Our simple guide will help you rise to the occasion and create bakery-worthy desserts you can be proud of.
Everything in this slideshow
How to Prepare a Cake for Decorating
These tricks make it easy to decorate your cake evenly-and without the mess.
1. Use a serrated bread knife to level the cake layers. With the cake flat on the counter, carefully shave off the dome of the cake.
2. Gently brush off any crumbs, then freeze the cake for at least 15 minutes. If freezing for over 1 hour, wrap in plastic wrap and foil.
3. Fill and stack layers, then use a thin coating of frosting to lightly cover the cake. This "crumb coat" keeps loose crumbs from ending up in the pretty outer layer of frosting. Refrigerate 10 minutes.
How to Use Ganache and Stencils
Dress up a simple layer cake with this elegant-but easy!- technique.
1. Set unfrosted cake on a cooling rack over a sheet pan.
2. Pour the warm ganache over the top of the cake, tilting the pan to help it spread. Chill until set.
3.Set a stencil on top of the cake and use a mesh sieve to dust powdered sugar over the image. Carefully remove the stencil. (To make your own, draw your design on parchment paper and use an X-Acto knife to cut it out. Or, for a quick fix, use a shaped scrapbook punch.)
How to Make Swirls and Edges
These decorative elements make a homemade cake look bakery-bought.
1. Use an offset spatula to apply the frosting. Mound frosting on top of the cake and gently work it to the edges and down the sides.
2. Make swirls on top with the back of a spoon, using gentle pressure and lifting the spoon straight up after each movement.
3. Crushed nuts or cookie crumbs are a great decoration for the side of the cake. Cup them in your palm and gently press them into the side of the frosted cake.
How to Pipe
These pretty flourishes also hide any imperfections.
1. Set a pastry bag in a tall glass and fold the edge down over the rim. Use a large spoon to scoop the frosting into the bag.
2. Roll the bag edge back up and twist the top of the pastry bag to lock in the frosting. Use your dominant hand to hold the bag at the twist and control the flow of frosting. Use your other hand to "steer."
2. For clean lines when piping, make a full stop and release all pressure before gently touching tip to cake and lifting bag straight up.
Mini Sweet Stack
Piping techniques can be overwhelming to beginners, but the scaled-down size of our Mini Sweet Stack makes it more manageable. Simply bake a 2-layer- size packaged cake mix in a 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Use a 4-inch round cutter to cut 6 circles from the cake. Crumb-coat and frost the rounds to create three 2-layer cakes. Fill a disposable piping bag with tinted frosting and start decorating.