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Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Sotas Technique

I'm pretty sure the only way to mess up the sotas technique is to not be random enough. It has a few similarities to cornelli lace, but the main difference is you can (and should) allow the continuous piped string to cross over itself (the piped line in cornelli lace comes close but never touches). Be sure your icing is thin enough to flow easily out of the bag, and fit the bag with a round #1 or #2 tip (I used a #2).
 It's always a good idea to get a feel for any new technique on a practice board first (even though it's practically impossible to make a mistake piping sotas). Hold the tip just above the surface, and keep moving; make loops, curlicues, infinity signs, etc.; allow the icing to run wild. If you see any wide open spaces, you can probably cheat a little and pipe more loops in any areas that need filling in (just make sure the ends of the string aren't obvious).
 Nilla Wafers, of course, are also a good practice surface. Much yummier than the above board.
 I had a hemisphere-shaped cake pop left over from my last batch; I thought I might make some sort of basket with it. The sotas technique reminds me a little of those freeform kudzu baskets (not traditional basketweave; Google search kudzu basket and you'll see what I mean). Start piping where the pop meets the stick and work your way outward (if you really are going for the kudzu look, you'll want to use light brown icing).
 Stick flowers, leaves, etc. on with a dab of royal icing to finish off the basket. One last word on sotas: your hands will thank you if you don't fill the bag very full. Ideally, the icing will be almost thin enough to pour out, but you definitely don't want to strain your hands squeezing while you're trying to focus on making your random loops. When you squeeze, it tends to make the loopy string look a little less organic; the icing tends to spurt out in different thicknesses and directions that look almost like a mistake. With so much of cake decorating being all about precision, sotas is truly a relief!

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