Cake boards are the support system for the cake you are decorating. A cake board is a piece of corrugated cardboard or foam cut into the shape you need for your cake. The most common shapes are circle, square and rectangle. However, cake bases can be easily cut into any shape you want.
As a general rule, the diameter of the bottom cake board should be 1 to 2 inches larger than the cake. When the board is a couple of inches larger than the cake, you will easily be able to move the cake without accidently touching the cake and smearing the frosting or decoration.
The diameter of the board can be more than 2 inches larger than the cake, if that works with your overall cake design and presentation.
The other tiers of the cake above the bottom tier should have a cake board that is the same size or slightly smaller than the cake. You do not want to see the cake board on the second or third tier of a cake because that will interfere with the overall appearance of the cake.
Sometimes you may need to glue several cake boards together to support a heavy cake. If you have a tiered cake, plan on gluing two to three boards together. The cardboard boards should be strong and not bend when supporting the weight of the cake.
If you have a particularly heavy cake or a cake with many tiers, a cake drum is a better option. Cake drums are thicker and sturdier than cake boards, even when several are glued together.
Another option for very heavy cakes is to cut a cake base out of wood with a jigsaw.
Decide which option is best for each particular cake that you decorate. This is one are many cake decorating technique that should not be taken lightly. It would be very unfortunate for a beautiful cake to collapse because of an incorrect support system.
In designing your cake, keep in mind that the cake board can add to the appearance or theme of the cake. Commonly the shape of the board is the same shape as the cake.
For example, a round cake will have a round cake base and a square cake will have a square cake board. Sometimes, however, you may want the shape of the base to differ from the cake shape to keep a theme or add to the overall picture of your cake.
For example, a cake shaped like a ladybug may look wonderful on a cake board in a leaf shape.
If you are cutting the cake board, trace the shape you want in pencil before you cut it. To cut, use an xacto knife or a small jigsaw.
Covering the Board
Never place a cake directly on a cake base. First, a cake board is cardboard and has not been handled with the same attention and cleanliness that food has been.
To prevent germs from getting on the cake, always cover the board. You have several options when covering the board – Food grade foil (Fanci-Foil) or doilies, fondant or modeling chocolate or royal icing. Each option has unique advantages.
A grease-proof foil, called Fanci-Foil, used to cover a cake board will add an elegant look to your cake. Fanci-Foil is the quickest and easiest way to cover a cake board.
Simply lay the board on the paper and cut the paper in the same shape, adding 2-3 inches. Fold the edges of the paper over the board and tape in place. This is similar to wrapping a gift.
When covering a round cake board make several small cuts in the paper to the edge of the board to allow the paper to fold over the edge of the board easily.
Gluing a coordinating ribbon around the diameter of the board adds a professional finishing touch to the cake.
Fanci-foil adds elegance to a cake.
Covering a cake board in fondant is common with more casual cakes. The fondant can match the color of the cake or can be a coordinating color.
To cover the board with fondant, first roll out the fondant to ¼ inch thick. Lay the board on top of the fondant and cut the fondant 2 to 3 inches larger than the board. Remove the board from the fondant. Roll the fondant around a rolling pin so it can move easier.
Pipe a small amount of piping gel around the edge of the board. Unroll the fondant across the board and smooth with a fondant smoother. Lift the board and turn it upside down onto a thin sprinkle of powdered sugar or cornstarch.
Pipe piping gel around the edge of the board. Fold the fondant over the edge and secure and smooth it with the fondant smoother. Turn the board back over and brush the cornstarch off the fondant.
Finish it off by attaching ribbon around the circumference of the board with piping gel.
Allow the fondant to dry for a couple of days before placing a cake on top.
Covering a cake cardboard in royal icing consists of flooding the board with thinned royal icing. After preparing the royal icing, slowly thin it with water until it is the consistency for flooding. (Spoon some out and drop it back in the container. It should completely flood back into the icing within 10 seconds. When that happens it is ready to use.)
Pipe royal icing around the edge of the board on top. Then starting from one side, pipe icing back and forth until the whole board is covered or flooded with royal icing.
You must allow the icing to dry for several hours. The board will have a smooth finish.
When the royal icing is dry, glue the ribbon around the circumference of the board.
Covering your cake base is necessary to keep the cake away from germs that may be on a cake board. However, covering the board is a cake decorating technique that also adds beauty and design to the overall appearance of your cake.
Presentation is essential when showcasing a cake. Make your cake stand out by beginning with a professional cake board.