Coral Aquarium Cake Tutorial by CakeBoss
How to make a coral for an ocean cake or aquarium cake
Skill Level: Beginner
This tutorial demonstrates how to make realistic coral for cake decorations out of grape stems and royal icing. This is a
great technique because not only is it very easy, but it doesn't require you to buy specialty ingredients or mess around
with boiling sugar or isomalt. Grape stems are ideal because they are inexpensive, non-toxic, and they provide a frame that
mimics the organic, random shapes of coral.
Piping bags with round tips.
Gel colors (optional)
Luster or pearl dust (optional).
Step 1: Eat some grapes
You'll want to acquire some grape stems of various sizes. This technique is slightly more effective if
you let them dry for a day or two so they don't bend while you're working with them, but it's not necessary.
Grape stems that have been dried for 1-2 days.
Step 2: Making royal icing
Start by making royal icing. Royal icing
is simply powdered sugar, meringue powder, and water. It increases in
volume as it's whipped. When it dries, it becomes almost rock-hard, and because of this, it is useful in hundreds
of ways in the sugar arts. As with most things, it's best made in a stand mixer.
Royal icing as it looks when you start whipping.
Royal icing after 8 minutes in the mixer.
Stiff royal icing ready for use.
Step 3: Applying icing to the grape stems
Today I'm making orange, yellow, and white coral, but the color possibilities are
endless! Coral exists in all kinds of brilliant colors - yellow, orange, blue, purple, fuchsia, white.
The sky's the limit as far as your color selection.
Round tips anywhere from size 5-8 are good for this job.
Begin using your piping bag to apply icing to the stem. We're not going for full coverage, just cover as much
as you can before it gets goopy and hard to hold.
When you've covered as much as you can, stop piping and let the stems dry for several hours or overnight.
You want the icing to become hard enough so that you can pick it up without it smudging.
You can cover the tips of your piping bags with wet paper towels to keep them from getting hard and crusty
while you wait. *A note about letting royal icing sit: after a few hours it starts to take on an almost
marshmallowy consistency, with air bubbles throughout. Under normal circumstances, you would always re-whip
royal icing before you use it. But for coral, the air bubbles actually enhance the look, so I just leave it
in the bag and use it as-is.
Step 4: Final coverage of royal icing
After the first layer of royal icing has dried hard enough so that you can pick up
the stems without smudging or breaking it, you're going to go back over the stem with your piping tip,
piping over all the spots that you missed the first time. There is no science to the placement of the
icing! Coral is organic, weird, bumpy, and random - so your grape stem coral can be, too!
Step 5 (optional): Luster or pearl dust
I happen to be of the opinion that there isn't much that can't be made better with a little pearl
or luster dust, so after the second coat of royal icing dries, I dust my coral with matching dust - in this case, Gold Pearl for the white
and orange, and basic yellow luster dust for the yellow corals. (The brush is a cosmetics brush that
I use exclusively for decorating.
That's it! This coral is destined for this cute and whimsical ocean cake.
Let's get a close-up of that coral.
This easy cake is covered in fondant. The fishes on top are styrafoaom balls (from the craft store)
covered in fondant. All the fishes on the sides of the cake are fondant. The seaweed is royal icing,
the shells are fondant pressed into candy molds, then dusted with luster dust, and the sand is brown sugar.