For one four-tier, 9-inch cake.
Ombre has been in style for some time; in clothing, hair, makeup, and now in food. You can make endlessly beautiful designs with icing, but not all of them have to be done with piping tips or hours of time. This Ombre icing look is done with four different colors, but feel free to use gradients of a single color instead.
You will need the following tools:
- Baked, filled and stacked cake
- Wilton Icing Smoother
- Cake Turntable
- Wilton Disposable 12” Decorating Bags
- Vanilla Buttercream
- Wilton Icing Gel Colors in Teal, Lavender and Royal Blue
- 7 cups powdered sugar
- 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons milk
- Optional ¼ teaspoon salt (I never add salt to my baking, but feel free if you like!)
- Optional flavoring extracts or liqueurs (be sure to add more powdered sugar to keep the texture thick enough)
Add each of the icing colors to its own disposable decorating bag. Use it all – more is better in this case, and you will see why shortly. Massage and push the icing toward the tip, taking care to eliminate any visible air bubbles. Cut about 1.5”-2” off the tip of the bag and twist or rubber band the open end.
Now for the fun part. It takes a few minutes, but it’s definitely fun. The basic technique for using the icing smoother (ombre or not) is to control the smoother with one hand and turn the turntable with the other. Line up the side of the smoother flush with the side of the cake, and then angle the smoother 45 degrees towards your body. Use slight pressure, about as much as you would use to put cream on your face – gentle, but purposeful. Make sure that both the top and bottom corners are touching the cake simultaneously. As a southpaw, I turn the cake clockwise with my right hand. If you are right-handed, you will be spinning the cake counter-clockwise with your left hand. The first few times you spin it there will be a large amount of excess icing left on the smoother (see why more is better?) Just wipe this off on a paper towel or the edge of a bowl.
As the spaces in between layers are filled in and the colors blend, there will be less and less excess icing to worry about. The more consistently you keep the turntable moving, the less edge marks you will have from the tool. I will tell you that there is no exact number of times you should go around; however, “enough” happens when there are no bumps or air pockets visible in the icing. If you press too hard and/or the colors start to get muddy, simply accept a few air patches to salvage the color effect – it will be worth it!
Once the sides are complete, move on to the top of the cake. Hold one corner of the smoother in the center of the cake, and tilt it towards your body at 45 degrees again. Just keep spinning the turntable until smooth. The top should take less time than the sides, especially because there are no colors to blend.
Lesson learned: Although I filled my cake layers pretty thoroughly, I decided that I should have “dirty-iced” the outside prior to putting the colored icing on. This would have filled in any extra or invisible spaces and created an almost perfectly even canvas to start with.