Here’s are my very favorite tools needed to begin cake decorating! These are all tools I have personal experience with and I have found most useful. These are also the tools that I use during my cake decorating classes.
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Cake Pans: A good cake starts with a good pan. If you are going to invest in your cake making, start with good pans that are made with thick aluminum- NOT NONSTICK or DARK COATED PANS. If you have a regular conventional oven (most ovens are) then a good brand like Wilton, Parrish Magic Line, or is great. However, If you have a convection oven, fat daddios cake pans really can’t be beat.
Parchment Paper Rounds: Parchment paper rounds will give extra insurance against the cakes sticking to the bottom of the pans. These rounds are just regular parchment paper cut into circles for convenience. Order the same size as your pan OR order larger sheets and cut your own circles as you need them!
Cake Leveler: Cakes are only as sturdy as their foundation. Starting with level layers is the first step in building a beautiful cake! I love my cheap little Wilton leveler and have used it thousands of time with sucess!
Cake Turn Table: A turn table is essential for cake decorating, it will help you work on the cake from all angles. The smooth spinning will help to smooth the sides or add texture. The first one is the one I started with and still have after 10+ years, the middle is the one that I use when I need a heavier turntable, the third is the one that I use at the culinary school where I teach. I like them all and have done all sizes of cakes on them. I will say my favorite is the last one.
Cake Lifter: A cake lifter is invaluable for lifting layers and tiers of cake while you decorate.
Cake Boards: Cake boards are very handy for all types of things, but you definitely need a cake board under each tier of cake. Get the same size as your cake pan for basic decorating. I prefer grease-proof and coated boards.
Decorative Cake Boards: Sometimes a disposable option for displaying your cake is the best. These look so much prettier than a plain cake board, you can even glue ribbon around the edge of the thicker boards for a finish that matches your cake! (Make sure you get a decorative board at least 2″ bigger than your cake, but not bigger than your storage box! )
Buttercream Cake Decorating Necessities
Wilton brand piping tips are the ones I use. The first set is the one I personally own and the second and third sets are ones I recommend for people who aren’t ready to invest a lot:
Offset and straight spatulas are great for putting frosting between the layers, mixing colors, and textural effects on the outside of cake. I have all sizes from large to small. Different brands have different weights and flexibility in the blade. I have been happiest with my Ateco brand spatulas.
Cake Combs: Cake combs and cake smoothers make finishing the cake with a smooth finish or cool textural effect easy peasy. Like everything else, there are a ton of different sizes, materials, and brands out there, even items that aren’t sold in the cake decorating aisle work great! Here are few of my personal favorites:
Piping Bags: Piping bags come in all different sizes and materials, some are disposable and some are reusable. I have both, but usually use the reusable ones at home and rely on disposable ones in my classes because of time and clean up hassles when I’m on the go. As for size, stick with 12″ – 10″ ones for cake decorating, it’s hard to keep a large piping bag full of buttercream steady.
Couplers: Whenever you use a piping bag, it makes the job easier if you also pair it with a coupler. Couplers allow you to change out your piping tips without using a new piping bag. These are essential tools for your cake decorating kit. Toss in a large one too for the piping tips like 1M and 2D that are too big for the standard couplers
Gel Colors: For coloring buttercream, you really need quality pigments. Gel colors are different from the food colorings you can buy at the typical grocery store. I usually use AmeriColors and Wilton Icing Colors because they are easy to work with and find online and locally.
After you finish your cake, you need a place to store it and maybe even a safe way to transport it. Taller cakes can be difficult because most standard cake domes are too short and can smoosh the top of your cake. They make expensive solutions, but there are really cheap solutions too. A simple cardboard box works perfectly, but if you want a prettier option I will include those too.