Using examples, both good and bad, from my portfolio.
#1 Check and double check spelling before committing to cake writing (Mazel tov is two words not one).
#2 Write with melted chocolate because it’s classier and more legible than frosting. Mix the chocolate with enough vegetable oil to make it pourable but not drippy. Use genuine chocolate because it has a thinner, smoother pour due to its higher cocoa butter content. Recipe: Melt ¼ cup chips or chopped chocolate then add about ½-1 teaspoons of canola oil until a good writing consistency is achieved.
#3 Write with a deliberately wonky font. Wonky style is the most forgiving of all fonts.
#4 Write with bubble-ended letters for a playful look and to make the start/stop points look like they’re done on purpose.
#5 If there’s space, write on the cake board. Mistakes can be scraped off and redone on a board.
6. Writing blindly without a strategy may result in some words getting crammed against a starfish followed by an unexpected amount of extra space at the bottom of the cake, the solution to which is to underline the sentiment over and over and over and over and over and over again….or better yet, plan the placement of words in advance of writing. Take a shorter inscription, Congratulations Meredith, for example.
First, type the phrase into a word processing document. Then, center justify the font and study the outcome.
Note first how the words line up horizontally. Meredith is a shorter word than Congratulations so on the cake, Meredith should be tabbed in. Note that the M at the start of Meredith falls under the g in Congratulations so when it comes time to write Meredith, begin directly under that g.
#7 Congratulations, at 15 letters, is a toughy. It helps when writing long words to refrain from dotting i’s and crossing t’s until the skeleton of the word is in place since stopping to do so breaks rhythm and is more likely to cause a misspelling or wobble.
#8 To center long words horizontally on a cake, note where the true center of the word lies. In this case, tu marks the center point of Congratulations. So aim to reach the middle of the cake around tu. Sometimes I will write tulations first, starting in the middle of the cake then finish with Congratu by writing it from right to left. That technique ensures there will be enough room for the entire word.
#9 To achieve vertical symmetry, write words from the inside of the phrase out.
For example, for the 4-line inscription, Happy Birthday, Barbara & Jeff, begin by writing the center portion of the text, Birthday, Barbara.
Then add the top and bottom elements. This method will guarantee that the text will be evenly distributed vertically. More commonly, a cake reads Happy Birthday So-and-So with only one person’s name. In that case, begin by writing the word Birthday across the middle then finishing with Happy on top and So-and-So on the bottom.
10. To distract the eye from flaws or asymmetry or to simply to enhance a cake’s face, fill the blank spaces around words with polka dots.
11. To include inscriptions on the vertical sides of cakes, roll out a 1/8” thick slab of fondant, modeling chocolate, or, marzipan. Write on it, allow it to dry, then affix it to the side of the cake with a dot or two of buttercream.
The benefit of using rolled modeling chocolate for plaques is that it can also be curved like this tag on a present cake. The plaque method is handy since it avoids writing directly on the surface of a cake. Make a mistake? No worries; just flip the plaque over and write on its back side or conceivably, write on as many plaques as it takes to get it right.
12. Last but not least, practice, practice, practice. Practice on parchment or wax paper. Get some chocolate and practice right now!
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