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Talking more about cake basics today and the essential cake decorating tools you need to help your cake game go to the next level.
Just like having the right ingredients will ensure you get a great tasting cake, having the right tools helps to ensure you end up with a great looking cake too! There are so many fun tools and gadgets you could spend your money on, but you don’t need all of them to get started.
Let’s first focus on the “essentials” and then, we’ll take a look at the “nice to haves.”
Essential Cake Decorating Tools
To kick off our list of essential cake decorating tools is the turntable. This was one of the biggest game changers for my decorating. There are a lot of turntables on the market, so depending on how much you’re decorating cakes will help determine what type of turntable you should get. If you’re only making a birthday cake every once in a while, I think you’ll be fine with something less expensive like THIS Ateco plastic one. It’s the same one we use in my cake classes at Orson Gygi. For the annual birthday cakes, this is my favorite go to!
If you’re making cakes pretty frequently, I think it’s worth investing in a cast iron turntable like THIS Ateco one. It’s two separate pieces, so the top spins really nicely. The base is a heavy cast iron, so it doesn’t move around or wable. I went through a lot plastic ones the first year or so I started my blog and then finally decided I needed something more durable. I’ve had this Ateco one for about four years now. If it ever starts to stick, I just grease it with WD40.
Another tool I think is a must-have is a cake scraper. A cake scraper is the tool I use to smooth out the sides of my cake. Over the years I’ve tried a lot of variations (i.e. heights, materials, thicknesses, etc.) of scrapers. They are not all created equal. For many years I settled on, and truly liked, THIS Ateco one. What I found to be the superior qualities of this scraper were the weight and thickness. However, it wasn’t quite tall enough for my bigger cakes and I didn’t like that it had textures on all sides. So last year I decided to design my own scrapers, in addition to spatulas, acrylic disks and a few other things we’ll talk about later. As I designed my scraper set, I made sure it was just as thin and light as the Ateco one I had liked for so many years. I also added a handle and separated the textures so you have three scrapers in the set. It’s a must have for occasions like birthday cakes, wedding cakes, and more!
One of my favorite things to hear from customers that have bought and used the tools is how surprised they are with how light weight they are and the major difference the tools made in their decorating! NOTE: Scrapers will be back in stock the first week of February.
To go along with the scrapers and turntable, I think everyone needs a good set of icing spatulas – one straight and one offset. I like to use the straight spatula for the sides of the cake and the offset spatula for the center and top of the cake. As I created my own set of spatulas, getting the right blade length was super important to me. Some blades are too short, which makes it difficult to frost the sides of your cakes. And then some blades are too long, which makes it difficult to control the spatula.
Another tool that will change your world is the acrylic disk. You’ll use the disk to help you get sharp edges and straight sides. I’ve created a full tutorial on how to use the disks HERE.
NOTE: Acrylic disks will be back in stock next week!
Quality Cake Pans
One more essential to invest in to step up your cake game are quality cake pans. I recommend Fat Daddio Pans. Fat Daddio specializes in anodizing their pans – which basically means they’ve created a pan that evenly distributes heat really, really well. What does that mean for you? It means you’ll get a more even bake in your cakes.
The Nice to Haves
Ok, so now that you have the essential cake decorating tools, let’s talk about the “nice to haves.” These are items that you can live without, but are definitely nice to have!
A cake leveler does exactly what the name implies – levels cakes. Each side has numbers on it so that you can line up the wire to create a perfectly leveled cake. I have THIS one by Wilton.
Ever wonder how I move my cakes from the turntable to the pretty cake stand? It’s as simple as one tool! The cake lifter. I also designed my own version of this tool to match the collection. I love the color so much, this actually sits on my counter against the wall behind my trivet near the stove.
This cake lifter is actually quite heavy and will support your cakes nicely. Just make sure you don’t rely solely on the lifter. You’ll still need to place your hand under the lifter a bit to support the cake. Stacking birthday cakes will become a piece of cake 😉
I’d also suggest getting cake boards, something you can find at your local craft store like Joann’s, Michaels or Hobby Lobby. They come pre-cut and having one under your cake will help you easily slide your cake lifter under the cake to move it.
I think it’s also really nice to have parchment paper. Using a combination of cooking spray and parchment paper will help your cakes come out of the cake pans really nicely. You can get pre-cut parchment rounds like THESE or trace your pans on parchment paper and cut out each circle. Whichever way you decide to go, just make sure you’re spraying your pans with non-stick spray, placing parchment rounds at the bottom of the pan, and spraying the parchment with non-stick spray as well.
Silicone Piping Bag
A reusable piping bag will come in handy when you’re ready to do some piping designs on the top or sides of the your cake. We just had to make one in pink!
And last but not least, the drip bottle! I love this little guy for applying my chocolate drips.
Cake Without the Tools
While all these tools are fun to have and certainly will make decorating your cake a bit easier, not having them shouldn’t be the reason you don’t make a cake from scratch.
You can make all the same delicious cakes in 9″x13″ pans. I recorded an IGTV that you can watch HERE.
Or, if you do a layered birthday cake, you can even decorate it on a plate with a knife like you would with a turntable and spatula.