Ask yourself if any of these sound familiar to you?
- You want to start baking and cake decorating, but you’re not sure how.
- You’re overwhelmed by the amount of information out there about baking.
- You haven’t started baking yet and want to do it right.
- You wish there were a step by step tutorial for how to make fluffy cake layers, make buttercream that won’t melt, and decorate cakes that will impress.
- You’re tired of reading blog posts about baking, and you want to take action with a book that works.
If you’re saying yes to any of these, then you will love what today’s post is all about.
Cake decorating is often admired but seen as impossible the majority of the time. Most beginners find it intimidating to bake and decorate cakes at home.
The key to success with decorating cakes is to practice a lot and have patience with yourself. Practice and patience, along with these quick cake decorating tips and tricks, will give you the best starting.
Then as you continue to build your skills, you gain the confidence to make any cake or design you’d like and be successful at it.
With these cake decorating tips and tricks, you’ll be able to make any cake with ease and enjoy the experience. The goal is to reduce any overwhelming feeling you might have with baking and decorating a cake!
Let’s Get Started!
1. Read the Recipe Before Beginning & Pre-Measure Ingredients
Reading the recipe and pre-measuring out the ingredients is the first thing I do with every recipe, whether it’s baking or cooking. This step helps my brain prepare for the upcoming recipe. Read through all the ingredients and instructions so you can get a better idea of how much time and what you need to make this cake.
This process may seem simple to some, but I wanted to talk about this today so you can think about setting yourself up in advance and how important that is for baking. When baking, you have to pre-plan and think ahead if you miss a crucial step at the beginning, then you’ll see it affect the process later.
To go one step further, after measuring out ingredients, cut, chop, or prepare the ingredients. This helps to save time during the cooking process.
2. Preparing Citrus Zest
When zesting the fruit using a proper tool like a Microplane Zester, only zests the flavorful rind, not the bitter white pith, the zest is bold and bright, which is the tastiest part. You can find the Microplane Zester on Amazon if needed. Zest oranges, lemons, or limes ahead of time, then divide into 1 Tablespoon packets wrapped in wax paper. Label a Ziploc plastic bag filled with 1 TBSP packet(s) of orange, lemon, or lime zest and place in the freezer to keep fresh for up to 6 months. Storing them in these packets makes it so much easier when you are baking.
3. Homemade Buttermilk
Making homemade buttermilk only requires two ingredients: whole milk and acid, which is either lemon juice or white vinegar. The acid reacts with the fat in the whole milk, which creates thicker curdled milk, which is buttermilk. Typically you have these two ingredients already in your home, so that can be helpful if you are in a rush! Here’s the ratio, if you need 1 cup buttermilk, use 1 cup whole milk mixed with 1 Tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar.
4. 2 Ways to Divide Cake Batter
What I like about these two tips is there’s no wrong answer, and you’ll find what works best for you and your baking skills!
The first way is using a baking scale in which every baker should own a scale! It can help! And the second-way is using an ice cream scooper that has a trigger release for easy scooping. I have a variety of sizes that I use for cake batters, cookie doughs, and cupcakes.
5. Prevent Blueberries From Sinking to Bottom of Pan
When making a blueberry layered cake or other blueberry baked goods, it can get tricky. So use this simple tip to prevent the blueberries from stinking to the bottom. Wash the blueberries and pack them dry. Then in a small bowl, gently toss the blueberries in 1 Tablespoon of all-purpose flour. Carefully coat the berries in the flour then shake off any excess flour before adding the blueberries into the cake batter.
Note: this tip also works well for chocolate chips in baked goods.
6. How to Get Clean Cake Slices
There’s an easy way to get clean and beautiful cake slices. The key is using a hot knife when you cut the cake. Use a medium to long sharp chef’s knife. Place the knife under hot running water from the sink or place the blade into a tall glass with hot water in the glass (make sure the knife fits in most of the glass).
Heat the knife for 1-2 minutes until the metal is warm. Wipe off the and dry the knife before slicing the cake. Then wipe off any cake crumbs in between slicing. Repeat the process when the knife blade is cold.
7. 3 Ways to Prevent Cakes from Sticking
Tip #1 – Cooking Spray & Parchment Paper – My Personal Favorite
Use non-stick cooking spray and a circle of parchment paper lining the bottom of the pan before adding the cake batter.
Tip #2 – Vegetable Shortening (or Butter) & Flour
Spread vegetable shortening or butter and add some of the all-purpose flour (or cocoa powder) to coat the shortening or butter. Roll the flour all over the pan and dump out the extra before adding the cake batter.
Tip #3 – Cake Goop
In a stand mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 1 cup vegetable shortening, 1 cup vegetable oil (or canola oil), and 1 cup all-purpose flour, mix until well incorporated and smooth. Brush the cake goop all over the inside of the cake pan before adding the cake batter.
8. How to Make Smooth Buttercream
Once the buttercream has been whipping on medium-high for 5 minutes, you’ll immediately want to reduce the speed to low and push all the air out of the buttercream. Mix for at least 2 minutes. This step creates bubble-free silky smooth buttercream every time. You’ll do this right before decorating your cake. As your buttercream sits, it’ll get bubbles in it, so be sure to re-mix the buttercream on low before using. You can also use a wooden spoon and mix the buttercream by hand, pushing out all those bubbles that were created earlier.
9. How to Make Dark Color Buttercream
For the base of these colored buttercreams, you can use this easy vanilla buttercream! Start by adding dark (or black) cocoa powder to the buttercream before the gel food color. Adding the cocoa powder creates a base color that’s easier to start from instead of bright white. Plus, it counters the bitter taste from the gel food color, so it’s easier to get a dark red or black buttercream.
10. 3 Ways to Use Chocolate Ganache
Chocolate ganache is a simple recipe that’s rich and decadent. It could be used in many ways, like filling inside cakes, whipped to be used as frosting, and put into a squeeze bottle to drip down the sides of the cake.
You May Also Enjoy:
- How to Fill, Stack & Crumb Coat a Layered Cake
- 25 Favorite Baking Tools for Beginner Bakers
- Planning Cakes Ahead of Time
Cake decorating doesn’t have to be scary, so use these quick tips above for an easy guide. With these helpful cake decorating tips and tricks, you will be the most successful and confident in the kitchen!
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