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Decorating Cakes

It's easy to see when a cake decorating job is well done, with impressive finishing touches and cake decorating techniques such as perfect roses, borders or fondant accents. Here you will get a step-by-step rundown of the essential prep work and cake decorating ideas everyone must learn before starting to decorate.

Leveling a Cake

cake leveling

Before you ice your cake, you will want to level your cake for a more professional look. Wait until the cake has cooled at least one hour before leveling.

wilton video

Place the cake on a cake board, then place the board on a cake stand. While slowly rotating the cake stand, move the serrated cake knife back and forth across the top of cake in a sawing motion to remove the crown. Try to keep the knife level as you cut.

Place the cake on a cake board. Position the ends of the cutting wire of the cake leveler (or feet on the large cake leveler) into the notches at the desired height. With legs standing on the work surface, cut into the crusted edge using an easy sawing motion, then proceed by gently gliding wire through the cake.

Icing a Cake Using a Spatula

spatula cake icing

Preparing a perfectly smooth iced cake, while keeping crumbs out of the icing can seem like a tricky thing– but over the years we've developed some methods to make it easier. Start by positioning the cake on its serving board on the turntable. Remember to thin the icing with 3-4 Tablespoons of corn syrup so it spreads easier. The trick to keeping crumbs out of your icing is to glide your spatula over the icing, never allowing the spatula to touch the cake surface or to pull already spread icing from the cake surface. Some decorators prefer to "crumb coat" layers by lightly icing the cake first, allowing a light crust to form, then adding a top icing cover.

wilton video

Step 1
The trick to keeping crumbs out of your icing is gliding your spatula on the icing--never allow it to touch the surface of the cake. Place a large amount of thin consistency icing on the center of the cake.

Step 2
Spread icing across the top, pushing toward edges. Smooth the top using the edge of the spatula. Sweep the edge of the spatula from the rim of the cake to its center then lift it off and remove excess icing.

Step 3
Cover the sides with icing. Smooth sides by holding the spatula upright with the edge against the icing and slowly spinning the turntable without lifting the spatula from the icings’s surface. Return excess icing to the bowl and repeat until sides are smooth.

Step 4
Rotate the cake slightly and repeat the procedure, starting from a new point on the rim until you have covered the entire top surface. Smooth the center of the cake by leveling the icing with the edge of your spatula. For easier smoothing, it may help to dip the spatula into hot water, wipe dry and glide it across the entire surface. Set the cake aside and allow the icing to crust over for at least 15 minutes before decorating. At that point you may also lay Non-Stick Parchment Paper on the iced cake top and gently smooth with the palm of your hand.

Rolled Fondant (Rounds)

spatula cake icing

How do you cover a cake with fondant that's perfectly smooth, without wrinkles or air bubbles? The flexibility of fondant is your secret weapon. Just follow our instructions for the right ways to knead, roll out and lift the fondant, and you'll find that covering a cake is easy.

Step 1
Prepare cake by lightly covering with buttercream icing.

Fondant Amounts to Cover Cakes

Step 2
Before rolling out fondant, knead it until it is a workable consistency. If fondant is sticky, knead in a little confectioners' sugar. Lightly dust your smooth work surface or the Roll & Cut Mat and your rolling pin with confectioners' sugar to prevent sticking. Roll out fondant sized to your cake. To keep fondant from sticking, lift and move as you roll. Add more confectioners' sugar if needed.

Step 3
Gently lift fondant over rolling pin or slip cake circle under fondant to move; position on cake.

Step 4
Shape fondant to sides of cake with Easy-Glide Smoother. We recommend using the smoother because the pressure of your hands may leave impressions on the fondant. Beginning in the middle of the cake top, move the smoother outward and down the sides to smooth and shape fondant to the cake and remove air bubbles. If an air bubble appears, insert a pin on an angle, release air and smooth the area again. Use the straight edge of the smoother to mark fondant at the base of cake. Trim off excess fondant using a spatula or sharp knife.

Step 5
Your cake is now ready to decorate.

Rolled Fondant (Large Rounds)

In most cases, the smaller your cake, the easier it will be to cover with rolled fondant. However, there is an easy way to position and smooth fondant on cakes that are 12 in. diameter or larger. Follow the steps below to lift fondant onto the cake without tearing.

Step 1
Cover cake lightly with buttercream icing. Roll out fondant sized to your cake.

Fondant Amounts to Cover Cakes

Step 2
Slide a large cake circle that has been dusted with confectioners' sugar under the rolled fondant. Lift the circle and the fondant and position over cake. Gently shake the circle to slide the fondant off the board and into position on the cake. Smooth and trim as described above.

Covering Shaped Cakes with Buttercream

This particular guide demonstrates how to ice the Castle Pan by Wilton. It is a good example of how to use buttercream icing to decorate a shaped cake. Visit for tutorials on decorating techniques using icing.

Step 1
Ice sides and background areas per instructions smooth. Pipe in small details per instructions.

Step 2
Outline main shape and details.

Step 3
Cover details with stars, stripes, zigzags, etc.

Step 4
Cover remaining areas with stars or decorations per instructions. Add message or numbers.

Step 5
Add star, shell or bead borders around base of cake or detail areas per instructions. Position flowers or other decorations.

wilton credit

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