Cake Decorating Tips: How-to videos for perfect cakes, right before your eyes.

I know you’re reading this post for our best cake decorating tips, and here’s the first one I have for you. Treat yourself, eat the cake.

Pizza and cake. I could truly eat pizza and cake every day of the year, and twice on Sundays. And given the choice between the two, I’m almost sure I’d take cake every time.

There’s just something about a moist, tender slice of cake full of rich flavor, with a bit of icing between the layers to cool your tongue with buttery silkiness.

Whether you’ve never made a cake from scratch before or you’re a long-time cake baker, we have some outstanding cake decorating tips to share with you. Join  King Arthur Flour baking instructor Melanie Wanders, and over 2,000 fellow bakers (including me!)  in viewing our How to: cakes video series.

Break out the mixer, whip up a batch of our Golden Vanilla Cake and some Italian Buttercream. Then follow our cake decorating tips step-by-step – to the perfect cake.

Cake decorating tip #1: perfect sizing

First up, if you’re going to make a layer cake you’ll want nice even layers. Besides being the most accurate way to measure ingredients, your scale can be your best friend for evenly dividing batter and dough. Most of the mixer bowls in our test kitchen have their weights written on the bottom in grams, making the math easy when you calculate the batter weight.

Cake decorating tip #2: done to a turn

By now, the scent of baked cake is wafting through the air – which is the first indication that your cake is done. To really make sure your cake is baked completely though, you’ll see how to test with a toothpick, and how to check your cake’s edges for doneness.

Cake decorating tip #3: hassle-free handling

More than any other step, removing the cake from the pan can be the most intimidating and the most frustrating. We’ve all experienced the heartache of a stuck cake or a broken edge (thank goodness for trifle).

See how using cooking spray and parchment circles to prevent sticking, and how gentle handling will keep your cake (and you) from falling to pieces.

Cake decorating tip #4: Creating a crumb coat.

Once upon a time, I used to pick the crumbs out of my frosting with a toothpick, bit by bit. I’d never heard of a crumb coat, and if I had to choose the one cake-decorating tip that changed my cake world, it would be this one: frosting a cake without any unsightly crumbs. Learn to crumb-coat your cake, and you can put that toothpick through the olive in your martini, where it belongs.

Cake decorating tip #5: A smooth finish.

Achieving a smooth surface on cake can be the bane of many a baker, myself included. Too thick over here, too thin over there… But once you learn the secrets to where (and how) to spread your icing, and how to hold a straight edge, your cakes will have the perfect sleek, creamy surface.

Cake decorating tip #6: Using cake decorating tips and piping bags.

Piping bags and decorating tips are the hidden heroes of fancy decorated cakes. Whoever first decided to put icing in a bag and squeeze it out was truly thinking outside of the box – or bag, as it were. By adding a coupler, changing tips for a new design halfway through piping requires only a simple twist of the fingertips.

Cake decorating tip #7: Piping perfect swirls.

Once you’ve learned to fill a piping bag and added a few metal cake decorating tips to your stash, the array of decorations you can create on your cake is endless! Twist to the left, or twist to the right, lift and swirl – a simple movement of the wrist is all it takes to design the cake of your dreams.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our cake decorating tips videos. The entire series can be found, along with many other great videos on our site.  We’ve certainly enjoyed sharing them with you. Please do share your tips with us, too, in our comments section below.

MaryJane Robbins
About

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...

comments

  1. Dana

    OMG Maryjane. Pizza and cake. We must be kindred spirits as no other food groups are necessary in my opinion. My waistline (and good sense) forces me to eat others, but truly, if I knew I only had a year left to live, it’d be pizza and cake for every one of those last days.

    Reply
  2. Jen

    I first learned of a crumb coat from you guys. The first time I used it, OMG, my cake looked so good.

    Thanks for the tips

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins , post author

      Hi Cindy,
      Be sure that your icing isn’t too soft, so that the weight of the top layer doesn’t cause it to ooze over the sides. Also, spread the icing to about 1/4 to 1/2″ from the outer edge, giving the icing some space to “grow”. ~ MJ

  3. Marilyn Buel

    I have trouble getting my icing the right consistency for spreading. If I get it loose enough to spread, it’s too loose to hold a shape when I pipe it. Is this a problem everyone has? Do I need to make 2 different icings or can I find one consistency that works for icing and piping? Would it help to whip it more? I always make buttercream using real butter.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      It is best to find the consistency that works for filling, spreading and piping. All in one! It is difficult to give the best advice unless we know what kind of icing you are using. If you are using an icing such as the one shown in these video tips (either Swiss or Italian Meringue) than it is a matter of either slightly warming (if too stiff) or very briefly chill, if too loose. The only time I would recommend beating longer is if the buttercream has not emulsified yet into a homogeneous consistency. The temperature needs to be just right for this to happen though. You could be beating for 10 minutes and the buttercream will still look broken. Beating longer will not help! Just adding some heat will, though. The butter is probably too cool. If using an American Buttercream or frosting, adding more cream or milk will help to adjust the consistency if too stiff. If too loose, add more confectioners sugar. If you are needing some more guidance, please feel free to contact our Baker’s Hotline at 1-855-371-BAKE (Monday-Friday 7:00am-9:00pm EST, Saturday & Sunday 8:00am-5:00pm), and we’d be happy to provide you with further assistance at that time. Good luck and happy baking! Elisabeth@KAF

  4. Beth Mason

    Have you ever made a mirror cake? I made one following directions from the internet. The cake was beautiful but extremely sticky. I bumped my thumb against the glaze and it stuck. When I pulled my hand away the glaze, and the frosting underneath, pulled off the cake. It was a mess. The next day when I tried to cut the cake, the glaze was still sticky and just pull off again. Do you know if this is normal for this type of cake or did I do something wrong? I hope you can help me, I couldn’t find anything about this elsewhere.

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins , post author

      Hi Beth,
      I’ve never attempted a mirror cake, so I’m sorry I don’t have any tips to offer. I would suggest checking in over at Cakecentral.com. The forums there are an excellent resource, and I’ll bet someone will have info to share. Best of luck! ~ MJ

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