Do you cover your Cake Board? When you look at someone else’s cake and marvel at how professional and perfect it looks, how many times do you see it sat on a silver, uncovered board? Not often, I bet! But then how often do you see a cake with a board that is part of the cake design, and realise just how good it looks?
Covering a cake board is quick, easy and an essential finishing touch to make your cake look professional. No matter whether you are making a naked cake, buttercream cake, ganache cake or fondant cake, a covered cake board will not only give your cake that finishing flourish, but it can also add to the design of the cake.
There are a new type of cake boards on the market nowadays. They are either coloured or plain white. These are often sturdy, melamine or MDF boards that give cakes a lovely, sleek finished look. However, say you want something a little more personalised? Why not make your board part of the finished cake?!
Basically, it’s all about completing your design. A good design should draw your eyes to the highlights and parts of the cake you have spent longest over and want to show off, whilst everything else disappears from attention. So, if you have spent the time and effort designing a beautiful cake, why ruin it with a silver board? Instead, you can include your board in your design. Make it an extension of your cake. It’s an opportunity to expand and compliment your design. And while we’re at it, it’s great to finish everything with a coordinating piece of ribbon for that final finishing touch.
So, here’s a few essentials you need to know:
There are several different typed of cake boards. All can be bought from a cake supply store. There are the newer MDF cake boards. These are already covered and come in lots of different colours and a variety of sizes and depths. These are often a little more expensive but will not need to be covered.
If you are looking for good quality MDF cake boards, I can recommend LissieLou. They have a great range both with and without central holes.
Then you have the boards that are covered in food grade foil. These are usually cheaper. Some of these also come in different colours, but they are all covered in foil.
Silver cake boards or boards covered in food grade foil come in 3 thicknesses.
The thinnest is cut cards or cake cards. These will either be covered in silver foil or be coated in a non-stick food safe coating. These are used by professionals between tiers on a 2 or more tiered cakes, if the cake tier isn't too heavy. They are also sometimes used under a cake that will eventually be transferred to a heavier cake drum. It’s the cheapest but weakest board and allows a cake to be handled and moved around with little mess.
The next is the 3 mm cake board. These are usually thick card coated in a food safe silver foil. If you buy your boards from a supermarket, this is usually what you get. Most professionals will use this thickness between tiers of larger tiered cakes. These are thicker than than the cut cards, but thin enough to be hidden under the cake.
You can even get 3mm Cake Cards with holes ready cut for centre dowels, which quite frankly is genius. Shop for cake cards with centre holes here.
Lastly, there is the cake drum. These are made from layers of card or wood pulp, or more recently I have seen a few made from foam core. They are covered in food safe foil. They are thicker, between 10-12mm and are what a many professionals use as a base board for their cake. The drum is always bigger than the cake or the bottom tier of a cake and is the one I’m talking about covering.
A foam core cake drum is usually lighter than the card pulp ones. However, the foam core boards are still very strong and can take several cake tiers on top of them.
What does ‘Covering’ mean?
Professionals, if they are not using a pre-covered MDF board will generally use a cake drum under the bottom tier of a tiered cake, or under single tier cakes. It will always be bigger than the cake, so the cake can be picked up and moved without the fear of damaging the actual cake. It’s this drum we want to ‘cover’.
When I say cover, I mean putting layer of fondant on it. Sometimes with buttercream cakes you may wish to spread a layer of buttercream on, and the same with ganache. However, I favour fondant icing as its smoother and neater.
How to Cover your Board
Time needed: 20 minutes
There are several ways to cover a Cake Board, but this is a 'one size fits all' method. You can use it as the basis for any design both on the cake and the board.
- Clean your board
First clean your board with alcohol, I usually use vodka on a bit of kitchen tissue to do this. Although boards are covered in food safe foil, you don’t know where they’ve been stored before you bought them. They may have been dropped on the floor, stored on the bottom shelves where dust gets kicked up, or even stored on dirty shelves. Just giving them a quick wipe with alcohol with get rid on any germs and is better for food safety.
Most people never eat the fondant on the board because most people don’t like fondant icing. But don’t rely on that. There is often that one person the loves fondant and will pick every bit off, so make sure your board is clean!
- Make it sticky
Then using either cooled boiled water or more vodka, put a very fine layer of water on the board – again I do this with kitchen towel. This is what the fondant icing will stick too.
- Roll the fondant
Roll out the fondant icing to about 2-3mm thick.
- Stick the fondant to the board
Lay the fondant over the board and using a smoothing tool, go over the fondant to ensure there are no air bubbles underneath.
- Tidy the edges
Using a sharp knife, held flat against the edge of the board, cut away any excess fondant.
Using a smoother, at a 45 degree angle, bevel the edges.
- Cut a hole for the cake
Then cut a hole on top where the base of the cake will sit. Make sure the hole is at least 1” smaller than the cake. I do this for 2 reasons, firstly it would be a waste of fondant to leave it there and secondly it allows you to stick the bottom of the cake directly to the board.
- Make the sides look neat
Lastly, finish the edge of your board with a colour coordinated ribbon stuck on with a glue stick or double-sided tape.
Tips and Tricks
If you have time, cover your board at least a day ahead. This will allow it to dry hard, making it easier to work with without damage. If you don’t remember and must do it at the same time as the cake, before putting the ribbon on, just pop the board in the oven for 10 minutes on the lowest setting. When you first remove it from the oven the fondant with be super soft, so be careful. As it cools it will become hard.
To give the edge of your board an extra smooth finish, use the smoothing tool at the 45 degree angle to bevel the very edge.
It's always a good idea to put sticky rubber feet on the underside of a cake drum. Boards can be tricky to pick up once there is a heavy cake on top. 3 or 4 well placed feet will make it easier to get your fingers underneath.
With a birthday or celebration cake, including your board into the design can add a whole new dimension to your overall design. Why should your design finish as soon as the cake hits the board?
Sometimes there just isn’t enough room for words that are needed on a cake – put them on the board.
Maybe you have a beautiful cascade of flowers, let them flow across the board for a more spectacular look.
Maybe your cake is a colour, make the board the same colour to extend the look. Add extra details, such as a road running around a car themed cake, flowers, and grass on a gardening theme cake etc.
Do you have several toppers and elements that need to go on your cake? Rather than cramming everything on the top and making it look cluttered and the details get lost, put some of them on the board to allow everything to have the room to get the attention it deserves.
Make the board textured or imprinted to compliment your design. You can use texture mats or a textured rolling pin to make 3d effects, such as woodgrain and brickwork. Knitting and fabrics are also textures I’ve used in the past to finish a cake design.
Once you start to include your board in your cake design, there really will be no stopping you.
Watch my video tutorial on YouTube.
You can also find the video on YouTube here.