When learning a new skill like cake decorating, it’s easy to get frustrated because mistakes can happen and be very discouraging.
Trying a new recipe or different techniques can also be overwhelming, but you can avoid or prevent mistakes from happening with a solid foundation.
Today I wanted to share with you how to avoid these common decorating mistakes.
Below you’ll find typical mistakes that most bakers have experienced, but more importantly, here’s how to prevent or even fix them so you can be prepared.
Let’s Get Started!
Mistake #1 – You Don’t Read the Full Recipe or Tutorial Before Starting
To avoid any surprises, read the entire recipe before you begin. Read carefully over the ingredients and instructions. For example, make sure you have all the ingredients on hand, look for instructions like preheat your oven or prepare cake pans before making the cake batter. This will help you decide if you have the time to commit to the recipe and will make the process seamless and less stressful.
Mistake #2 – Your Not Properly Chilling Cake Layers
After your cakes have been baked, it is best to chill them in the freezer to cool completely and let them get cold. Cold cake layers are easier to work with when filling, stacking, and crumb coating; when the cakes come out of the oven and cool for 10 minutes before wrapping them in plastic wrap and placing them into the freezer for 30-60 minutes.
Mistake #3 – Stacking Uneven Cake Layers
Most bakers don’t realize a big mistake is that they must make sure their cake layers are even before filling and stacking. Use a serrated knife to remove any dome off of the chilled cakes. Make them even and flat so you have an excellent base to build from.
Mistake #4 – Trimming Warm Cake Layers
Make sure your cake layers are chilled through the middle of the cakes. This is a crucial step. If you trim a warm cake layer, you risk ruining the foundation of the cake (or the top edge of the cake). This can cause cracking and crumbling when you build the cake. Chill your cakes for 1 hour or overnight to ensure your cakes are correctly chilled.
Mistake #5 – You’re Frosting Gets Too Warm
When your frosting gets too warm, you can run into several issues. You want room-temperature frosting, so it’s easy to spread. But warm frosting is challenging to work with as it becomes soupy loose and water-like. You cannot achieve sharp edges on your cake. It can collapse your cake and filling layers, which can cause your cake to bulge.
Mistake #6 – Your Frosting Consistency Could be the Problem
Consistency is key to frosting a cake/cupcakes or piping decoration; your buttercream’s consistency is key to getting the right results. Too soft, and your decorations will droop and sag off the cake. Add more powdered sugar to adjust the softness. Too stiff, and your icing will be challenging to spread. Add milk or heavy cream to loosen the buttercream.
Mistake #7 – Forgetting the Crumb Coat
After you have filled and stacked your cake layers, you will crumb coat your cake. A crumb coat is a term you will see a lot in cake decorating. It refers to the sealing in the loose crumbs and preventing them from getting into the buttercream’s final layer. Add a thin layer of frosting all over the cake to trap any loose crumbs to crumb coat. Place the cake into the freezer for 20-30 minutes to properly chill the cake before adding another, thicker layer of buttercream.
Mistake #8 – Not Using a Border When You Have a Soft Filling
The frosting or filling is too thin and runny (or what we call soupy). This happens with mousse fillings or fruit fillings, even whipped cream. Create a super thick, almost dough-like consistency buttercream to pipe around the edge of the cake and add the frosting/filling inside the dough-like ring. The cake layers sit on the thick buttercream, and it doesn’t affect the overall taste of the cake. (For a 6-inch cake, you’ll need no more than 1/2 cup of buttercream or frosting, then you’ll add 1/4 cup of powdered sugar to it. You’ll continue to slowly add powdered sugar until the buttercream is a thick, almost cookie dough-like consistency. Place it into a piping bag and pipe a ring on the edge of the cake, then fill the circle with regular buttercream/frosting/filling.)
Mistake #9 – You Don’t Wipe the Knife When Cutting Cakes
The key is using a hot knife when you cut the cake. The hot knife will cut through the cake layers like butter. Then it’s essential to wipe off the blade on a damp towel in between each slice. When the cake has coconut or nuts baked inside, use a serrated knife to prevent ripping and tearing up the cake for a better presentation.
You May Also Enjoy:
- 10 Cake Decorating Tips and Tricks for Beginners (post)
- Build Cakes Like a Pro(free guide)
- Cake Decorating for Beginners (masterclass)
As a beginner, there is nothing more frustrating than your cake is falling apart or the frosting looking lumpy. 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!