Tips and Tricks Part 2 – Decorating top 10

As promised… here is part 2 of my tips and tricks. Again this is just the way I do things and lessons I have learnt along the way 🙂

  1. For piping and stenciling, the royal icing should be relatively stiff (like whipped cream) and not runny. If it’s runny, it will just bleed. The best way to achieve this is to beat the royal icing with a mixer (make sure the icing sugar is sifted too). Always cover the bowl of royal icing with a damp cloth to prevent it from crusting when not in use. Similarly, cover the tip of your piping bag with a damp cloth to prevent the royal icing from hardening in the tip.
  2.  For extended tiers, the rule is if the height is more than the diameter (for example if the cake is 9in high and 8in in diameter), than wrap the fondant around the tier. If not, you can cover the tier as per normal.
  3. When designing, bear in mind any seams or ‘pressure points’ in decorating. For example if you are wrapping the fondant around the tier, there will be a seam where it joins, or sometimes, the bottom of your tiers may not cut off evenly. Design something that will hide these.
  4. When making figurines, ensure there is enough support! Just like we have a backbone your figurines will need a skewer all the way down the body and through the head.
  5. If your figurines are large, ensure the head and body have time to harden and dry before putting them together, or else they will sag and flatten.
  6. Styrofoam is an amazing medium. It is light and will enable you to create things that are structurally impossible out of cake or fondant. There is no magic way to carve styrofoam. You just need a serrated saw/knife and sandpaper. Oh, and you need to be able to think in 3D… and beware, it’s messy!
  7. Purple and certain shades of blue and pinks fade instantly (I mean within a couple of hours you will see a difference). It’s a matter of knowing which colours/brands do this and to keep it in mind when decorating. Perhaps by colouring it a shade or two darker.
  8. When making tiered cakes, ensure that all the tiers are the same height! This might seem like a no brainer but it be very obvious once all the cakes are stacked together. 
  9. Think about the total weight! A 6 tier cake might sound like a beautiful idea but will you be able to lift/move it? The last thing you want to do is break your back over someone else’s cake! Either assemble on site or construct half of it with stryofoam.
  10. Learn how to carve a cake properly. Don’t be tempted by shaped tins. You may be able to bake a cupcake shaped cake easily, but that tin may only serve 20 people. What happens when you need to make a cupcake shaped cake that serves 40 people? There will not be a 3D tin for every serving size you require.

4 thoughts on “Tips and Tricks Part 2 – Decorating top 10

  1. Hi Sharon, thank you again for your insight into cake decorating, I have one question though. When you said you wrap the taller cakes to ice them, does that mean you ice the top separately?

  2. Hi Anonymous, yes you can do it separately. But I usually bunch the top and cut off all the excess icing in the middle. It’s messy in the middle, but as long as another tier is going on top of that, it’s not a problem. Hope that makes sense?

  3. Hey Sharon

    When you talk about icing (in your answer to anonymous) are you referring to buttercream icing?

    I’m confused about the wrapping around the tier – I’m assuming that’s for rolled fondant/plastic icing?

  4. Hey Sharon,

    That was a great cake! Great job!
    I still have the topper for display in my room. 🙂


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