Painting with lustre on cakes has been on trend for a while. Lustre is a powder which shimmers when mixed with alcohol and is available in a range of colours (gold, silver, champagne, white, copper). It can really take a simple cake and transform it into a glamorous cake. A cake painted with lustre can be complemented with fresh flowers or sugar flowers. Last year, I wrote a tutorial for one of my fave magazines on working with lustre and fondant stripes - Sweet Magazine! The article was featured in the magazine and my cake made the back cover! The image above was taken by the lovely team at Sweet! If you would love to learn how to re-create the cake in the pic then this blog post is for you!
I started with 2 cakes covered in fondant. For this design, I covered my cakes in black and white. The white cake will be covered with a super shiny super gold lustre and the black cake will have black and white stripes added to it.
Lustres are mixed with cake decorator’s rose spirit. If this is not easy to come by then you can use vodka but bear in mind the alcohol content is not as high in vodka so it might take longer to dry in between painting each coat.
You will need a bowl to mix your lustre and spirit/alcohol and a wet brush and dry brush. I use wide pastry brushes available from cake decorating supply shops.
Mix the lustre powder and spirit/alcohol until you have a very runny mixture. You will need to act very quickly or the alcohol will evaporate and you will be left with powder.
TIP: It’s best to let your covered cake sit for a day so it’s not too soft to touch.
Brush the runny mixture of lustre and alcohol onto the cake using your wet brush. Start with the top and then the sides. It’s easiest to work very quickly on a turntable in a round motion so that you work the entire cake. Then using the dry brush (which will never be dipped in alcohol) brush off the excess alcohol in the same motion. I usually do 3 coats depending on the colour I want to achieve.
The first coat will be quite light and a little streaky but this is usually corrected in the next 2 or 3 coats. Watch out for splatter – best to put an old sheet down and wear an apron.
Let the cake dry before you add any other decorations such as flowers or ribbons.
Working with stripes
Stripes can be a little time consuming so set aside an hour or so. Again, it’s best to work with a cake that was covered the day before so you don’t dent it with your fingers as you work.
For this design, I need black and white stripes. Roll out the fondant quite thinly and run through a pasta machine. I run it through each setting up to number 3 on the pasta machine. If you do not have a pasta machine you will need to roll out your fondant to around 1mm or 1/2mm if possible.
You will need to cut your stripes to the correct width and length. For this design, my stripes are 2cm wide and 10cm long. I use a knife and ruler to cut out my stripes but if you have a fancy ribbon cutter that works well too.
As you cut your stripes keep them under a heat meat or acetate sheet (or even one of those thin plastic folders you buy from officeworks - just be sure to clean it first). You should have enough black and white stripes to cover the entire cake (I needed 30).
Lightly brush your cake with water. It should not be too damp or your stripes will be too soggy and your dark colours may bleed into the white. If you have added too much water (ie you see water drips), then pat your cake dry with a paper towel.
Choose which part will be the front of your cake and start adding the first stripes. Make sure they are straight. You can use a 90 degree angle ruler but I just look at the cake from a few different angles to make sure I am happy with it.
Work on either side of the first stripe and keep adding stripes until you get to the back.
You may have a few lengths that are a little longer than needed. Carefully trim these stripes with a very sharp knife or scissors. Smooth over each stripe and on the top so you have a nice even cake with each stripe stuck down perfectly.
First image credit: Sweet Magazine for December 2015 issue.