going to sit. If you want tighter ruffles, angle your hand less, so it’s more horizontal. You can control the way they look with your angles so feel free to experiment. Make sure you keep the fat end against the cake, or your ruffles won’t have anything to adhere to!
Once you finish a ruffle, start the next one below. I tried to start and stop in the same place each time so there was a bit of a “seam” at the back of the cake. It just made it cleaner from the front. I’m also crazy. If you want your ruffles to be more spaced out, adjust your tip placement accordingly. I did these ones pretty loose, but when I do another one I’ll probably do more. Basically put the next ruffle right underneath the first one, so there is only a tiny little space between the edges of the ruffles.
Depending on how clean you want your ruffles to look, you can go faster or slower, and work with a more/less liquid consistency on your icing. I feel like in these pictures they look a little messy, but they look normal in real life, honest. The best part about this technique is, like the rosette cake, you see how it’s supposed to look the moment you start. So once you do your first ruffle, you get the hint about how the rest need to look, and it helps you guide from there!
So that’s that! Give it a try yourself this weekend, it’s super cute!