As your production kicks back into high gear for the holiday season, it's a good time to revisit time-saving tips from Kasia Wilk at Lucks Food Decorating Company. If you start the season organized, you can save yourself time - and frustration - through it all.
1. Organize your work area. Have the most frequently used items within arms reach, or a step or two in either direction.
2. Work using a coupler in your pastry bags. Couplers will allow you to quickly change decorating tips and limit the number of pastry bags you need to have on your work table. Plus, it will limit cleanup later.
3. Aways purchase the same type of coupler. Then, you don't begin to get a number of couplers that do not have interchangeable collars. And to answer a frequently asked question, you cannot purchase the collars separately.
4. When you begin your workday, organize your production by grouping like cakes. If you need cakes for display and custom orders, produce similar cakes at the same time. If possible, do all your flat-icing first. Do white icing first, then chocolate, to minimize cleanup time.
5. Keep bowls of colors clean and organized. Mix only the colors you need in bowls that are convenient to clean and store. Mix lighter colors first, then darker colors, to minimize cleanup time.
6. For the deepest colors, mix Lucks liqua-gel color with buttercream icing. Buttercreams will intensify in color with age. Mixing buttercreams the day before they're used will allow you to use less color. But don't get carried away and let them sit so long they get old (if it smells bad, it is bad).
7. If you only have one or two cakes using the same color in a day, make your decorating bag out of disposable parchment triangles. This will minimize cleanup.
8. Teach as many staff as possible to write an inscription, and have one or two writing tubes made up at all times. Use edible pens and sheets of Edible Image Print-Ons for inexeperienced "writers" - they can easily write with an edible pen on an edible piece of paper placed on the cake.
9. Confetti-quins and decorettes and edible glitter all add extra color quickly and easily.
10. Remember to photograph the cakes of which you are especially proud - and that you enjoy doing. You can put them in next year's merchandising book. Just be sure it was one you enjoyed doing, because if people see it, they'll want to buy one!