There’s nothing quite as delightful as a well-dressed cake. If you’re thinking about giving your bakes a little extra magic with hand decorations, here are the items of cake decorating equipment for beginners you’ll need to get started.
This is by no means a definitive list as cake decorating and the tools you’ll require very much depend on the ambition of your designs. However, this basic list of kit is a great place to start if you’re looking to wow with your cake presentation.
Piping bag and nozzles
A reusable piping bag and nozzle set is a good investment for any baker as it allows you to hand-write piped icing onto your cakes, cupcakes and cookies. Cheesecakes are much harder to pipe onto as the surface isn’t dry, but it can be done right before serving if you wish to attempt it.
Top tip: if you’re a keen baker looking to try hand piping techniques, a good tip one of our top bakers shared is that she used to fill her piping bag with supermarket own-brand mayonnaise to practice her writing on sheets of baking paper. We must stress, this is for practising only! It’s cheaper than making up icing, doesn’t dry out and can be scraped back into the bag and used again for more practice.
Without a turntable, you are making your cake decoration a lot trickier.
A turntable allows complete access to all sides of the cake while covering it in fondant or frosting. This is particularly important if you are covering your cake in frosting as the turning action helps to give a smooth finish.
All our decorators use turntables to finish the cakes in our bakeries.
These are thin discs of cardboard covered in foil that sit beneath the cake on the turntable.
Not to be confused with cake drums, made of card and foam, which are the thicker bases used for presentation (often decorated and trimmed with ribbon).
We use these for our layer cakes. They provide essential stability and support the layers of sponge as you take the cake on and off the turntable.
Cake Soother or Icing Smoother
Glide rolled out fondant icing over your cake smoothly and seamlessly with a cake smoother.
If you’re decorating your cakes with buttercream frosting or cream cheese frosting, you can use this instead of a palette knife to cover the cake.
Top tip: cover your sponges thinly with a crumb coat layer and refrigerate for a short while before smothering with the rest of the frosting. This will stop your frosting from gathering crumbs and will give a smoother finish.
Angled or straight palette knife
We use palette knives to decorate our layer cakes with frosting. It is completely up to our bakers whether they prefer and angled (cranked) palette knife or a straight one.
Just like paint brushes, decorating brushes can be used for a variety of tasks.
The most important two are painting and dusting, so you can use edible food paints to give beautiful designs or finishing touches to your fondant work and the brushes can also be used to pick up edible lustres and glitters for dusting effects.
Top tip: load the brush with your desired edible lustre or glitter and use the index finger of your other hand to make a cross in front of the brush. Tap the handle of the brush against your other finger and this will allow you to dust with more precision.