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My Top Cake Decorating Tools
Stop collecting and get decorating! The best gear for making beautiful cakes.
Overwhelmed by the cake decorating aisle? Wondering if you need dozens of piping tips, various spatulas, or specialty brushes? I’m going to let you in on a secret…
In my 15+ years of cake decorating, most cakes coming out of my kitchen are made with the same 5 tools.
Top 5 Cake Tools
I, too, have a drawer full of one-use tools, every size spatula and palette knife available, a caddy of piping tips, baskets of sprinkles, edible glitter, etc. However, it’s these same 5 tools I grab nearly every time I settle in to make a beautiful cake. From my signature watercolor design to rosette-covered cakes, you will be surprised how many different cakes you can decorate without needing a shed full of supplies.
1. A sturdy turntable
I’ve had my Ateco turntable ever since I had my own bakery nearly 13 years ago. It’s a bit more of an investment, but as you can see, it will last you a lifetime. When I teach, I use the same plastic turntable as my students and it works just fine. Whichever fits your budget, a rotating turntable is seriously going to up your icing game.
2. My trusty offset spatula
My offset spatula is likely my most used kitchen tool. Period. As you can imagine, it is especially valuable for spreading fillings and frosting cakes. The offset handle makes it so that you can smooth out the frosting without your fingers getting in the way. For most cakes coming out of a home kitchen, either a small (5 to 6 inches) or medium (around 8 inches) should work.
3. Icing smoother/comb
For super smooth frosting, you will need an icing smoother. Either metal or plastic, anything with a straight edge should do. A basic bench scraper works fine, but I stand by this versatile Ateco icing smoother/comb. Again, this is a tool that I’ve had since the very beginning of my cake days. It’s seriously cheap, has different ridges on the sides to create various patterns, and will last forever.
4. Simple piping bag
You can only get away with using a plastic zip-top bag for so long (trust me, that was my first piping bag too). Piping bags are inexpensive and exceedingly easier to find at craft stores or online. Disposable are convenient, but having a few reusable canvas bags are great too.
5. Large star piping tip
I’ve collected more piping tips than I’ll ever need in this career. But my most used tip is definitely the Wilton 1M star tip. If you have one, you know. Use it for the frilliest borders, icing swirls, and perfect rosettes.
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Beyond these basics, it is fun to play around. I love to experiment with different piping tips to see what shapes and patterns they make, and I particularly enjoy mixing various shades of buttercream to create different color palettes. Here are some of my nice-to-haves to add to your collection:
Various piping tips
The 1M is still my most used tip. A 104 petal tip comes in a close second (think ruffles and buttercream flowers). Beyond that, keep your selection small with a few different sizes of star and plain round tips. I promise you don’t need more than that. You can even snip a piping bag into a “V” shape to make your own leaf tip.
This little device allows you to change the tip on your piping bag without having to refill the buttercream in the bag. So easy!
An essential kitchen tool, I like to keep a few of these within reach when I’m baking and decorating. I’m partial to GIR spatulas because they are super sturdy (I’ve broken far too many wooden-handled spatulas), heat-safe, and come in various sizes. The pretty colors are a bonus.
I love sprinkles of all kinds. Sparkly, pastel, shaped quins, and sugar pearls - I like them all. Just make sure to taste your sprinkles before adding them to a cake. Sprinkles have a shelf life and can go bad. Can’t find the exact shape/color you want? Make your own mix!
Gel food coloring
I highly recommend concentrated color paste over regular liquid food coloring. They are not as messy and mean you aren’t adding a liquid to your recipe. Americolor makes countless colors and Wilton has a color mixing system that you can use to achieve the perfect shade of buttercream.
Get your toolkit together and stay tuned for some BRAND NEW cake decorating ideas for spring coming soon!