There are a lot of cake decorating tips out there. Every baker gets confused about which cake decorating tips to use. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered!
So you've decided to decorate your cake. It's likely you've done it before, but it's also possible you haven't. In any case, you're not an expert. Does that sound about right? Cake decorating tips are one of the most important tools for any baker. The tips encompass icing techniques, pastry making, and cake décor ideas.
There are numerous tips out there that can teach you how to decorate a cake beautifully. You can make swirls, use colorful frosting, improve your piping game, and make crumbles to make your cake stand out.
You can magically create different décor effects with your cake and the frosting with only a handful of these tips. For example, you can adjust the look of your borders simply by changing the angle, pressure, and movement of the tip.
For a starting home baker, we've put up this easy guide to help you figure out which cake decorating tips to use.
Cake Decorating Tips
First and foremost, since baking and decorating a cake may be fairly time-consuming, it's a good idea to divide the task into parts. For instance, start by baking it on Monday, freeze it until Wednesday, and then take it out and decorate it.
It's also more convenient to frost a cake if you bake it ahead of time and freeze them. Frosted cakes are less prone to crumbling, making it easier to apply your crumb coat. Similarly, frozen cakes are much easier to flatten. The cakes will stay for up to a week in the freezer. You can make butter cream beforehand and keep it in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week.
Use a Turntable
A cake turntable is a rotating plate that is used to spin the cake while it is being frosted and leveled. Using a turntable makes the task of decorating a cake simpler because you won’t have to walk around in circles all day to decorate it. Splitting your cakes is an intermediate step that you should take if you want to put filling between the layers. You can also use your turntable for the task once you’re ready.
Level the Cake
Leveling your cakes is important because the top layers must be completely flat to prevent them from wobbling or leaning over when stacked. This is where a ragged knife comes in handy. Serrated cake knives are suggested, although any ragged bread knife would be sufficient. Simply make sure your knife's blade is longer than the circumference of the cake.
The idea is to cut off any dome-like tops on the cake and make it completely flat. Instead of trying to drive the blade through the cake, start it at the edge and maintain it level while spinning the cake on the turntable. Don't worry about the bottoms; they should be flat already from the cake pans' bottoms. You can even turn your cakes over so that the bottoms are facing up, but you must ensure that they're leveled so the bottoms don't shake and don't forget to consume the scraps.
Use Crumb Coat
The next stage in the process is to frost the cake. This step starts with the application of a crumb coat. A crumb coating is a light, initial layer of frosting that seals and prevents any crumbs from moving in the icing when the final coat is applied.
Set the bottom layer on your turntable, apply a layer of frosting on it, and then cover it with the top part while keeping the base side up if you're making a layer cake. Chill the cake for 10 to 15 minutes after spreading the crumb coat to the entire surface. Let the crumb coat fully set before applying the final application of frosting.
Place the finished layers on the platter and use your palette knife to apply a dab of frosting throughout the top while spinning the cake. Work on the edges next. It's best to work quickly to keep things cool. If you're still learning, this may not be possible. So take a break between making the top and sides of the cake and put it in the cooler while you do so.
A cake smoother is a flat metal instrument with one jagged blade and one flat edge, often known as a decorative comb or a cake scraper. It will create a more precise outcome than a palette knife, yet a palette knife should suffice.
Making decorative blossoms and other forms with a pastry bag takes a lot of practice and a lot of tips. We know nothing beats getting your hands dirty with cake decorating, but practicing on wax paper rather than the cake is a great way to get started. Individual flowers can be placed on the cake using wax paper; however, edging and writing will not work. Nonetheless, it's a good way to get some practice in until you master it.
Practice makes perfect when it comes to cake piping techniques. If you're a beginner, practice on a sheet of wax paper first. You'll be able to assess how much and how quickly the icing comes out of the bag this way, rather than dumping half of it all over your cake! This advice might also help you figure out which designs you favor. As previously mentioned, there are a profusion of online instructional cake decorating videos that demonstrate a variety of piping techniques and much more.
If you’re not so good at holding a piping bag or if you don’t have one, consider adding swirls to your cake with just the back of a spoon. Simply layer your icing on the outsides and top of your cake and make small swirl shapes with the back of a spoon until the entire cake is covered in a beautiful texture.
Cakes with Drip
We have an insatiable need for absolutely imperfect finishes. Maybe that's why we're so fond of drip cakes! This is a fairly simple decorative technique. To begin, use a bench scraper to frost your cake and give it a smooth finish. Then, using chocolate or baking chips make a ganache.
Spoon the ganache over the top of your cake after it has cooled slightly. Push the ganache to the edges of the cake with the back of your spoon and watch it slowly drip down the sides to produce delicious chocolate drips.
Make a naked cake if you want to be on style when it comes to cake design. Naked cakes have frosting, but it's used thinly to allow the cake layers to show through. These cakes give you a sneak peek at what's on the inside.
To make a cake with thin frosting, build your cake as usual, but with no frosting between layers. Apply a thin layer of frosting to the outside of the cake, and then use a bench scraper to remove any excess icing. Basically, you're merely crumb covering the cake's sides. That's all there is to it!
While this form of cake decorating is rather simple, don't forget to add a final flourish to the top of your cake to make it look finished. The finishing touch can be fruit, crushed candy, or sprinkles.
There are a few decorating equipment you'll need in your kitchen to make beautiful cakes. Don't be intimidated by this list; the majority of the supplies are around $15, allowing you to make beautiful cakes on a budget.
Use Simple Decorations
Since the icing is the star of your cake, it's best to keep cake toppers and other decorations simple. Piping guidelines will assist you in creating lovely edges or patterns on the cake. Sprinkles, birthday cake toppers, party candles, and other items can be used to enhance the appearance of your cake with little or no effort.
Fondant with Marshmallows
Have you decided to cover your birthday cake in fondant rather than icing? Don't worry if you run out of fondant or can't get it to lay flat on the cake. All you pretty much need is a couple of ordinary materials to make your own pastry fondant:
- Powdered sugar
You can add to your existing dough to make more or prepare fondant to make a texture that is easier to apply on the cake.
Crumble and Level
The most difficult component of making your own birthday cake is getting the fondant or icing to look as flawless as it does in professional bakeries. Try the level and crumble coat method to achieve this. The crumble coat functions as a "glue" to keep moisture in while providing an even surface. To begin, spread a thin layer of frosting over the cake, thin enough to see through, and smooth it out as best you can. Allow that thin layer to dry. Continue frosting the cake as usual once it has dried. The layer keeps crumbs out of the final decorations and icing while enabling you to slither the frosting across the exterior. This approach is particularly useful for individuals who want to solidify their cake prior to decorating it.
About THE AUTHOR
Lori has been a Culinary Arts instructor for twenty years. She has taught in the public school setting, at the collegiate level and through adult continuing education as well as running several cooking and baking camps for children. She has participated in several cooking, cake & chocolate contests and has been well recognized. She has raised thousands of dollars for charities using the byline “Saving the World one Cupcake at a Time”. Additionally, she has had several articles regarding food published in various magazines.Read More About Lori Gilmore