The first step to creating a beautifully decorated cake is having the right tools. Just like a painter or carpenter needs certain fundamental tools to get started, a cake decorator is often lost without them.
To decorate like the pros, it often involves searching beyond the decorating aisle at Michael's. Here, the cake decorators at Teaspoon Bake Shop give you a look at what's inside their bags – and why you should make these tools a part of your baking arsenal if you want to make the perfect cake.
Some of these instruments we are about to recommend are things you would expect to find in a kitchen, but others are more surprising. All of them will make a big difference when you're attempting to wow friends and family with your edible masterpieces – so don’t scoff at the less expected devices!
Here's a look at the unconventional tools that will help with buttercream and fondant decorating:
The serious decorator will need a box that's large enough to hold all her tools, some of them being rather large, like our first recommended tool, a PVC pipe. While most decorating aficionados know that PVC piping is a helpful way to build 3D cake sculptures, we also love to use the strong sturdy pipe to roll out fondant and lift it over the cakes we cover.
Another unusual instrument in our tool box is a large spackling knife. This common fixture in any painter’s arsenal can be found at any hardware store and should measure at least 4 or 5”. While many decorators use spatulas and bench scrapers to ice their cakes to a perfect buttercream finish, spackle knives can cover more surface area and the contoured handles make them easy to hold and maneuver. Just make sure you keep your spackling knife reserved for baking!
For multi-tiered cakes, dowels are crucial to support the stacked structure of the cake. Everyone has their own method for cutting dowels (some cut before putting them in the cake, some do so after). Whenever you do cut them, we recommend using heavy duty gardening shears. Shears will cut through wood or plastic and give a nice, clean cut.
Small figures with tiny features and cupcakes with carefully placed dragees require steady hands and precision. The use of eyebrow tweezers is especially helpful for small tasks where clumsy fingers fail.
Here's a list of more common (but no less essential!) tools that we always keep in our decorating tool kit:
Set of decorating pastry bag tips
Cutters (numbers, alphabet, circles and flowers are musts!)
Small rolling pin
Cross off all of the tools in this more traditional checklist, as well as those in the less expected list, and you’ve got yourself a pro decorating kit to create a masterpiece cake out with!