Read these Basic Techniques that a home baker can use to bake their own cake for special occasions. I also give you a comprehensive list of cake supplies to keep on hand.
Many years ago, I took a cake decorating class at a local craft shop. It was the hardest and most frustrating thing I ever tried to do. Why I thought I could learn how to do this in just a few hours, I’ll never know. Cake decorating isn’t hard I’ve learned over the years, it’s really just something that takes practice. There is always such a sense of pride when you make your first cake. Personally, I enjoy making a birthday cake every year for my loved ones.
There are two things that I’ve realized when it comes to cake decorating:
- Having the right tools – you can find some of the best products at the grocery store or online for a low price.
- And getting your hand motions down
After that, here are some of my best cake decorating tips you should know.
Take your time
You don’t have to do everything all in one day. The good news is that working with frozen cakes makes leveling and frosting your cakes a lot easier. I prefer to make 8 inch cakes by using 8″ cake pans. You can make your buttercream frosting up to a week in advance. This makes a perfect option for a busy person!
Cake Recipes You Need to Try!
How to level and torte tiered cakes
What is leveling?
To level the cake means to make it completely even across the top. In baking a lot of cakes will rise in the center creating a dome shaped that we do not want to move we are putting cakes together.
What does it mean to torte a cake?
To torte cake means to slice it in half horizontally in order to add a filling; such as Buttercream, jams, ganache or custard.
Why is it important?
It’s important to have a leveled layer cake to ensure the stability of your cake. Stacking a dome cake on top of another with added buttercream will cause the cake to “break” under pressure. This will cause it to crack right down the middle.
What do you need to properly level and or torte a cake?
- Pre-baked, unfrozen cake
- A serrated knife or cake leveler
- A sturdy turntable
- Ruler, optional
- Cake lifter, optional
Why would I need a ruler?
Some people prefer very precise levels of sliced cake, therefore they mark the cake all the way around the perimeter at the 1 inch mark with a ruler in order to guide their knife through the cake evenly.
Can I do this without a leveler or ruler?
Absolutely! First place your cake on a cake board and then on a turntable. Have your large serrated knife ready. Place the blade of the knife where you want to make the first cut.
(we will not be slicing straight through)
Make a little slit with the blade of the knife at the center of the layer of cake so that we can may cut it in half. You can eyeball this or use a ruler as mentioned above.
Rotate the turntable clockwise if right handed, counter clockwise if left handed (or whichever
way feels the most comfortable). Do not try to add slits all the way through. You should make slits going all the way around the cake and on the second loop, slice closer to the center until the layers are separated.
Be very careful and do not go too fast as you can cut the hand on the opposite side of the cake.
Tip: lock your elbow into your side to keep it level when doing this so your knife doesn’t cut upwards or downwards. We want to go straight across.
Once the levels are separated use a cake lifter, a second cake board or your hands to gently remove the top layer.
Freeze the layers for layer or build your cake.
Apply a crumb coat to your cake
Before you fully frost your cake, give it a quick coating of frosting around the whole cake known as a crumb coat. Then let the cake sit in the refrigerator for a minimum of 20 minutes. This will keep all of your crumbs under the crumb coat and allow your frosting to be nice and smooth.
Frosting your cake
While the cake is on your turntable, apply a heaping amount of frosting on the top of your cake. As you rotate your cake, use the palette knife to smooth the frosting on the sides.
One of the best ways to practice decorating cakes with piping is just on a piece of parchment paper. Practice your piping by filling your pastry bags and then using different piping tips. Practice making edible decorations, advanced flowers, lattice work and simple borders. As you practice, keep scooping the frosting back into your piping bag and keep practicing
Use homemade buttercream
You’ll realize right from the start that making homemade buttercream isn’t that difficult and way more delicious that any store bought kind of frosting. Here in the United States, we tend to use buttercream icing versus a swiss meringue buttercream, which uses egg whites.
When making your cakes and frostings be sure to first, read all of the directions. Don’t deviate from the instructions. Baking is a science!
Then, set all of your ingredients measured out to make sure you have everything. All of your ingredients should be at room temperature so they bake evenly.
How to Cut a Custom Cake
Beginning Decorator Tool Kit
- Small 10-Inch Cake Leveler
- Cake Decorating Turntable
- Cake Icing Smoother or Viva no print paper towels
- Icing Design Smoother
- 9-Inch Angled Spatula
- Cake Release Pan Coating
- Americolor Gel Food Colors
- Chefmaster Gel Colors
- Decorating Tips and Couplers
- Piping bags (12 inch for cakes, 16 inch for large amounts of cupcakes.)
- Piping bags for cupcakes
- Cake boards
- 2 inch thick cake pans (6 and 8 inch to start)
- Decorating practice board
- Electric Mixer Kitchenaid
Be sure to read my guide to baking basics, which talks about measuring out your dry ingredients.
Making a perfect cake will come to you in just a little bit. Remember, this is how all hobby bakers end up with a new business idea. Following these easy steps will have you thinking cake decorating is just a “piece of cake”!