Tips on Professional Cake Decorating

putting final touches on cake

Create Professional Looking Cakes

A lovely decorated cake doesn't have to come from a professional bakery. Someone with basic skills can create a professional looking cake by following just a few simple tips. Practice makes perfect, so try the tips out a few times before using them on your final cake.

cake cut into a number 4

Shaped Cake Design

Sculpting a cake into a design like a dragon or baseball glove requires a lot of practice and patience. However, you can still create a festive shaped cake that looks professional without needing special skills. Skip the 3D cake shape and instead cut a large layered sheet cake into your desired shape. Numbers, letters, and outlines of items like ships and castles are easy to cut and add a little extra "wow" to what would have otherwise been a plain rectangular cake.

covering cake with fondant

Frosting Base

A cake that looks professionally decorated will have a smooth, clean base for decorations. Uneven, lumpy or crudely frosted cakes will not have that professional quality, no matter how beautiful the design. When covering a cake in fondant, use a piece several inches larger than the cake itself. Smooth the fondant onto a crumb-coated cake and then cut the excess off just below the bottom edge of the cake.

If you're using buttercream, use a large spatula dipped in hot water. Place the cake on a turntable and slowly spin as you hold the spatula steady. Once the sides are smooth, use the spatula to finish the top.

design outline

Design Outline

Before you pick up a pastry bag filled with frosting, you should have a design in mind. Sketch it lightly into the frosting base using a toothpick and then outline with thinned buttercream or royal icing. Allow the outline to set before you begin decorating. This ensures your design will have clean edges. Use this method on round, square, or rectangle birthday cakes that will be decorated with a buttercream image.

buttercream star design

Buttercream Stars

Smoothing buttercream frosting within a design outline may produce an okay image, but it probably won't look too professional. Instead, attach a star tip to your pastry bag and carefully pipe stars into the design area. Each star should touch one another. Use a smaller tip for smaller spaces or to create a slightly different texture.

fondant butterfly cut outs

Fondant Cut Outs

If you are great with a pastry cutter or knife, you can create intricate fondant cut outs with ease. However, for professional-looking fondant images without needing artistic skills, use a cookie cutter. Each graphic will be the same size and have a clean edge.

icing drizzle design

Abstract Drizzle Designs

Amateur and at-home decorators can make a professional-looking cake by drizzling royal or thinned buttercream icing over a shiny ganache base. All you need is a basic design idea and a steady hand. Few people will know the difference between the original concept and a mistake when you make an abstract drizzle design.

buttercream rose

Master the Buttercream Rose

Buttercream roses can be part of almost any cake design, from birthday to wedding to retirement. Being able to create professional-looking roses is a must for almost any amateur who wants to create a professionally decorated cake. Slowly twirl the base on the flower nail instead of rotating your hand with the pastry bag for best results.

music cake image

Use Edible Images

More intricate designs can be hard for the amateur baker to create without a lot of practice. Instead of getting frustrated trying to make a difficult design, consider purchasing an edible image and then accenting the rest of the cake with your own fondant or buttercream designs. This is an excellent way to get an image onto a cake without hours of labor.

Superman cake using royal icing transfer

Royal Icing Transfers

Recreating a professional-looking cake with a detailed design or character can be difficult. Consider using a royal icing transfer instead of trying to sketch it. Sketch or trace an image onto wax paper and flip over. Then, outline the image with royal icing. Flood each space with the appropriate color. Wait for the transfer to dry. Carefully peel the wax paper off the back and affix to the cake.

Airbrush Stenciled Wedding Cake

Airbrush With Stencils

Wielding an airbrush gun takes practice and some natural artistic talent, but it can create a truly professional-looking cake design. If you want an airbrushed look on your cake but aren't comfortable free-handing the design, use a stencil.

Place the stencil on the cake, using just a little water or icing to affix. Then carefully fill in the stencil with the colors you desire. Once you finish, lift the stencil off and you'll have a beautiful design with minimal fuss.

detailed border

Detailed Border

An essential finishing touch on any cake is the border. Instead of making a simple shell or rope border, create a more detailed one that fits with the rest of the cake theme. If your cake has grass, flowers, or other small detail, incorporate it into the cake border.

Practice these tips on some different cake designs so you're ready to decorate your next birthday cake or special occasion cake with ease!

Was this page useful?
Tips on Professional Cake Decorating