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We all love a tender, moist, scrumptious cake, whether for a wedding, birthday, or just an afternoon at the nearby coffee shop — a slice of cake makes a special day more memorable, and an ordinary day a whole lot brighter.
However, the magic isn’t just in the perfect taste. It’s spiced up even more by the cake decoration.
Although professional bakers (and passionate home bakers, even!) make the baking and decorating process look so easy, most of the time, the skill of baking works more wonders when you have the right set of cake decorating tools to work with.
I learned how to decorate cakes many years ago when I was in grad school. I took a couple classes and slowly built up my stash of cake decorating tools.
Each item I added made the whole process easier and more fun. I’ve now had most of my cake decorating supplies for well over a decade — and I still use them.
So I thought I’d give you a glimpse of the most common cake decoration tools that will help you spice up your next cake!
Must-Have Cake Decorating Accessories & Tools
Cake Pans in Different Sizes
Cake pans are one of the most used and common tools in the baking industry or in any baker’s kitchen. They come in different shapes such as round, square, or heart, and in different sizes.
No matter if you want to make a giant tiered wedding cake or a cute and personal lunchbox birthday cake, you’ll surely find the shape and size that matches your preferences! Just make sure to choose the right kind of material to maximize your resources. As for us, using a heavy gauge aluminum material for cake pans is the way to go.
I have several USA pans and love them. They’re sold, study, don’t warp, and aren’t heavy.
I’ve also heard great things about Fat Daddio. I’ve used Wilton cake pans, too, and had good success with them. They’re a great resource for fun cake pan shapes like a doll cake, heart shape or a 3-tiered cake pan set.
Here are a few basic pans I recommend having in your collection:
Cake Decorating Supply Set
If you want everything you need to start decorating cakes right now, get a cake decorating set that includes things like a turntable, pastry bags, tips, and more.
Cake boards are thick materials used to support your cake, or to transport them easier onto a turner, a cake stand, or a cake box.
When choosing a cake board, choose the size that is about 2 inches bigger from the cake pan to leave room for the frosting or any decorations. Choosing a much bigger cake board, however, is beneficial for when you want to put decorations on the cake board (such as words or decoration extensions).
Besides support, cake boards are also used during cake presentations so make sure to choose the right color to match your cake. You’ll find cake boards that have a scallop edge or a smooth edge, are white, gold or other color, and are round, square or rectangular. You can also find packages that come with different sizes – like this one.
Cake stands consist of a stand and a round, flat top, which can be made of plastic, metal, wood, or glass. These are commonly used to elevate or to showcase a cake, and can save space as you can put cupcakes or some other food beneath it. If you do not have a turntable, cake stands can also add support and elevation during cake frosting and decorating.
Cake stands are nice to have, and will make your cake look amazing – but they’re not absolutely necessary when you’re just starting out! If you don’t have a cake stand, you can simply display your cake on a plate – or even just a cake board.
Dowel Rods (for tiered cakes)
Prior to decorating your tiered cake, you’d want to make sure that the layers don’t slide off the center or it will all be ruined just before the big event. To avoid this, dowel rods (or cake rods) are the tools you can rely on for that study tiered cake.
There is no fixed number of rods that should be used per tier of cake. It all really depends on the size, but 5-9 rods per tier is your optimal range. All you have to do is to cut your rods according to the right length, and push them all the way down until they touch the bottom of the cake or the cake board.
Just remember to place your dowel rods with sufficient spacing and clean them before inserting them on your cake.
Wilton Small Cake Leveler
Cakes can be frosted as they are when they come out of the oven, but, for bakers who want to achieve a leveled top, clean edges, and even layers, using a small cake leveler could be of great help.
One of the most reliable brands is the Wilton cake leveler, made of a metal wire trimmer, and a plastic handle. The height of the metal wire can be adjusted according to preference, and be smoothly used to trim the cake for a smooth top finish. I’ve used a Wilton cake leveler for years! You can use a long, serrated knife to level and tier cakes but a leveler is SO much easier.
Although you can decorate your cake on a wide, flat table, cake turntables are absolutely a game-changer.
There are many kinds of materials used for cake turntables, but for beginners or for those who like hassle-free baking, plastic turntables can be your best bet as it is lightweight and relatively more affordable than the metal or glass variants.
Plastic turntables come with a stand and a rotating top to ease the frosting and decorating process. Note, however, that when making heavier or tiered cakes, choosing a more durable turntable may be a wiser decision.
I waited a while before buying a turntable and I do wish I’d gotten one sooner. They’re not that expensive and make icing and decorating cakes so much easier.
If you’re ready to invest in something studier, take a look at this cast iron cake stand.
When baking, a silicone spatula is a tool of great value, from mixing or stirring your ingredients to transferring them onto another container with none of them wasted on the sides of the bowl!
Since silicones are heat-resistant, you can even use a silicone spatula for hot mixtures. Plus, food-grade silicone spatulas are generally recognized as safe for food and use in baking. So, go get that silicone spatula to smoothen up your cake!
Flat Metal Spatula
While the silicone spatula and all the aforementioned tools are more commonly used prior to cake decoration, a metal spatula is used more during the decorating process. They are generally long and narrow, and are used for frosting the cake and spreading and/or leveling such frosting. Click here to check the price on a flat metal spatula.
As compared to a straight spatula, an offset spatula is angled, which is very helpful to prevent your fingers from touching the cake while frosting.
Offset spatulas are particularly useful when leveling the cake frosting. To do this efficiently, it is suggested to first put a very thin cake frosting coat on the cake, so as to level and fill up the holes and crevices, then let it set for about 30 minutes.
Once the frosting is set, a second, thicker layer can be put on the cake. If you remember the plastic turntable, that tool will ease and speed up this part of the cake decorating process.
Pastry Bags / Disposable Decorating Bags (Reusable piping bag / reusable bags)
Pastry bags, also called as “piping bags”, are cone-shaped bags made from food-grade materials which are used to “pipe” the mixture — which can be a frosting or icing — onto the cake by pressing the bag controllably toward the top (not the center or towards the tip!). You can use either disposable or reusable decorating bags. Usually, disposable bags are made of thin plastics which can be easier to use, while reusable bags can be made of polyester which are more commonly used for thicker mixtures.
One can do without using a decorating tip and by just simply cutting the tip of the piping bag according to preference, but it goes without saying that decorating tips are useful especially for very particular designs you want to put on your cake. For instance, one of the most common designs is a flower, and there are a lot of different tips that can be used depending on the type of flower (and leaf) you want to go with. When you have chosen the tip, you just have to slide it inside the piping bag and cut the tip of the bag to reveal the decorating tip. Sometimes, a coupler can be handy when you want to change tips on a single piping bag.
Cake Scrapers and Cake Combs
Besides the spatula, you may also use a cake scraper for a smoother and more leveled finish on your cake frosting. This tool is usually used if you want to have a flawless cake surface. Some bakers, however, would like to add a little twist and use cake combs to give their cake a little texture. Aside from texture, some bakers also use cake scrapers and cake combs to blend differently-colored frostings on their cake for a gradient finish!
When making flower icings, you may use flower nails if you don’t want to directly put the icing onto the cake. Flower nails are tools that resemble a nail, with a long, thin handle, and a wider circular top where you can form your flower icing. Once done, you may use a pair of clean scissors to “cut” or lift your flower icing from the flower nail, and put it onto your cake.
When flower nails are not available, you can use flower tips to decorate your cake! Flower tips come in different sizes and form which can help you create various floral designs depending on your decorating needs.
Edible Glitter and Food Coloring (for Creating Different Colors of Buttercream Icing)
Sometimes, you’ll want to add some color and sparkle on your cake. Thank goodness for food coloring and edible glitter! Food colorings are convenient to use if you want to have different colors for your buttercream icing. With the right color combinations, your cake will definitely be appetizing to look at (or people may not want to eat it anymore because it’s a beaut!). There are lots and lots of types of food coloring but for beginners, the liquid ones can be a good start, and are the best choice for pastel colors because they are not as saturated. Just make sure to choose a high quality and food-grade food coloring and edible glitter. After all, your cake must be safe to eat!
You can definitely do a lot with cake frostings and icings to decorate your cake, but the creativity doesn’t stop there. In many instances, cake fondants can also be used. With this, fondant rollers can be your partner, but you have to be mindful of the material it’s made of. Since you’re dealing with sticky food, you need to make sure that your roller is stick-proof, hence, choose the ones that are made of either silicone or stainless steel.
After slicing the cake, cake servers are used to efficiently transport the sliced piece from the cake stand onto the plate. Although you can cut with a cake server, it is still best to use a cake knife. Depending on your event, you can pick out the best-looking cake servers with your desired material — metal, plastic, or wood — to match the overall theme!
A Tip for New Cake Decorators
Despite giving you this whole list of cake decorating tools to help in your baking, it is important to know that as the cake decorator, you have the agency to choose the tools that are just right for you.
You also don’t have to be overwhelmed and buy everything on this list.
Remember, what works for you will work for you!