Beginning Home Bakers: 6 Cake Decorating Tips

So you’ve decided to decorate a cake. It’s possible you’ve done it before, but it’s also possible you haven’t. In any case, you’re not an expert. Does it seem about right? Great! You’ve arrived to the correct location. For the starting home baker, we’ve put up this easy instruction that focuses on six key cake design skills.

Because this is a beginner’s tutorial, we won’t go over fondant icing because it’s beyond the scope of a starting cake decorator. Instead, we’ll concentrate on buttercream.

Other whipped frostings may be made using the same fundamental processes.

You’ll need the following tools:

  • A rotating cake turntable isn’t strictly necessary, but it will make your job much simpler.
  • For leveling and dividing layers, use a serrated cake or bread knife.
  • To apply frosting without dragging your fingers through it, use an offset palette knife.
  • Pastry bag with a few hints: Ziploc bags can be used, although they don’t work as well.
  • Smoothing icing and producing ornamental marks and patterns using a cake smoother/scraper.

1. Freeze Your Cakes
First and foremost, because baking and decorating a cake may be fairly time-consuming, it’s a good idea to divide the task into parts. Bake it on Monday, then freeze it until Friday, when you can take it out and decorate it.

It’s also easier to frost cakes if you bake them ahead of time and freeze them. When you frost frozen cakes, they don’t crumble as much, making it much simpler to apply your crumb coat (see below).

Similarly, flattening your cakes is simpler when they are frozen. The cakes can keep for up to a week in the freezer. Buttercream may be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to a week.

2. Use a Cake Turntable
A cake turntable is a spinning plate that is used to flip the cake while it is being leveled and frosted. Turning the cake instead of walking all the way around it makes the task much easier.

Splitting (also known as torting) your cakes is a more intermediate step that you’d take if you’re going to put filling between the layers. But, when you’re ready, you’ll also utilize your turntable for that.

3. Level Your Cakes
It’s crucial to level your cakes because the tops of the layers must be entirely flat; otherwise, they’ll tilt or wobble when stacked. This is where a serrated knife may help. Serrated cake knives are recommended, although any serrated bread knife would suffice. 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 rotating the cake on the turntable with a sawing motion. Don’t worry about the bottoms; they should be flat already from the cake pans’ bottoms.

You may even turn your cakes over so that the bottoms are facing up. However, make sure they’re leveled so the bottoms don’t shake. Also, don’t forget to consume the scraps.

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 rotating the cake on the turntable with a sawing motion. Don’t worry about the bottoms; they should be flat already from the cake pans’ bottoms.

You may even turn your cakes over so that the bottoms are facing up. However, make sure they’re leveled so the bottoms don’t shake. Also, don’t forget to consume the scraps.

4. Apply a Crumb Coat
The next step is to frost the cake, which begins with a crumb coat application. A crumb coat is a light, initial application of frosting that seals and suspends any crumbs so that when the final coat is applied, there are no crumbs visible in the icing.

If you’re constructing a layer cake, set the bottom layer on your turntable, spread a layer of frosting on it, and then top it with the top layer (bottom side up).

After applying the crumb coat over the whole cake, refrigerate it for 15 to 30 minutes. Before applying the final coat of frosting, allow the crumb coat to fully set.

5. Applying the Frosting
Place the completed layers on the turntable and spread a dollop of frosting across the top with your palette knife while rotating the cake. Next, work on the sides. To keep things cool, it’s essential to work rapidly. This may not be achievable if you’re still learning. So take a pause between preparing the top and the sides, and put the cake in the fridge while you do so.

A cake smoother (also known as a cake scraper or a decorating comb) is a flat metal tool having one serrated edge and one flat edge. It will yield a sharper result than a palette knife (although a palette knife will do a fine job). Run the edge of a smoother down the sides of the cake while turning it in the other way to utilize it.

6. Practice Piping
It takes practice to make ornamental flowers and other forms with a piping bag and numerous tips. The same may be said with royal icing writing. Of course, nothing beats hands-on cake decorating experience, but practicing on wax paper instead of the cake is a terrific way to get started.

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

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