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5 Tips for Beginning Cake Decorators

The right tools are essential for successful cake decorating.
The right tools are essential for successful cake decorating.
Brian Leatart/Getty Images

Learning how to decorate a cake can be a daunting task, but just a few simple tricks can make the process go much smoother. The most important thing to remember is that preparation and practice are what will yield the greatest success. Cake decorating does not require a master’s degree, but it does require patience so don’t rush it. Armed with just a few simple techniques and a bit of practice time, it won’t be long before decorating that next sweet treat will be a piece of cake!

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Just like it’s impossible to build a house without a hammer and nails, it’s incredibly difficult to decorate a cake without the proper tools. A basket weave icing tip isn’t going to easily make flowers on a cake nor is a leaf tip going to make a star. The proper tips and icing bags are must-have items to purchase before embarking on a cake decorating project.

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Before the icing hits the cake, there are a few things that can be done to ensure that the cake will start off in the right direction. Most cakes will have a bit of a rounded top when they come out of the oven and leveling the cake layers will ensure that they lay flat on top of each other. When applying the icing, apply it liberally using a bag with large icing tip or apply it with a spatula. Smooth it out using the spatula but without letting it drag across the actual cake where it may drag crumbs into the frosting mix to get a great base coat of frosting on the cake before beginning the more fanciful decorations.

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When just starting out, it’s important to begin with a simple design. A simple border around a cake, a few rosettes, or a ruffle design are enough on their own so don’t design an elaborate cake with basket weave sides, flowers and leaves on top, and other accents throughout that may be hard to put into place all at once. Being able to focus on a simple design will allow the time to become competent at a few simple techniques and to complete the cake in a timely manner.

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Before taking the frosting or icing tip to the cake practice using the tools on another surface such as a plate to get a feel for how the icing comes out of the bag and to see how the pattern of the icing can be manipulated with the twist of the wrist or another alteration.

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One of the easiest ways to create an imperfection in the design of a cake is to run out of icing due to a lack of pressure or end up with a glob of it where it isn’t meant to be because of too much pressure. Practice pressure control before starting to decorate the cake and always try taking breaks or adjusting the pressure when at the end of decorative element rather than in the middle of doing it.

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