Add Beauty and Elegance with the Brush Embroidery Technique

February 10th, 2011 by Mary Gavenda

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner – a time for sweet thoughts, treats and delicate lacy valentines. OK, many of us will never receive those lacy ones, probably comical ones these days, if any at all. But we can still dream of those from days gone by. Now keep those sweet thoughts and turn them into special ways to embellish your cakes, cookies or maybe a candy heart plaque.

Brush Embroidery Technique The delicate brush embroidery design is a great way to dress up your treats. It is an elegant and very simple way to create an intricate looking special treat. You’ll be surprised how easy it is, but it’s also very impressive and intimidating to those who don’t know how to achieve it on their creations.

You can keep it simple to start, using one color. A white design on a white fondant cake would be suitable for a very elegant occasion such as Valentine’s Day or even a wedding cake! By piping a light colored or white design on a colored or even dark chocolate cake or cookie, you’ll create a more dramatic statement with your creation. If you’re up for the challenge, try a more detailed design, using several colors.

Let’s get started…it’s easy to start with soft royal icing on a fondant covered plaque or cake, or even a color-flowed cookie if you’re starting simple. Thin down one cup of royal icing using piping gel (approximately 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons). It should be a soft consistency but still be able to hold shape-keeping dimension and fine lines, not really runny. On your prepared surface (fondant or color-flowed is the easiest to start with), mark your design. It’s easy to use a flower cookie cutter, Flower Cut-Out™ or any shape you choose. Imprint the cutter on fresh fondant or take a toothpick and trace/score it into the surface. You could use Fine Tip Edible FoodWriters™ as long as the color won’t show through the icing. If you can freehand a design, that’s fantastic.

Work with a small bag, usually I cut my parchment triangle in half to make a small bag. Use a tip 2 or 3 for outlining. Tip 3 will give you a thicker line of icing which might be needed for larger, more open designs and it’s easier to use when first starting out. You’ll also need a flat tip brush, small container of water and a paper towel. (OK, I use a shot glass for this part. It’s weighted, so it won’t tip over when in use and just the right size.)

Put a small amount of icing in the parchment bag with tip 2 or 3. Work with one petal at a time. Pipe an outline around the outside petal and with a damp brush, pull the icing toward the center. Be careful not to brush through the whole width of the icing line. Leave a little icing on the outside edge. If by chance you do cut through it and lose the outline, re-pipe a little icing. No one will know!

Continue piping and pulling the icing toward the center. Always work from the outside of a design toward the center. Always wipe any icing residue from the brush, keeping the bristles clean and just damp for each petal pulling.

To embellish your designs once they have set, try brushing it with Pearl Dust™ or paint it with Pearl Dust and clear vanilla.

Hearts’ Desired Embroidered Cupcake You can also use this technique on buttercream cakes once the icing has set and is dry to the touch. You can use thinned buttercream the same way. And if you are into chocolate plaques, try it using various colored melted candy. If your melted candy is a little thick, thin it down with a little solid vegetable shortening.

The Hearts’ Desired Embroidered Cupcake, Lacy Ornament Duet Cookies and Romantic Roses and Lace Cake are decorated with the Embroidery technique.

Brush embroidery makes a beautiful presentation for someone very special. No one special, do it for yourself! See how easy it is and what a good feeling you’ll have when you know…YOU CAN DO IT!

Happy Valentine’s Day. I hope you make a special treat for someone special and don’t forget…

YOU Are SOMEONE Special! So you can make it for yourself too!

Mary Gavenda Mary is a Senior Cake Decorator at Wilton. She started her cake decorating career as one of the first Wilton Method teachers in the Chicago area, teaching at various Sears, Montgomery Wards and JCPenney stores and earned her place in the Wilton Hall of Fame. As a cake decorator in the Decorating Room, she creates the cakes for photography used on new labels and packaging and in all Wilton publications. Mary also teaches the Introduction to Gum Paste Class at The Wilton School. Mary is a member of The International Cake Exploration Societé (ICES), an organization promoting the art of food and cake decorating throughout the world. She has served as Illinois State Representative, Past ICES Vice President and Corresponding Secretary during her 3-year term on the ICES Board of Directors. She is still active in the organization.

25 Replies

  1. Trendy Bride says:

    This is a great instructional video. I really enjoyed learning how I can do brush embroidery. I would love to see a bride do some of these and place them on display at her wedding. These are so easy to do and really cute !

    • Mary Gavenda says:

      The White on White Brush Embroidery is a very elegant touch at a wedding event.Why not make a sample up and keep it to show your future brides.

  2. I have never thought to decorate my cookies with a brush. These are going to help get my cookies looking much better. I really like sugar cookies and I haven’t been able to decorate them all that nice. With this effect I should be able to get a higher quality decoration.

  3. Apex says:

    Great video on brush embroidery designs.

  4. Suzi says:

    Hi Mary!
    It’s so nice to see you again. I took your gum paste class in Chicago last winter. You were my favorite teacher!

    Thanks for the refresher on the brush embroidery.. as always, you make it look easy.

    Thanks again,

    • Mary Gavenda says:

      You never know where I’ll pop up next!
      Thanks for the compliment and hope you stll enjoy making gum paste flowers!

      mary 🙂

  5. Lauralee Hensley says:

    I loved this video, it was easy to see and understand what you were doing. It looks like something I will be trying very soon. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  6. Nance says:

    This was Great. I do embroidery, so it was nice to see it done on an eatable item, and made the cookie look wonderful. Thank you for showing us how to do it. Nance

  7. Cakewhiz says:

    Oh my! The possibilities….i can’t wait to try out this technique on a bunch of things! Thanks 🙂

  8. Mary Gavenda says:

    Thaks everyone, glad you liked it. Hope you all have fun with it. It is a very simple technique, adding dimension and elegance to your projects.

  9. Lotta says:

    O my goodnes. Never thought it is that easy. Thank you so much

  10. Mary Gavenda says:

    So now don’t be afraid to try this technique on your next project!
    It is that easy! and don’t panic if you make a mistake, just wipe or scrape it off and do it again. No one will ever know, except you!

  11. ANA says:

    muy bonita tecnica, me gusto mucho en el corazon en fondo rojo y el delineado en blanco

  12. anuruddika says:

    great! thanks for your new ideas. my kids can enjoy their cookies with this new decoration

  13. Mary Gavenda says:

    Hi Paula ( Vanilla Bean Baker)
    Nice job on your Brush Embroidery cookies!
    As for which way you hold your brush,whether full width or on the side, either way will work. It will just depend on what effect you are tryingto achieve, whether you want to create more strokes-use the side, or if you want to feather out your icing more for more of shading effect, use the full width. They will both work and give you just a different look.
    As for thinning down your icing, you thin it down so it pulls easily and thins out. The icing will be thicker than Color Flow or some decorators refer to this as run sugar. It should have body but not be stiff, a softer consistency.
    Keep up the beautiful work you are creating.

  14. Ellen M. says:

    I highly appreciate this Tips.

  15. Kelly says:

    Can you do brush embroidery on a buttercream iced cake? What would you do differently than on the royal icing cookie or on fondant?

    • Mary Gavenda says:

      I’m so sorry for not addressing your question sooner. My apologies. It was not intentional just an oversight.

      You can do brush embroidery on a buttercream cake if your buttercream icing crusts over. If it stays soft to the touch, it wouldn’t be practical as you’ve be brushing that icing also.
      For brushing on your buttercream cake, allow the icing to crust over-air dry. It might take an hour or so. You could chill it also.
      Then using thinned down icing- starting with stiff to medium consistency and thin down with 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of piping gel. continue working as stated above..
      So sorry again for late reply….thought I had responsed previously.

  16. […] I used the white icing to decorate my big pink hearts by using a technique which I had seen at the Wilton website and wanted to try it ever since. Now seemed the time right time, so why not? It actually […]

  17. I really appreciate your tips on the embroidery. Can you share some tips on machine embroidery. Please I want to make creative and unique design machine embroidery, and I am very much confused.

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