Tips-y Tuesdays: How to Decorate Cakes

This post is by far not done. I definitely am still in the beginning stages of learning to decorate cakes, but as I learn tips, I will share them here. It was great having my friend Lisa over to practice making cakes. We made a chocolate cake from the Miette cookbook, then used French buttercream to decorate both. Hers was beautiful:



Mine was a work in progress:

The flower on top was Lisa's handiwork!

The flower on top was Lisa’s handiwork!

I was super lucky to work with Lisa since she was away for a week learning how to make a ton of cakes. She has become quite the expert on desserts! We had fun using some different styles. After we made the cakes…


You will need to trim the cakes if they are not even to better frost them. These cakes were tricky because they were super soft. If we had had time, we would have frozen them to assist.



Having a turntable covered with wax paper on a cardboard circle, a large spatula, a small spatula, and a long serrated knife (like a bread knife) are all useful. We also had a small bowl to scrape the spatula off so that you do not get crumbs onto the final coating of frosting.

Speaking of the buttercream, the key for a French buttercream is lots of egg yolks.


And lots of mixing.


Seriously. Lots of mixing.



Then more mixing to add the butter.



It is supposed to get curdled like that before mixing into this fluffy amazingness…



You could use it like this…



Or be like me and add cookie butter to it…



Next is filling the middle with frosting, then doing a crumb coat.





Using the large spatula to swoop the frosting as you spin the turntable helps create straight edges.


I would have called this done, but Lisa is super professional.



She used a bench scraper to help smooth the edges.



Then she had fun with a decorating comb.



Sprinkles were a must!

Sprinkles were a must!

I also decided to add texture to my cookie butter one. I did scallops on the sides and Lisa gave me the idea to do a spiral for the top. Her pretty flour is on top.


Teamwork is very important!!

Teamwork is very important!!

You can make sprinkles at home, using Stella of Bravetart’s recipe.

I used Kahlua instead of chocolate liquor.

I used Kahlua instead of chocolate liquor.


Piping them out was a bit tricky.

Piping them out was a bit tricky.


K was confused because they had to dry out for a day.

K was confused because they had to dry out for a day.

It does look like an angry chocolate monster came through with claws.






Nope, sprinkles!

Nope, sprinkles!


Lots of sprinkles!!!

Lots of sprinkles!!!

When you cut a cake and have it look this perfect inside….it’s pretty great.


So, in conclusion, the major tips for cake decorating that I’ve learned so far…

  1. Take your time. Straightening and smoothing takes a while, and that’s ok.
  2. Make extra frosting just in case. I always need more than the recipe is supposed to make.
  3. Chilled cakes are easier to frost.
  4. Short spatulas can pretty much handle the full job unless you have a tall cake. Long spatulas are still handy if you have them.
  5. Bench scrapers are not just for scraping benches, but for smoothing cakes and making sprinkles!
  6. French buttercream is with yolks, Italian and Swiss Meringue are with egg whites and seem almost interchangeable.
  7. K’s coworkers love it when I practice cake decorating (it means cake for them at work).



11 thoughts on “Tips-y Tuesdays: How to Decorate Cakes

  1. What fun! Your cakes look great. As much as I love seeing a finished cake, all the up close concentration of decorating a cake always gets me a little dizzy and cross-eyed! I usually just slap on the chocolate and make some swirls. : )

  2. I heart this post! So much information – we had so much fun that day!

    I think we also learned that French Buttercream is very “heavy” compared to Italian and therefore difficult to do interesting dollop-shapes like with our scallop idea.

    Love making cakes with you 🙂

  3. Fantastic! I really like the step-by-step photography as well as the photo of the finished product. My mouth is watering!

  4. Supermom and I took the first course in the Wilton cake decorating method. It was a lot of fun! Seems like forever ago and when I pulled out my pastry bag the other day I had forgotten how best to hold it. I guess I need to practice more. The Husband will be pleased with that. At least as long as it’s chocolate cake I am decorating.

  5. Pingback: Topic-Changing Thursdays: San Diego | fudgingahead

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