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How to decorate cakes the right way!

To know how to decorate cakes starts from the moment it leaves the oven, is of the utmost importance. You can add the most beautiful flowers and decorations to a cake, but if it is uneven and has humps and bumps, you might as well stop decorating.

Follow the steps below on how to decorate cakes successfully!

Cooling Down

Do not work on warm cakes. Allow it to cool down completely on cooling racks - air have to be able to move around the cake.

Cakes can be frozen up to 3 months. It makes the decorating process easier, especially after it has been crumbed coated. 

Let it completely cool down. Wrap in plastic wrap and cover with aluminum foil. When ready to use, remember to let it thaw before you start to decorate. Also, do not put two layers of cakes on top of each other. Wrap them individually otherwise they will stick to each other when they are thawed.

Level Cakes

If you do have to level your cakes, buy a proper cake leveler. It is a sharp “saw” that you could adjust to cut the layers equally. Do not skip this step, because a skew cake is also not very pleasing to the eye.

If you bake one cake, the rule is to cut it into the half.  So, a two-tier cake will basically have 4 layers on the inside. Tips: Use different shades of color for your icing. It looks great when cutting the cake.

Crumb Coating

Apply some frosting on your cake board and then put the cake on top. It will prevent the cake from moving around on the board. The next step is crucial because you do not want to see bumps on your cake if you are going to cover it with fondant. This stage is called crumb coating. You will need to apply a complete stroke without lifting your spatula from the cake. If you lift it up in small strokes, you will lift up crumbs. You basically need to smear the frosting. It will basically look like a naked cake. 

When you've successfully covered the cake, pop it into the fridge for no less than 30 minutes. The butter-cream will basically create a crust and seals in the crumbs. After this step, it will be ready for the final thick coating.

Piping Bags

Use a piping bag that you are comfortable with. There are a large variety available: disposable, reusable, plastic bags and even parchment triangles that you can make yourself. If you have a lot to decorate, start with a small bag. 

Too large quantities in a pastry bag are a no go – you warm hands will make it melt and it will lose the stiff consistency and you do not want blobs on the cake. Use only for what is required and rather fill up as you go along. A trick I’ve learned is to put your pastry bag into a large glass container, the point of the pastry tip facing downwards. 

Fold down the sides over the frame of the glass. Fill it ¾ and twist it close. You can use a rubber band on the top to make sure no spillage. 

Filling

Best cakes are smooth and even. If you put your layers on top of each other, there should be no gaps at all. The same applies to after you filled it with your favorite filling. The best way to make sure your filling is just enough is to make a ring around the edges of the cake with the buttercream and then add the filling. 

Press lightly to see if there are any gaps and where it might be higher and fix now before you continue to cover the cake with your favorite buttercream or fondant.

Follow my tips and instructions on how to decorate cakes and you will be amazed at your end results.

How to Decorate Cakes with Buttercream

There are many ways to apply the last butter-cream coat. You can use a spatula and apply a large amount of buttercream to the sides and top of the cake. Even it out with the spatula and then use a scraping tool while turning the turntable, holding the tool upright but slightly skew against the cake. 

Keep scraping until it is completely smooth. You can also keep a jug of warm water next to you. Put your spatula in the warm water. Dry it and smooth around the cake. The heat will make the buttercream melt slightly and create a smoother surface.

How to Decorate Cakes with Fondant

When working with fondant, you still need to cover your cake with buttercream or ganache so that the fondant can adhere to the cake. Roll out the fondant on a smooth surface. You can add some icing sugar to the surface so it does not stick, or use a rolling mat which is fantastic. I can't be without one! It is extremely hygienic and your fondant will not dry out from too much icing sugar.