As a beginner baker, it’s easy to get frustrated by all the terms, jargon, or phrases used in recipes and tutorials.
Today we’ll go over baking and cake decorating terms that you should know before starting. These terms will make sure you can be the best possible baker and cake decorator.
Some of these terms are common sense, like references or phrases, while others can be a head-scratcher, and that’s why I created this list to help you avoid any frustration.
By the end of this list of baking and decorating terms, you’ll know exactly what the author is talking about and succeed in the kitchen.
Let’s Get Started
Mix By Hand
Mix By Hand: Mix in using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon and use your power versus an appliance like a mixer.
Room Temperature: refers to the ideal room temperature, which is probably cooler than you think it is—around 68°F-70°F. If the ingredients are warmer than that, it’ll be harder to work with and most likely too warm.
Zest: the colored rind on fruit such as citrus. You’ll need to use a Microplane or a zester to scrape off the zest but not go too deep into the bitter white pith.
To Fold: means to gently stir in an ingredient into something else (typically the batter). You’ll see it like this, Next, fold in the sprinkles into the batter. (gently stir in to combine).
Cooling Rack: a wire rack used to cool baking goods when hot out of the oven.
Inverting onto a Cooling Rack
Inverting on to a Cooling Rack: means turn the cake pan over and allow the cake to slide out of the pan, and let cool on a cooling rack.
One at a Time
One at a Time: typically refers to eggs being added to the batter. You can add another one, one at a time means that as soon as the egg breaks into the batter.
Cake Border: A cake border is just what it sounds, a border around the cake either on the top of the cake or the bottom. It can be piped with frosting.
Cake Layers: Cake layers are the individual baked cakes. When you fill a cake pan, that’s one layer. (Cake tiers are different, and we’ll get to that next.) When putting a cake together, you’ll generally have two to three layers of cake filling in between them.
Cake Boards (or Cake Base): Cake boards are the actual cake circles (or squares if it’s a square cake) under each tier. They are the same size as the cake tier. You need a cake board under every cake tier, especially if you’ll be stacking cakes. Cake boards can be just cardboard cake rounds or made out of foam core board.
Chilled (or chilling): place the cake into the refrigerator or freezer to get cold from the inside out.
Cake Tiers: Cake tiers are made up of cake layers. I usually use about three cake layers to make a tier. Wedding cakes are generally tiered cakes.
Crumb Coat: A crumb coat is just a super thin layer of buttercream on your cake, once it’s filled, to seal in the crumbs. You’ll do a crumb coat first, let it settle a bit, then add the final coat of buttercream. You’ll see this process in the Step by Step Tutorials lesson.
Build a Cake
Build a Cake: refers to the filling and stacking of cake layers, adding filling and frosting.
Leaving a Cake
Leveling a Cake: refers to cutting off the tops of the cake layers to make it flat and even. It’s important when building a cake as it’ll prevent the cake from falling over or being slanted.
Filling a Cake
Filling a Cake: filling a cake is just what it sounds like. You’re just adding filling between the cake layers. You’ll add one cake layer to your cake base and spread on filling, then add another cake layer and repeat it. A filling is a specialty filling like a berry jam, citrus curd, pastry cream, or caramel.
Icing Dam: An icing dam is a line of icing that is piped just around the inside of each cake layer, then either buttercream, fruit filling, or another type of filling is added inside that dam. The dam is piped so that the filling between the cake layers doesn’t squish out and forms a barrier around the cake layer’s edge. You’ll see these techniques being used in the Step by Step Tutorial.
Icing Spatulas: refers to the offset, straight-edge, or flat spatula.
Piping: is just squeezing icing out of a piping bag, generally onto a cake or a flower nail. You can pipe words like “Happy Birthday,” flowers, and other designs.
American Buttercream: is a frosting made up of some sort of combination including but not limited too – butter, salt, vanilla extract, powdered sugar, and heavy cream. It’s typically sweet and super easy to make, especially for beginners.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Swiss Meringue Buttercream (or SMBC): is a frosting made from egg whites, granulated sugar, and butter. The egg whites and sugar cooked in a double boiler then whipped into a meringue before adding the butter. It makes for a delicious light and fluffy frosting.
Ganache: is made up of chocolate and heavy cream. It’s super easy to make, plus there are variations like pouring (or drippy) ganache, whipped ganache, and firm ganache.
You May Also Enjoy:
- How to Frost Perfectly Smooth Cakes (post)
- Build Cakes Like a Pro (free guide)
- Cake Decorating for Beginners (masterclass)
As a beginner, there is nothing more frustrating than not knowing what the heck the recipe is talking about in the directions. Bookmark this list and refer back to it whenever you have a question about a recipe or tutorial so you can succeed in the kitchen.
Please feel free to email me here at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have; I’ll be happy to help!
Hey, if you liked this tutorial, you really should check out Cake Decorating for Beginners, my signature masterclass. I coach you on everything I teach on these cake tutorials on a deeper level so that you can uplevel your baking and decorating skills. We 10x it to get the results you want most impressive cakes that your friends and family will love. Like any new skill, it’s essential to learn from the ground up to build a foundation so that you can take on any cake challenge. It is an investment your future self will thank you for. Check it out at XOKatieRosario.com/cake-masterclass. I will see you there!