When making a special occasion cake, a message is often the central focus of the cake. The message typically conveys the reason for the cake in the first place, such as a birthday, anniversary or graduation. Sometimes letters are used as part of a design, but don't form any words. Other letter uses include monograms and corporate logos. Regardless of the reason for using letters, it's important to make sure they look good.
Ways to Create Letters
Fondant letters do take a little more effort to make than simply handwriting a message or letter on a cake. Options for making the letters include:
- Cutters: Large cookie cutters and specialty fondant alphabet cutters help decorators create uniform letter styles. The cutters come in a variety of styles, from scripted letters to italicized block letters, and usually have both upper and lowercase letters available.
- Stencils: Stencils can be used in two ways on a fondant cake. The first way is to use individual letter stencils on a cake and airbrush food coloring over the letters to create your words. This may take some practice, and mistakes can be troublesome to correct. The second option is to use stencils to cut out letters from rolled fondant. While any errors are easy to fix, it is a more time consuming method of making letters in fondant.
- Freehand: Cutting letters freehand is a way to create a unique look on a cake. Having a hodgepodge of letter styles may fit perfectly into the design. However, if you are doing a sophisticated design for an important event, freehand letters are not a good choice for those new to working with fondant.
- Stamps: If you want to add letters to your cake but don't want to take the time to cut, mold, stencil, or freehand them, you do have another option. Alphabet stamps are available that, when pressed into fondant, will leave an impression. You can choose to leave the impression plain, cover with luster dust using a food safe paintbrush, or trace with royal icing or thinned fondant.
Practice is important in any method used for making the letters. Try rolling out some scraps of fondant and then using them to make letters before you begin with your actual cake project.
Adding Letters to Cake
Before you affix the letters to the cake, it's important to figure out where you're going to put them. This way, they are spaced evenly. Correcting placement after putting them on the cake might ruin the icing below the letters.
- Use a ruler to measure through the widest part of your cake; start from the inside of your border and any graphics so it is centered within the design.
- Measure the widest part of your largest letter.
- Divide the cake message space width by letter width; this is the maximum amount of space each letter can take up.
- Measure the cake's height from inside the border and any graphics.
- Measure the height of your tallest letter.
- Divide the height by the tallest letter to find out the maximum number of lines on your cake.
- When plotting your cake lettering, leave one to three letter spaces at the horizontal ends of the cake and one line at the top and bottom of the cake. Adjust measurements to leave 1/3 the letter size between lines as well.
- Plot the cake message on a piece of parchment paper cut to fit your cake's message area dimensions.
- Place the parchment paper lightly on top of the crusted buttercream or fondant frosting.
- Use a toothpick to make a light indent where the top center of each letter should be placed.
Adding the fondant letters to a cake is fairly simple if they are to lie flat. Brush the back of the letter with a little royal icing adhesive or even a touch of water and place the letter on the cake in the desired position.
For letters that need to stand up, it is important to add toothpicks, small dowels or cake wire to the back of the letter. This may require thicker fondant. Allow the letters to dry and harden before placing them in the cake. If the cake needs transportation, it may be best to wait until arriving at the destination before adding the standing letters.
Buy Letter Tools
Purchase fondant tools for lettering at a cake decorating specialty shop or at a kitchen supply store. Just a few options include:
- Old English Alphabet Mold: Sweetwise carries a set of Old English Letters in Tappit form for around $8. Watch the accompanying video for helpful tips on creating and releasing letters from the Tappit molds.
- ABC Mini Cookie Cutter Set: Small cookie cutters make excellent fondant tools. This set from Williams-Sonoma will create basic capital letters for around $13.
- Contemporary Monogram Stencils: Global Sugar Art carries a Designer Stencils set in a modern curlicue design for around $15. They would look great on a festive cake for any occasion.
Candi Font Uppercase Alphabet Clikstik: Windsor makes Clikstiks in a variety of shapes, including letters. Use the helpful backing to release the letters easily. Find this mold at Global Sugar Art for less than $20.
Wilton Letters and Numbers Set: Wilton is a trusted name in cake decorating, so pick up this fondant and gum paste mold set to make creating letters easy. The set retails at Amazon for around $25.
Cake Boss Letter and Alphabet Fondant Stamp Set: Walmart carries the popular Cake Boss decorating tools, including a stamp set for letters. It's an affordable option, priced right around $8.
Professional Looking Letters
Whether the letters are within a message or are added as part of the design, making them in fondant is a great way to lend a professional look to any cake for a special occasion. Choose the lettering option that works best for your cake and start writing.