Cake decorating began in the mid-17th century around the same time that sugar was explored and cake pans became a common sight in the domestic kitchens of Northeastern Europe. The introduction of temperature-controlled ovens in the 1840s also made baking more convenient and even more popular.
Around 1929, cake decorating classes opened up for entrepreneur chefs, caterers and other gourmands. Joseph Lambeth also released the book “The Lambeth Method of Cake Decoration and Practical Pastries” which instantly became a hit and popularized The Lambeth Method, now considered an old-school technique for cake decorating.
Techniques and skills are not the only things needed for cake decorating. Among the top of the list should be the essential cake decorating tools. Without them, this art and hobby can be daunting and overwhelming.
Table of Contents
- Piping Bags
- Piping Bag Coupler
- Cake Turntable
- Fondant Cutters
- Fondant Rolling Pin
- Icing Bottle Set
- Offset Spatula
- Cake Scraper
- Fondant Smoother
- Cake Stand
- Pastry Brush
- Cutting Mat
- Gum Paste Tools
- Ribbon Cutter
- Fondant Impression Mats
- Airbrush Set
- Frosting Gun
- Chocolate Stencil Kit
- Fondant Rolling Pin Guide
- Cake Leveler
- Fondant Flower Drying Rack
- Cake Slicer
Piping bags are imperative if you are going to be decorating your cake with frosting. While you can easily use a spatula to add frosting to the outside of your cake and ensure a smooth surface, if you want to decorate with flowers or shell patterns, then it’s important to have piping bags because they make this easy. You can buy piping bags that are disposable or ones that can be washed and reused. When using a piping bag, you will need to insert a piping tip in the right size and shape so that the frosting will be easy to control.
Frosting bag tips come in many different sizes, styles, and are made from various materials. Metal frosting tips are the most popular because they will last for a long time, even though they are a little bit more expensive than plastic ones.
When you use a plastic frosting tip, you will generally throw it away and not try to wash it for use again in the future. The size and shape of the hole in your frosting tip will determine what kind of pattern you are able to create out of your frosting and how much frosting comes out at once. Some tips have very small holes that are ideal for completing fine detail work, while others have large holes, making it easy to create large flowers or designs quickly.
Piping Bag Coupler
When you are going to be using a piping bag with a piping tip, then you need to make sure that you have a coupler. Trying to use a piping bag and tip without a coupler will generally result in the tip getting turned to the side and popping out or frosting trying to squeeze by the sides of the tip itself. Couplers have two parts, one will fit inside the bag with the tip, and the other screws onto the outside of the piping bag to make sure that the tip stays firmly in place while in use.
Being able to turn your cake quickly when you are decorating it makes it significantly easier to decorate without having to stop and manually turn the cake plate. When you buy a turntable you can use one hand to smoothly turn the cake and decorate with the other so that you can enjoy a continuous stream of frosting without having any break in your flow. This also makes it easy to turn your cake when you want to look at the other side and ensure that you are happy with the design that you have made so far.
Fondant is a great way to decorate your cake, and, if you want to make sure that you have perfectly shaped fondant when decorating, then it is a good idea to opt for fondant cutters. These are very similar to cookie cutters, but they have a few main differences. Fondant cutters generally have more detail on them than cookie cutters do, and they are generally more solidly made so that they aren’t flimsy when cutting through fondant.
Regular fondant cutters are used like cookie cutters. Plunger fondant cutters have a plunger that you can press down not only to emboss your cutout with a design, but it will also help to release your fondant.
Fondant Rolling Pin
You can either opt for a fondant rolling pin that will imprint images on the fondant while you are rolling it out, or you can choose one that will create a smooth and flat surface. You want to make sure that your fondant rolling pin is comfortable for you to hold and has a smooth surface free of nicks or cracks so that you don’t have to worry about these imperfections showing up on your fondant, as this can lower the final quality of your finished cake.
Regular spatulas are not ideal for decorating a cake, but they are necessary to scrap frosting out of your mixing bowl and pour it into your piping bags. Without a spatula that is easy to use and very flexible, you will struggle with getting all of your frosting out of the bowl. They are also ideal for mixing up frosting and ensuring that any color you choose is fully incorporated throughout.
Icing Bottle Set
Icing bottles are a great way to add detail to your cake if you are uncomfortable using a piping bag or worried about your piping skills. There are some icing bottles that you can attach different decorating tips to using a coupler, and so these are going to be significantly more useful and customizable than ones that only have a hole. When you use an icing bottle, you will want to make sure that you keep the hole covered when not in use so that your frosting doesn’t dry out. In addition, make sure that you wash them out completely in between colors so that you don’t have any unintended color transfer.
An offset spatula is an important tool used for decorating a cake, and it makes it possible to quickly and easily smooth the frosting on the sides of your cake without hassle. Unlike regular spatulas that are often made of silicone or rubber, offset spatulas are firm and generally made of metal. This ensures that you can apply as much pressure as necessary to remove excess frosting from your cake. They can also be used to pick up frosting and move it to a new location, and they are perfect for lifting piped flowers into place when decorating.
A cake scraper can have many uses, depending on the style that you buy and how you use it. If you want to make sure that the sides and top of your cake are perfectly smooth, then you will want to choose a cake scraper that has a flat side.
You can then easily run the scraper around the side of the cake to smooth out your frosting and ensure that there aren’t any lumps or dips. Other cake scrapers are textured, and using one of these will instantly add visual interest to your cake with very little work on your part. Rather than trying to meticulously pipe lines or swirls on the sides of your cake, when you use a cake scraper you can finish this is in a matter of minutes.
You simply have to hold the cake scraper parallel to the cake and then turn the cake on the turntable, allowing the scraper to remove some of the frosting as you go.
A fondant smoother is a plastic tool that will make it easier for you to completely cover your cake professionally with fondant. Without the use of a smoother it can be very difficult to get the fondant smooth and even, and you may have wrinkles and cracks on the surface. A fondant smoother makes it very easy to also press the fondant up against the cake to ensure that it has adhered correctly and completely to the frosting. Otherwise, it will tend to peel away from the cake, and you can be left with a mess and gaps between the fondant and the fondant smoother.
To ensure that you can display your cake in an attractive way, you will want to make sure that you have an attractive cake stand. These are usually circular and have plenty of surface area for you to place your cake without worrying about it hanging off of the edge. They generally have a foot so that the top of the cake stand is lifted up into the air to display your cake.
Make sure that you choose a cake stand that has a smooth surface on top so that you don’t have to worry about your cake bending or cracking when you have it on display. It’s easy to find cake stands in a number of different colors and styles so that they match the décor of your event.
A pastry brush isn’t just useful for buttering the pans in which you are going to be baking your cake, but it can also be useful when you are decorating. Use a pastry brush when you need to remove extra icing sugar from your fondant for a clean look. As long as you are gentle when brushing with a pastry brush, you won’t accidentally damage or mark the fondant. You can also use these brushes to help spread edible glitter across the surface of your cake so that it is evenly distributed. Without a pastry brush it can be difficult to spread glitter without it clumping in certain areas.
Cutting your fondant on a cutting mat is a much better option than trying to do so on your counter, as you won’t have to worry about your fondant sticking to the mat the same that it will to the counter. When you use a cutting mat you can also quickly and easily move your fondant to a new location in the kitchen or even put it in the refrigerator.
This is useful if you are cutting out intricate designs and want them to firm up a little before trying to use them to decorate your cake. When choosing a cutting mat, you will want to find one large enough to spread out and roll out a large sheet of fondant, but not so big that you can’t easily put it in the refrigerator if necessary.
Gum Paste Tools
Gum paste tools are designed to help you use gum paste to make flowers and other shapes. They consist of a few different types of tools that you will want to have when decorating your cake to make working with gum paste as easy as possible. Petal cutters are ideal for cutting uniform flower petals or leaves, while a veining tool or ball tool make it easy to spread out the leaves and petals and give them a natural look.
The ball tool can be used to ruffle the edges of the gum paste so that it looks textured. Generally, you will want to wash your gum paste tools by hand so that they do not get damaged in the dishwasher.
If you want to be able to cut fondant into even ribbons without a lot of stress and frustration then you will need to invest in a quality ribbon cutter. These are tools that resemble paint rollers, but they are much smaller and can easily cut your fondant into even strips. Once you have rolled out your fondant and ensured that it is even and level, then it is easy to gently press the fondant cutter into the fondant and roll it along. You can easily choose from a variety of widths as well as decorative edges so that the ribbons of fondant you cut will be even and attractive.
A fondant extruder is useful if you want to decorate your cakes with fondant or gum paste, but you do not want to have to roll out long strings of fondant or gum paste to work with. There are a number of different discs that you can use with your extruder, and each one will have holes that are a different size so that you can control what your fondant or gum paste looks like.
An extruder makes it easy to make hay for a farm scene, tassels on a graduation cap, grass for a football field, or even hair. They are significantly faster and easier than trying to roll out lots of small pieces of fondant or gum paste by hand.
Fondant Impression Mats
A fondant mat will come with various designs and patterns on it that will then transfer to your fondant when you roll it out on the mat and press it onto the surface. They are generally made from flexible plastic that is easy to work with. When looking for fondant impression mats, you will want to consider the design that it will make on your fondant, as well as the size of the mat itself, so that you can be sure that it will be easy to use.
An airbrush is a fast and easy way to apply color to your cake without having to tint your frosting or your fondant. There are a few different types of airbrushes that you can choose from, so you want to make sure that you choose one that is both easy to use and reliable. When using an airbrush, it is common to use stencils with it, as this will allow you to easily create designs on your cake without worrying about drawing or piping them on yourself. You will need to make sure that you buy food colors that will work with your airbrush and that you clean it well after each use so that it does not get damaged.
If you are not comfortable using a piping bag, but you still want to be able to decorate your cakes, then you may want to consider a frosting gun. These are very easy to fill with frosting and come with a number of tips and couples so that you can easily change the design of the frosting that you pipe.
It’s a good idea to look for one that can go in the dishwasher to prevent you from struggling with getting it clean, as you do want to remove any last bits of frosting before changing colors. Because you use a plunger to push frosting out of the tips, these guns are typically easier for people to handle, especially if they have arthritis or other pain in their hands.
Chocolate Stencil Kit
Using chocolate is a great way to decorate your cake, but if you have difficulty free handing designs, then you will want to opt for a stencil kit. This will allow you to easily trace designs with melted chocolate, but remove the stress that you feel of having to be able to perfectly control your chocolate on your own. Look for a kit that offers a number of different designs for you to trace so that you can enjoy fancy decorations on your cakes.
Fondant Rolling Pin Guide
It can be very difficult to get fondant rolled out to an even thickness, no matter how long you have been decorating cakes. Using rolling pin guides is a wonderful way to make it easy to ensure that your fondant does not vary in how thick it is. These guides slip onto the ends of your rolling pin and prevent you from accidentally pushing down too hard when you are rolling out fondant.
To ensure that your cake layers are perfectly even, you will want to invest a cake leveler. It is very hard to decorate a cake if the layers have a domed top, and it’s almost impossible to remove that dome and create an even and flat top using just a knife.
When you buy a cake leveler, you can easily and quickly cut off the domes from your cakes so that they will rest flat against each other, and you won’t have to worry about them wobbling or sliding off when you have stacked them. It’s important to buy a cake leveler that has a sharp cutting surface so that you don’t accidentally rip part of your cake when trying to remove the dome from the top.
Being able to evenly shake icing sugar over your fondant will make it easy for you to roll it out without it sticking to your mat, countertop, or rolling pin. Unfortunately, trying to dump icing sugar on your fondant by hand often results in uneven coverage. It’s best to use a shaker or dispenser that will allow you to evenly coat your fondant without worrying about putting too much in one area. You can also use a dispenser to evenly shake glitter onto your cakes.
Fondant Flower Drying Rack
If you make flowers out of fondant or gum paste to use in decorating your cakes, then you know that if they are allowed to dry flat on the table, they will not look as natural as ones that have some curve to them. Using a drying rack will allow you to produce natural-looking flowers without worrying about how you are going to prop them up to dry. These racks also have holes to allow you to hang flowers from them if you want them to dry with their petals held in a different position.
Being able to split your cakes into even layers ensures that when the final cake is cut, the end result will be attractive. It is almost impossible to cut your cake into even layers by hand, but a cake slicer makes it easy to separate your cakes evenly, no matter how thick or thin you want your layers to be. This is a collar that fits around your cake and allows you to use a sharp knife to cut through your cake to separate it into the desired layers. Make sure to use a sharp knife and allow your cake to cool completely before cutting for best results.