Have you ever walked past that bakery window and seen the beyond-spectacular cakes? You probably think that these cake designers go through years and years of pastry school and practicing in many bakeries to master the art of cake decorating.
Sometimes this is true, but you can make beautiful cakes right at home with the right tools! Using cake decorating equipment enables even the most amateur baker to create stunning cakes. No need to be jealous of those bakeries!
Before diving into the world of cake decorating, see what it takes to make a basic cake from scratch.
The Basic Tools Needed to Decorate Cakes
Perhaps the most obvious tool when it comes to cake making, piping tips (along with pastry bags) are essential to creating a sharp, beautiful pattern to the frosting of the cake.
With a variety of tips comes many ways to design your cake. Swirls? Scalloped edges? Piped words? A piping tip does it all. Piping tips are relatively cheap, so if you’re new to piping, we recommend starting with a piping set.
A set will allow you to experiment and figure out which tips work the best for your specific needs.
How to use:
To use a piping tip, insert the tip into a pastry bag, cut the tip of the pastry bag so that the piping tip can almost (but not completely) fit through. Using a spatula, put the frosting into the piping bag and gently apply pressure to push the frosting out of the bag.
Depending on what pattern you want, you can either hold the tip in place or move it slightly to create different patterns.
Benefits to using a piping tip:
- Easy to use.
- You can create many patterns with different tips.
- Looks fancy and professional when used to decorate a cake.
Drawbacks to using a piping tip:
- To use different tips, you have to constantly change piping bags.
- If the frosting is too thick or too thin, it won’t come out of the tip properly.
- It can be hard to get the right amount of frosting out- if too much pressure is applied, the frosting might come out in lumps, too little and there won’t be enough frosting piped onto the cake and you’ll have to start over.
If you don’t have one of these, you really should get one. Unlike a regular spatula, an icing spatula is specifically designed to smooth icing on cakes. It has an angled metal part that is perfect for making the outside of the cake look smooth and sharp.
There are all sorts of icing spatulas available, but a basic one will do just fine.
How to use:
Angling the spatula away from you, move around the cake applying a constant pressure to the frosting to ensure it moves the frosting evenly. Using several strokes, brush the top of the cake to smooth the top layer of frosting.
- It gives the cake smooth edges and a finished look.
- You can use it to sharpen edges or smooth frosting.
- It’s hard to angle it correctly to create a smooth look.
- If not angled correctly it can make frosting look odd or even strip away frosting.
Rotating Cake Stand (Lazy Susan)
This tool is definitely handy when it comes to cake decorating. It’s a mini table that turns, allowing you to smooth the frosting evenly without having to awkwardly move the cake.
How to use:
Rotate the cake stand as you smooth the frosting or frost the cake to create an even layer of frosting.
Benefits to using a rotating cake stand:
- Lets you make an even and smooth layer of frosting.
- Easy to use- all you do is spin it! No moving the cake inch by inch to cover it with frosting.
Drawbacks to using a rotating cake stand:
- Can be a waste of money- you don’t really need it, but it is helpful.
- You need a separate platter with the cake and then have to put that on the rotating cake stand or else you won’t be able to remove the cake from the cake stand.
This may seem simple, but food coloring is essential when it comes to cake decorating. Who wants just a white cake? Having colors make a cake look fancy and desirable.
We recommend starting with a set of colors, which will give you plenty of options to choose from.
How to use:
Be careful, because food coloring can be strong. Start with a little bit in your frosting, mix, and then determine whether or not you need more.
Benefits of using food coloring:
- You can make your cakes vibrant and beautiful.
- Food coloring lasts a long time and can be used for many things- making fondant, coloring frosting, or even writing on the cake.
- You can make a lot of different colors- by ordering sets with unique colors, mixing colors, or adding different amounts of colors you can make some pretty cool shades.
Drawbacks of using food coloring:
- Too much food coloring can make a frosting look gross.
- Sometimes food coloring can change the consistency of the frosting or the cake.
- It can get messy to use.
With all of these tools, cake decorating can be simple! Soon enough, you’ll find yourself making bakery-style cakes.
If you’d like to learn about some additional cake decorating tools and what they’re used for, check out our previous post about cake decorating tools.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.