For the benefit of those who wish to excel in the art of ornamenting bride or other cakes with icing (technically called "piping,") I give a sheet of diagrams, which will almost explain themselves, and will require but little study by those having a taste for artistic work (which most ladies have) to master it; and I promise you that if you will master this sheet of diagrams before attempting any thing more elaborate (on the same principle as you first perfect yourself in the scales for music before attempting the playing of a piece), that you will succeed beyond your expectations, and will soon be able to ornament a cake equal to an expert. I would here remark that this applies to all kinds of ornamenting, as it is all done in the same manner, no matter whether the material used be butter, lard, or savory jelly for the decoration of tongues, roast chicken, hams, etc., or sweet jelly, chocolate or sugar for the ornamentation of all kinds of cakes. Learn one, and you have learned all.
For example, if you wish to decorate a tongue, ham, or roast chicken, use either butter, lard, or savory jelly, instead of sugar, and in precisely the same manner as you would icing. This ornamentation, with the addition of a little parsley, and a cut root flower or so, completes the operation of decorating the above-named articles. They are sometimes further, or even altogether decorated or garnished with "tippets," cut diamond or triangular form, and consisting of toasted bread, "aspic" jelly, etc.; but this style of garnishing is usually adopted only by those who are not competent to decorate or garnish with butter, lard, or savory jelly, and who are not able to cut their own root flowers. Root flowers are usually cut in the form of roses, tulips, dahlias, etc., from white and yellow turnips, beets, and carrots, and the edges of the leaves are usually tipped with pink color, such as liquid "cochineal."
To use jelly for decorating or piping cakes, set it in a place where it will get just warm enough to pass through the cone with the aid of a gentle pressure; in cold weather it is well to beat it with a spoon, in addition to warming it. This makes it one uniform consistency. When ready for use fill the cone with it, then proceed as directed for piping, using the cone in the same manner as if it contained icing.
To use butter or lard treat it in the same manner as jelly, so as to get it just soft enough to pass through the cone. Be very careful not to get it too soft or it will not stand. In warm weather you can add a little flour to stiffen it, but not too much, or it will not pass through the cone; when ready fill cone with it, same as for icing, and use the cone in the same manner.
To cut root flowers, wash the roots, and for say a rose, take a good shaped turnip, pare it, cut it the proper shape, then with a sharp pocket knife (French root-flower cutters may be had of dealers in confectioner's supplies,) go all round the bottom edge, so; then repeat this operation, so , bringing the second cuts between the first, and holding the back of the knife blade from you and the edge towards you. This causes the cuts to meet at the bottom, and then by holding the knife point down, and running it all round inside the cut the piece falls out, leaving the leaves separate and distinct. Continue this until you reach the center, so. A little practice will assist you in this particular, and you will soon be able to make other flowers, as the principle is the same; when the flowers are cut tip the edges with a little cochineal.
To ornament a cake with icing, use prepared icing in the manner I shall hereafter describe. The icing may be harmlessly colored, as follows: for pink, use "cochineal;" for blue, use indigo; for yellow, use saffron; for green, use blue and yellow, until you attain, the required shade of color.
Although I have given the different colors, should you wish touse them, I would not recommend them except in cases where their use is required to produce effect, and not to be eaten. Too much color, or too great a number of colors, are objectionable and not in good taste. I suggest keeping as much as possible to plain white, light pink, light cream color, chocolate color, produced by the use of chocolate or cocoa, and the natural colors produced by the use of the various sweet jellies. By a judicious and artistic arrangement of the colors the above articles will give, it is possible to produce an unlimited variety, and not place any thing before guests objectionable in point of color.
The sugar used for decorating cakes is prepared in the same manner as that for icing cake (see icing for cakes.) To use it, have ready prepared some paper cones, made by folding or rolling up a piece of paper in the form of a cornet, and securing the joint with a little mucilage or white of eggs (see No. 1, in page of diagrams). Now with a sharp knife cut off the point of cone so as to leave hole any size needed, from a pin's size to half an inch in diameter (see No. 2, for plain round work). If you wish a star (No. 3), cut off the point of the cone to form an aperture equal to the center of the star you require, then cut out the points, as shown in No. 22. If for a leaf, cut as shown in No. 24. Now fill these cones three-fourths full with the prepared icing, fold down the top securely, so that the sugar will not force back, and all is ready to commence the ornamentation. (I would here say that it will save the trouble of cutting the cones to use little brass tubes, made for the purpose, at a cost of from ten to fifteen cents each. In using these you have only to cut off the point of the paper cone large enough to allow the tube to come through half its length. These tubes will last a lifetime, and can be procured from almost any confectioner's supply store.)
The cones being filled with the sugar, and the cake ready iced, mark out (as lightly as possible) with a lead-pencil the design on the cake; then go over the design with the cones of sugar, in the manner hereafter described, until the design is complete. (I say this, presuming you have mastered the diagrams.) I will now explain the diagrams, and in so doing hope I shall succeed in making you fully understand the use and purposes of the cones, and the various yet simple "means to the end," that you may be able to so arrange the various diagrams as to form a harmonious whole, and surprise yourself by producing a design beyond your expectations.