Every time I make a cake, I learn something new. This page is a pot-pourri of lessons I have learned and fun "tricks of the trade". So far, they are all my own opinions and methods. I would love to hear from others who have advice or lessons learned. I'm sure those visiting the site would like to hear from someone besides me! Email me and share your experiences and I will post them on this page.

Tips from Visitors
  • Submitted by Eleni DeGraw

    Sometimes when you bake your cakes, in order for the cake to be done in the middle, the edges end up a little crusty. Some people prefer to leave the "hard parts" on, but I find that I can get them off fastest and easiest (without ruining the shape or detail of the cake), by using my kitchen shears (scissors for food) to take off the rough edges.

  • Submitted by Sandra Jahn

    This is a tip learned the hard way and something I never expected! When transporting a cake, shade it from the sun. When I lived in Michigan many years ago, I made a wedding cake which had to be transported about an hour's drive away. I had it in the back of a van, which, of course, has many big windows. The color in the flowers on the side facing the back window faded in the sun. By the time we arrived, there were two very distinct sides to that cake!
Tiered or Stacked Cakes
  • If you are decorating a cake with lots of sringwork, don't put them on until you get to the cake's final destination. You will most likely end up redoing them after transporting anyway.

  • Don't try to transport your stacked or tiered cake all in one piece. Even the most well-supported cake can shift in transport if you have to stop suddenly or hit a bump in the road. Take each tier separately in it's own box and assemble it when you get there. If a cake is stacked and you absolutely must deliver it in one piece, you can take a long dowel, sharpened at the end, and impale the whole thing all the way through all layers and cardboard and everything. This will help with shifting.

  • I have heard many people say they use drinking straws as supports for their stacked or tiered cakes. I do NOT recommend this practice. Cakes are surprisingly heavy, and straws can break easily under the weight. I recommend using wooden dowels that are about inch in diameter. (and lots of them!).

  • Make sure that the base that your cake is on is strong enough to support all the layers. If you are using cardboard, use lots of it! Other options are plywood or foamcore. (Plywood can be very heavy, so be careful when using!)

  • When delivering your wedding cake, (or any cake, for that matter). Take along a "repair kit". Include in your kit: your favorite spatula(s), ALL tips used in decorating this particular cake (in case of damage during transport), extra frosting in all colors used, damp towels, and extra supports (dowels, etc.) This way, you won't have to face any problem you can't handle.
General Cake Decorating Advice
  • Experiment with lots of different recipes for cakes, frostings, and fillings. Find the ones you like the best and stick with them. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to work with an unfamiliar cake or frosting when you have a deadline. Save the experimentation for less busy times.

  • I never thought I'd say this, but I have learned to love the big cake icer tip. Since I started using that, I don't even have to crumb coat my cakes anymore. It saves a lot of time, and I rarely have a problem with crumbs. (you can purchase this through at most cake supply stores).

  • When smoothing your icing, use a clean spray bottle filled with water on its finest "mist" setting. First, get your cake as smooth as you can get it by just using a spatula. Then, spray the entire cake with a VERY LIGHT mist of water. Continue to smooth out any rough spots with your spatula. I'm telling you, it works like magic!

  • Another smoothing technique is to let the final coat of icing (if you crumb coat), crust over slightly. Then take a plain white piece of paper (typing or computer printer paper is good) and lay it on your cake. Rub your hand over the paper in a gentle circular motion. Keep moving the paper and rubbing until you have done this to the entire surface of the cake.

  • I like to use a large, flat metal scraper (like bakers use to cut bread dough) to smooth the sides of my cakes. I set the edge of it down on my turntable so the straight metal edge is right up against the cake (parallel to it) then spin the turntable. You get perfectly straight-up-and-down sides!

  • Always smooth the sides of your cake and then the top. It seems to work much better than the other way around.

  • If your cakes come out of the oven with rounded tops, let them cool and place them in the freezer for a couple of hours. Then take them out and use a serrated knife to trim off the tops. If you level your cakes before you ice them you will have a much prettier result.

  • I always freeze my cakes (very well wrapped) overnight before decorating. This way, if I need to split them or trim them they won't fall apart. Also, they are much easier to move around when they are frozen. You don't have to worry as much about breakage. I usually split and fill my cakes while they are frozen and then let them thaw before icing. Some people are "freeze-phobic". They think that if you freeze a cake overnight it is no longer fresh. I disagree! My customers always rave about how moist and delicious the cake is. I hope I don't offend anyone, but I have heard of people who bake their cakes a week in advance, but refuse to freeze them because they will no longer be fresh... it really doesn't make sense to me. Maybe someone can explain?? Email me.

  • If you are using any colored icing on your cake, always mix more than you think you'll need of each color. It is almost impossible to mix the exact color again.

  • Also when using a color... When the icing dries the color will get darker. Mix the color a few shades lighter than you want.

  • If you are serious about cake decorating, invest in some nice pans. Your pans are a mold for your cakes... if they are all bent out of shape, your cake will be too.

  • Don't ever give up. If at first you don't succeed, you are normal! Things will happen. You will make mistakes. You will make cakes that you aren't exactly proud of, but you will LEARN! With every cake you make you will learn something new. I guarantee if you ask any cake decorator who has been decorating for 25 or 30 years, whose cakes always look like a picture of perfection, they will tell you that yes, even they have had more than one catastrophe!! Keep on decorating!!!

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