Cake Decoration 101: 9 Basic Cake Decorating Tips You Need To Know

I always wanted to be a skilled cake designer from the moment I found my love for food. However, it didn’t come to me very naturally. I decorated my sister’s wedding cake, and it was the worst decision ever in my life. I compensated her last year on her 6th anniversary by creating another cake. I’ve finally completed design courses and have a lot of experience now. 

From my experience, understanding the fundamentals may make all the difference. I’m going to share a few fundamental cakes decorating techniques with you today that I’ve picked up in my journey towards being a cake designer. 

1. You’ve to spend some money initially. 

This was the first time I learnt how to properly decorate a cake. When I first aspired to be a cake decorator, I spent a little money on a tip set and some icing bags.

However, it’s a good idea to spend some more money in the beginning if you’re serious about it. In my design classes, we were given a list of 26 items. But you don’t need that many things to start tbh! My recommended list would cost you a few hundred dollars only. 

The fundamentals, according to Topping Solutions, are:

  • Bag of pastries (fabric or disposables)
  • A spatula set
  • Coloured food
  • Cake stand with a turntable
  • Cutters 

2. You can make your own icing if you want to.

I don’t believe it’s fair of me to give away my class’s icing recipe since we paid for it, but I’ll tell you this was the toughest pill for me to swallow.

I am a firm believer in eating whole foods. However, we must utilise it to get our frosting to curve the way we want it and make lovely flowers. Why? Because butter is soft at room temperature and becomes much more so when touched. We’d end up with a melted mess!

So, swallow your pride and give this recipe a try, tweaking it as needed. You may get some excellent flavourings in the cake and confectionery aisles. I suggest that you bring additional powdered sugar to each session so that you could create a firm frosting and correctly make the flowers.

Also, if you’re using a stand mixer to create your icing, don’t go beyond number 4, or you’ll end up with too many air bubbles in your frosting. This isn’t good.

3. Overturn your cake. 

Before you finished your last cake, you were meant to apply a crumb coat, right? This is because you don’t want the crumbs to show through in the finished result.

Overturn your cake - decorative chocolate curls - Topping Solutions

Before I proceed any further, I strongly advise you to use a cake leveller. I was hesitant to buy it at first, but I’m happy I did in the end. The difference in how well it sliced into my cake astounded me.

Anyway, we’re left with crumbs after the cake is levelled. You are not if you flip it upside down! Huh! Who would have guessed?

4. Practice piping. 

It takes practice to make beautiful flowers and other forms using a piping bag and different tips. The same may be said with royal icing writing. Of course, nothing beats a hands-on cake decorating experience, but practising on wax paper instead of the cake is a wonderful way to get started.

Individual tiny flowers may be transferred from wax paper to the cake, but this will not work with edging or writing. Still, it’s a fantastic method to get some practice in till you master it.

5. Icing should be smoothed out.

A paper towel is a secret ingredient when it comes to smoothing off your icing.

The first step is to smooth it out as much as possible using your tiny offset spatula, then put it aside for a bit. When your cake is tacky to the touch, it’s time to smooth the icing out completely.

Simply smooth the icing over the non-patterned side of the cake with your icing smoother. You’ll have a wonderful, silky cake before you know it!

6. It probably isn’t tough enough.

This, I believe, is my greatest challenge. The frosting on my cake isn’t firm enough. Writing this article has made me want to go in the kitchen and practice (and I hope it has done the same for you!).

I just did it, and my frosting didn’t seem firm enough. So I went ahead and added some more. It’s still not firm enough. Nothing will stick if it isn’t – from the 3-dimensional flowers that make you scratch your head to the leaves – nothing will stay if it isn’t.

Purchase a large quantity of powdered sugar.

7. Practice will make you perfect. 

Practice, practice, and more practice. When I first began cake designing, I told you I had gone through many icing bags and cake boards.

I have the advantage of being in a culinary school, so I alternate between courses about baking my cake and who gets to eat it the following day (I decorate for now). They like it, and I enjoy it since it allows me to practice a simple cake without consuming it.

I also suggest that if you’re going to consume it, you don’t stick to the usual chocolate gems or vanilla flavours. Try different toppings for your practice. 

8. Is it better to write or not to write?

Surprisingly, this is one area where I am confident in my abilities.

I practised on the chocolate chip cookies whenever I could get away with it. I eventually became as excellent as, if not better than, the bakery workers. Whether you’re a left-hander or not, lol!

There is no shortcut other than practice when it comes to writing on your cake “HAPPY BIRTHDAY BOB”. My only suggestion is to hold it up high with your non-dominant hand and down low with your dominant hand to get the writing perfect. 

9. Last but not least, have fun.

I often joke with folks that I don’t have a life since I know there’s still so much I need to accomplish. I’m a graduate student, a teacher, and a Junior Class Sponsor (which means I raise money for prom… aka concession stands).

In addition, I am the sponsor of our school’s culinary competition team, I blog, and I am enrolled in a cake design program.

To summarise, I don’t have time for YouTube. I just have fun as much as I can, 

Final Thoughts 

My first attempt at cake decorating was a disaster. I didn’t devote the time and effort that I should have. Now that I’m a certified cake designer, I’m feeling more confident. I’m looking forward to being as creative in the baking department as I am in the culinary department. Nothing makes me happier than watching someone enjoy a gourmet masterpiece I created.If you’re in the same boat, I suggest enrolling in a class or doing some research and learning from those who are eager to share what they’ve learned. What’s most important? Have a good time and if you need anything for your topping, turn to Topping Solutions!