Cake Decorating Instructions

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Many different frosting tips were used for this cake.

Decorating a cake may seem intimidating, but cake decorating instructions are available to help, and frosting a cake is accessible for bakers of all ability levels. Few items bring more joy to people than homemade cakes, and even if you can't decorate in the same way a professional can, it's fun to decorate your own cakes and share them with others.

With cake-decorating tips and instructions from specialty-cake equipment manufacturers such as Wilton, any home baker can enjoy choosing from many different options to decorate a cake.

Preparation Tips

Before you begin to decorate, prepare your cake.

  1. Place it on a platter or flat surface with wax paper underneath to protect the bottom of the cake and the platter.
  2. Lightly brush off any crumbs on the outside of the cake (chilling for a few minutes can help with this step).
  3. If you'd like, level the top of the cake with a long serrated knife or a cake leveler.
  4. Using a flat spatula, spread a thin layer of icing over the whole cake.
  5. Chill the cake for a few minutes until the icing firms.
  6. Frost the rest of the cake normally.

Buttercream Cake Decorating Instructions

Buttercream frosting is the most popular topping for cakes. It's easy to whip up a simple buttercream in just a few minutes, or you could try making a batch of a more complicated, smoother frosting such as Swiss, Italian or French buttercream.

Buttercream holds up well in most environments but can start to melt if it's exposed to too much heat or humidity. Leftover frosted cakes with buttercream can be stored in the refrigerator.

A versatile choice, buttercream can be spread directly onto a cake with a flat spatula or piped on with a pastry bag. If you don't have specialty equipment for decorating cakes, you can still make simple designs and patterns on a frosted cake by using these cake-decorating instructions.

  1. Create a pastry bag by using a gallon-sized Ziploc bag or rolling a piece of parchment paper into a cone shape and taping it together.
  2. Fold or roll back the ends of your makeshift pastry bag to the outside.
  3. Using a big spoon or a spatula, carefully fill the bag halfway with frosting. (If you fill it more than halfway, it has a greater chance of breaking under strain.)
  4. Roll the ends of the bag back up and squeeze them together, trying to remove air from the bag and push frosting down to the tip.
  5. Snip the tip off the Ziploc bag or parchment-paper cone.
  6. Gently squeeze frosting to the tip and pipe the cake. You can decorate in a swirl pattern, form dots along the edge of the cake, or write a message in icing.

Decorating with Frosting Tips

Using frosting tips can make your cakes look polished and professional. Designs that are difficult to make with Ziploc bags and parchment paper, such as rosettes, flowers, and stars, are easy to make with frosting tips. Tips can also help you form more elaborate decorations like roses.

It's best to use frosting tips with a coupler and a sturdy pastry bag. Try piping around the edge of the cake to make a border or piping a pattern directly on the cake.

Decorating with Fondant

Fondant is a thick sugar paste that firms up quickly and can be used to cover entire cakes or form small decorations that can be placed on top of cakes with a dab of buttercream or water.

Fondant is too thick to pipe. Instead, mold and color it by hand. You can also use cookie cutters or stencils to cut out fondant patterns and apply them directly to a cake.

A cake decorated with frosting and sprinkles.

Cake Toppers and Other Decorations

If you're pressed for time or want a very simple way to decorate a cake, cake toppers, glitter, sprinkles, fresh flowers, and similar items look great and take only a few seconds to apply. You can also use cookies and snacks such as pretzels, fresh or dried fruit, chips, coconut, or citrus zest to improve the look of a plain cake.

Rather than finding cake decorating instructions for these cake designs, simply do what you think will look good on the cake.

Cake Decorating Instructions