It's 70+ degrees in Los Angeles in February, and though I hardly get nostalgic for the hypothermic winters of my Midwestern childhood, I do miss the beauty of winter's natural patterns. This snowflake cake stencil (for use with powdered sugar) is evocative of snow, making it one of my favorite festive desserts. Yes, you can purchase culinary stencils, but I had fun designing and cutting my own snowflake -- all in the time it took for the cake to bake. Give it a whirl for yourself, below:
an X-acto knife
self-healing cutting mat
80# card stock (such as 12" x 12" scrapbook paper)
springform cake pan (I prefer 9")
your favorite chocolate cake recipe
Before you bake your cake, trace the interior of the springform circle, then sketch your snowflake pattern within its boundaries. Here, I've enlarged one of my place card embellishment designs (the smaller orange cutout on the top right).
Next, place the sketched design atop a cutting mat and carefully trim out the shapes with an X-acto knife. If you are new to craft knives, you may want to read my cutting tips. Either trim the circle out along the circle circumference, or for a more filigreed design, cut a 1/4" border outside each petal silhouette, rendering you with the stencil below:
After your chocolate cake has cooled completely, remove the springform ring, place one hand beneath the cake pan base and carefully flip the cake onto a cake plate or stand such that the bottom side is up. Most baked cakes are slightly domed on the top, so the bottom provides a flat, firm, even surface for the sugar to rest upon.
Lay the stencil atop the cake, pour about 1/4 cup confectioners sugar into a fine mesh sieve, and give a practice shake away from the cake to get a feel for how much sugar is dispensed with each shake. (You may even want to practice on a cutting board without the cake once or twice.) When you're feeling confident, begin lightly dusting the sugar over the cake top and stencil until the cake surface is coated with sugar. Avoid shaking on too much, or the sugar will pile and slide, marring the crispness of the lines.
Carefully grasp two ends of the stencil and lift, taking care to keep the paper as horizontal as possible so the sugar atop the stencil doesn't fall onto the cake. Once you get past stage fright, it's fun to do this at the table where you're sure to get oohs and aahs as you lift the stencil off and the design materializes.
Voila! With careful storage and cleaning, the stencil will give you several uses. If you like this project, consider trying my brownie stencil tutorial, too.
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