Learn the Secrets of Professional Cake Decorating

There's no better way to cap off a special meal than with a delicious and beautifully decorated cake. While many of us enjoy a trip to the local bakery for a fancy treat, incredible outcomes are well within your reach when working from home. With some practice and the right equipment (which, we're willing to bet, you already have in your kitchen), anyone can master the art of cake decorating.

Make your favorite layer cake recipe, because we're about to ice some layers.

The Art of Cake Decoration

Basic Twirls

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Do you feel like whipping out the icing bag and piping bag for a show-stopping cake? Don't jump to conclusions The back of a spoon is all you need to create a beautiful swirl pattern in your cake.

Simply frost the outside and top of your cake in layers. Once that's done, use the back of a spoon to create a fun texture all over the cake by making a series of small swirls.


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Do you want to stretch your creative muscles? To decorate, you'll need a piping bag and frosting tips. You can make a wide variety of decorative effects by using a variety of piping tips.

Make patterns like flowers, leaves, stars, and basketweave weaves by switching out the tips. You can use piped motifs as an accent or decorate the entire cake.

Drip Cakes

Courtneyrich005 Featured image courtesy of Trina Harris

For some reason, we have an insatiable appetite for imperfection in our finishes. Who knows, maybe that's why drip cakes are so popular. This method of embellishment is shockingly easy to implement.

First, use a bench scraper (a cake decorator's secret weapon) to frost your cake and smooth out any rough spots. Then, melt some chocolate or baking chips to create a ganache. The above confetti cake is made with baking chips, whipped topping, and food coloring.

After the ganache has cooled, you can drizzle it over your dessert. Push the ganache to the cake's edges with the back of a spoon, and then wait for it to slowly drip down the sides to form tempting chocolate drips.

Plain Old Cakes

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Creating a naked cake is the current trend in cake decoration. Naked cakes, despite the name, are still frosted, but the frosting is spread very thinly so that the cake layers are visible. For a taste of what's to come, try one of these teaser cakes.

Naked cakes are made by omitting the frosting between the cake layers. Apply the frosting thinly for the exterior coating, and then use a bench scraper to remove any excess. Just like frosting a cake, all you're doing is adding crumbs to the edges. That's how easy it is

Even though this style of cake decorating is relatively simple, it's important to give your cake a final touch at the very top to make it look polished. A dash of sweetness can be added with fruit, crushed candy, or sprinkles. Take a cue from this chocolate malt cake recipe.

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The beautiful handwriting of professional cake decorators is one reason why people enjoy purchasing cakes from bakeries. However, you can easily do this at home. All you need is a piping bag, a fine piping tip, a toothpick, and some time.

Put the finishing touches on your cake by reading it aloud and reciting the message or printing out the motif you want to be featured on top. If you're just starting out with piping, it's a good idea to practice on some parchment or waxed paper so you can get a feel for the frosting as it comes out of the piping bag.

When you're satisfied with your design, transfer it to a piece of parchment or waxed paper by tracing it. To create a dot-to-dot of your message, prick the design with a toothpick or sharp skewer. When you're done, carefully peel back the paper and join the dots with your piped frosting. That's all you need for decorating a cake. And after you've baked a few times, you'll be able to do it without measuring!

And There Were Even More Sprinkles

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Sprinkles and other bright decorations are a safe bet for birthday cakes and other celebratory desserts. Sprinkles and edible decorations are great for adding a subtle touch of decoration to baked goods, or they can be used in tandem with other methods of embellishment. Don't limit yourself to just sprinkles; other tempting additions include nuts, coconut, candy, and cookie crumbles. You can use them individually or together to make your cakes stand out.

Cake-Decorating Equipment

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There are a few essential cake-decorating implements every home should have in order to produce stunning baked goods. This list may seem daunting, but keep in mind that most of the items here cost $15 or less, allowing you to make beautiful cakes without breaking the bank. Our Test Kitchen has determined that the following equipment is indispensable:

  • When it comes to cake decorating, offset spatulas are a must-have kitchen tool. Frosting should be evenly distributed between cake layers, and large offset spatulas are ideal for this. The smaller offset spatulas are ideal for creating beautiful, even swirls on the outside of your cake.
  • You'll need a bench scraper to get a perfectly even and smooth finish on the outside of your cake. This tool is great for erasing blemishes. These cake combs have a bit of texture for those who like that.
  • Invest in piping bags and a variety of pastry tips if you plan on doing any elaborate decorating. Put your creative skills to work by using them as cake-topping letters or flower centers.
  • While a cake can be decorated directly on a serving plate, a turntable makes the process go more quickly. Cakes can be frosted evenly and with beautiful swirls by using this rotating tray.

For More Cake-Decorating Supplies, Click Here

Advice on Cake Decorations

Just Pick the Right Icing!

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While not all frostings can be used to fill and top cakes, the good news is that there is a wide variety to choose from. All types of buttercream (Italian, French, German, American, and flavored) can be used successfully for icing and decorating purposes. Cream cheese frosting and ermine frosting are two other options. What you're looking for is a frosting that is thick enough to support the cake's layers and adheres well to the cake's sides.

While decorating, whipped cream frosting and extremely thin frostings should be avoided.

Filling Pastry Bags

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While a zip-top bag will do in a pinch, real piping bags (either disposable or reusable pastry bags) are essential for professional-level cake decorating.

First, cut off the end of the pastry bag. Then press the desired tip firmly into the bottom and insert it. Fold the bag's end over the rim of the glass and place it inside a tall glass. Make use of a spatula to transfer your homemade frosting to the piping bag.

Once the bag is full, squeeze the frosting down into it and twist the top (the frosting should only come out of the tip, not the back end). Following the preparation of your bag, you can practice pressure and piping techniques on a scrap of waxed paper or a plate before tackling your cake.

Baked Goods: The Art of Leveling Cakes

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It's important to make sure each cake layer is perfectly flat and level before stacking them. There are two methods (or combinations of the two) that can be used to make perfectly even cake layers:

  • Cake strips allow you to measure for uniform cake layers before baking. To make this, you need only cake strips. Wrap these wet strips around your cake pans and put them in the oven. The moistened strips will promote more even baking and result in perfectly flat cakes.
  • When your cake has baked and cooled, use a serrated knife to level off the top. Go slow and get down on a knee to admire the cake. With this guide, you can make a clean slash.

To chill cake layers,

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Cakes are easier to frost when they're cold. Put the cake layers in the freezer for 30 minutes if you have the time. Put away in the fridge and proceed with stacking and freezing. There will be less crumbling because the cake will be firmer after being refrigerated.

And under no circumstances should a warm cake be frosted; doing so will result in a messy and unappealing mess.

Cake Icing Techniques

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Despite appearances, the crumb coat's intended function is to keep things neat rather than to cover up crumbs. The purpose of a crumb coat, or a thin layer of frosting applied to the outside of a cake, is to help contain crumbs that the cake may shed. Since this layer serves as a base, any subsequent embellishment you add will look more polished and professional.

Crumb coating a cake requires applying a thin layer of icing with an offset spatula. Don't forget the top and sides! Then, before proceeding with additional cake decoration, place the coated cake in the freezer for 15 to 30 minutes to firm up the coating.

Exactly How to Cut a Cake

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Once you've put in the time and effort to bake and frost a cake, you want every bite to look as good as the first.

Get a sharp knife and put it in hot water to cut the cake without smudging the frosting. Then, after wiping the blade clean, make a clean cut through the cake. Both the frosting and the knife's edge will become pliable as a result of the knife's heat (so, no serrated knife or cake cutter is required). A) It'll give you the prettiest possible slice Repeat this process of wiping the knife clean and slicing for each successive layer.

Release Date: April 16, 2021

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