Monday, June 2, 2014

Tutorial: How to add pearls or dragees to a cake (not the one by one way)

I had this wedding cake last weekend, and I started wondering the easiest and faster way to add these. Honestly Thinking about adding these one by ones, was not in my plans at all !!! I decided I wanted to try to make it work for me and for the time i could work on a cake. I am really bad about making cakes that are too time consuming.  I tried few ways and this is what I encounter: white chocolate got dry way too fast and dragees kept on falling off, corn syrup never actually dried off !!! so i decided to try using Royal Icing !!! and it worked!!! 

 What do you need: 

  • Draguees or Perlized sugar pearls, I got them here
  • Royal icing, following the 20 seconds rule, I follow Sugarbelle Rule 
  • Off set Small spatula 
  • Large and deep container, not too deep or it will be hard too hard to reach your cake, not too flat or all your draguees will be jumping everywhere 
  • small bowl to place your cake on top of it 
  • Pipping bag and round tip #2 or #3
  Cakes are heavy, thinking about rolling this cake on a pile of pearls was a total no no !!! Real cakes are heavy, soft and hard to move. There was no way from me to roll the cake on the draguees, specially these tapered cakes for this wedding cake, where each one is 8" tall !!! 

 For these cake I decided to go with a combination of different size draguees. Their metric size is measure in mm and I got 3mm, 4mm,5mm and 6 mm with are the larger on first picture.  I also added  some perlized sugar pearls in Ivory, so it will give it a little more vintage look on the group of pearls. 
At this moment you are wonder : How much should I get? for covering an entire 10"x 4"cake, you would expend all these jars. If you are looking to cover  many cakes, then the best option will be buying in bulk. 
For this particular cake, I used 2 jars of 3mm draguees and half jar of the rest sizes.  The draguee that covers and adhere the best is the 3mm one. 

You will not need much Royal Icing, at least not for a project like this one. In case you are looking to cover the entire cake, then you might be need 2 or 3 cups Royal icing.  Consistency is important, i used the consistency I usually use for decorating  my cookies, you don't want it too runny but neither too thick. A Perfect Consistency , will help the draguees stay in place and  dry not too fast but not too slowly. To liquid consistency, might make the draguues to fall off your cake and loose their color. I will ask for the 20 second rule or the medium stiff consistency.

I used this container That I loooove, honestly I use them for everything : from keeping my fondant cutouts to use later on a cake, to cupcake holder to transport them, they are perfect because they have lid, these were a great buy !!!!  I also use a small upside down bowl, like an ice cream bowl , to place the cake on top. the idea is to lift the cake form the bottom of the container. Remember My cakes always have a board under each tier. I understand some recipes are dense enough and bakers don't need to add any board under any tier, so for this project, consider to add a cake drum, cake board etc to each tier or you will have a massive disaster. ALso this is the time to open each draguee jar and pour them on the container, carefully or all the jumping draguess will be everywhere, except your container !!!

Now, place the cake on top, as you can see the bowl is big enough to hold the cake, you might need to use different bowls depending on the diameter of your cakes. 

The way I wanted the draguees to be placed on the cake, were more in a whimsical way, so I really did not need it to be totally perfect. I made some waves, not all over the cake, this is a little by little process so you can have everything under control: if you add it all over, it might get dry before you are able to reach the othe side. I put   Royal Icing on about 4 " each time. If you are looking to cover the entire cake, put Royal Icing  form up to bottom, like following an imaginary stripe on the cake  Once you add the Royal Icing, get ready to work in a faster pace, or it will get dry and draguees will not stick to it. 

TIP: consider  coloring  your Royal Icing if your cake has different color than white. 

With really dry hands, grab a bunch of the draguees and stick them to your cake, as easy as that, be careful not to push too hard and get you cake off the bowl. Remember not to keep the draguees for to long on your hand, specially if your hands tent to sweat: humidity  wipes the sparkly color off the draguees. Continue doing this process until you cover all the Royal Icing you spread over the cake. I prefer to go by sections and look for imperfections, sometimes you will need to add the draguees several times, but they truly add really easy. 

Once I finished that section, I saw many irregularities that I do not like at all. Now you will need to fix this. As I said, I prefer to work on each section at a time, and don't go to next section until I am happy with the result.

Where ever I found irregularities, I used the piping bag with some Royal Icing, this way I can specifically add draguees where I need to cover a empty or irregular space. For this part you will have to add draguees one by one, making sure, if draguees are different sizes, that you try a little bit to get the right one that better fills the space you are trying to fix.

Once you are done with that section, move on tho the next one until you cover oll the surface you are looking to cover. Let your cake dry before stacking. Get ready to miss some spots, to have draguees everywhere jumping away from you like crazy, and some other loose on your board. Once I set the cake on the board and stacked it, I used the manual vacuum to get rid of some of the loose one.

I hope it also works for you!!! Cakey  loove, Joly


  1. I will have to use this! I love dragees but they can be such a pain sometimes, especially if you have to add a lot of them (like you did with this cake). This cake turned out to be absolutely stunning!

    1. Thinking about adding these one by one gave me goose bumps !!! lol

  2. Thanks so much for this, your cake is amazing ! Xx

  3. thanks...i have that in mind but u shown me the short cut....appreciate and thanks

  4. Such a fab idea, saves so much time x

  5. Gracias, por todos tus aportes.

    Gracias. por todos tus aportes e ideas ingeniosas.

  6. very nice! you can also use piping gel (clear) with a spatula. I works wonders!!

  7. Wonderful description and a great problem solver!

  8. Thanks so much for going frame by frame...makes it easier ....I love it

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