My cake friends kept saying that but since I don’t make a lot of pretty cakes, I didn’t really have much chance to give it a go. Then I saw on the Bake A Wish list that an open-design cake was requested for a seniors’ facility birthday party, so I leapt at the chance (or rather clicked and typed at the chance…I don’t do a lot of actual leaping anymore).
I Googled “brush embroidery” and found dozens of completely free tutorials, both in photos and videos. Just do that and you’ll be set.
The basics are this: use royal icing to pipe a squiggly flower-like shape (assuming you’re doing flowers…and yes that’s making me wonder what terribly nerdy things I should try with this technique instead). Use a small, damp brush to pull out bits of the icing on the inside of the line. Add dots/lines over top as necessary and brush again or not as desired. Repeat.
Given how terrible I am at piping (and I truly am, believe me, it’s just that whenever you’ve seen my piping work turn out it’s because I’ve taken hours to do it, sometimes constantly removing bad bits and redoing them), this was awesome for me because I can totally handle “random squiggly line”. I’m a genius at “random squiggly line”.
I actually had more trouble getting the fondant over this cake evenly than I did with the brush embroidery. I was tired and kept making mistakes, enough that I had to do a patch job. But then I covered that with my first flower:
Then I just went around the cake trying to make flowers of various sizes so it wouldn’t look like I was trying to make them all alike (since I was pretty sure I couldn’t), and spacing them fairly evenly. Voila, a pretty cake donated to a group of seniors in need:
Just keep your brush damp. Not drippy wet, because that’ll disintegrate the royal icing and the fondant. I kept a small glass of water beside me for occasional dipping, and to help clean off excess gobs of royal. I dabbed it off on a clean cloth every time I dipped it. When it dries out, you get more lumpy pulls on the royal, so damp is best.
Try it. I promise, it’s super-easy. Now I want to try some of the multicoloured effects I’ve seen online like these ones. I just need another excuse to do it. Hey, it’s about to be Easter weekend…I should see if my kid wants to use up some of the dark chocolate fondant we’ve got and try brush embroidery herself. Woot! Weekend deliciousness, here we come!
UPDATE: We did try it!