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Cake Decorating: Tips & Techniques


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Hey Chris -

Your cake looks AWESOME.

I wanted to post a general question to anyone who might read this.

I live in NYC and have always wanted to learn the art of cake/cookie decorating. Does anyone know of any place in NYC that offers those types of classes? And for a relatively low price?

Thanks :smile:

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  • 3 months later...

I'm asking for a friend (you've never seen me do a cake because I'm no good at it). A friend who is not a professional decorator, but is pretty handy based on other things I've seen, is doing her daughter's quincienera cakes. She's serving 300!

She is looking for ideas for simple decorating that would be appropriate for the event as far as age and formality. Quincineras are a big deal (family coming in from all over the US and Mexico). The daughter is obviously turning 15 so she's too cool for Cinderella-esque decorations, but not so cool that she isn't excited about the theme. Any ideas that won't blow the budget, time constraints, etc.?



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Hi Rob,

I looked through the spectrum of craftsmanship over flickr and combining debut+birthday+cake gave what was probably the most appropriate solution..


Another suggestion I have came to me by thinking of the fairy tale "The Princess and the Pea. I thought, how cool would it be to have a cake that looks like 40 expensive mattresses skooshed together? It reminds me of a design I saw by the Philippines-based company Pastrybin, which is made of cakes sculpted like pillows and wrapped in fondant. It would be very easy to turn this into a cake that would wow the most picky 15 year-old, and you could save time by using actual ribbon and lace for the trim. The decoration might be stenciled then sprayed on (I've seen those Wilton spray-on colors, dunno if they look great), piped on, painted on, or you could use dragees...

I hope this helped! Sorry, I'm not a professional either so I hope I didn't sound like I was talking out of my *ss. :smile:

Edited by jumanggy (log)


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I think fresh flowers are always a good addition. They add a lot of pop with minimum work. Picking several in the pink color range always looks pretty. Add them between layers if there's room or just stick them into the side of the cake so that they make "polka dots" (I did this for a "dot" themed party for a friend).

Just ask a flower shop to get organic or wash the stems with a mild detergent before pushing them into the cake.

Edited by emilyr (log)

"Life is a combination of magic and pasta." - Frederico Fellini

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Hmmm... how about a big cupcake tree? They're popular, modern and trendy. Some people don't like them but I do, especially if a non-professional is attempting a big cake that's going to be on display. Cupcakes are easy to make and transport and they can be made to look elegant with some buttercream flowers. Or you can dress up cupcakes with pre-made decorations at sites like weddingfads.com or gailwatsoncake.com.

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When I think of fairy tales and a teenager, the movie Ever After with Drew Barrymore comes to mind http://imdb.com/title/tt0120631/. Your friend may want to watch it for some inspiration. It's a more adult version of Cinderella. I also think of glitter and sparkles. There's one scene in the movie where Drew Barrymore appears dressed as a fairy with large wings and is all dressed in silver, opal, irridesent materials and she sparkles. If there was a way to carry that through to a dessert... You need Kate to do some brainstorming.

Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Orison Swett Marden

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Get the birthday girl and her friends in on the act -- one lovely custom is the hiding of fortunes to be pulled out by guests. Little trinkets like rings or charms for bracelets have ribbon tied to them and they are placed all around the cake, in between the cake and the board, with the ribbon sticking out. It looks very festive and is a lot of fun.

Today's definition of "princess" is not always frilly and pink -- the birthday girl might be more up for rhinestones and "glam," which is easy to do with cookies in the shape of purses, shoes, tiaras, even cars and cellphones.

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  • 3 months later...

My friend's daughter (12) wants to learn to bake and decorate cakes. She loves the show "Ace of Cake" and wants to make cake like Duff. For her birthday, she asked for baking/decorating supplies. I gave her one of my KitchenAid mixer, several baking books and a Pooh baking pan. Now, I'm looking for decorating supplies for her.

So, what decorating items should I get her? She has no experience and wants to learn. She wants to try using icing as well as fondant. Any idea on what basic tools she should have? What about a good book or two for beginners? Also, should I get her pre-made icing/fondant to experiment with? Or would it be better for her to learn to make icing/fondant?

I can help her with the baking, but I have no experience in cake decoration. Please give me some guidance.

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When I was 12, I was making frosting. I'm thinking making her own will help her learn the textures etc to use for the various techniques. Also has to be much cheaper. I'll be interested to see what the more experienced have to say.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Small and large angled and straight spatulas, some disposable and regular pastry bags with tips and rings, a flower nail, colors and flavors for the icing, maybe a stand and strong cake board.

It can get expensive, so just the basics at first will probably suffice.

Wilton has sets that have all of the necessary stuff in them.

Edited by Terrasanct (log)
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i think the "whimsical bakehouse" book would be great for a 12 year old. it describes (with pictures) most steps in layering and making cakes (including the "topsy-turvey" cakes that are so popular now).

the colors are extravagant and fun and most of their information seems sound, so it would be a good place to start.

they list all of the equipment needed as well.

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A great book for beginners is IMO one from Wilton. It is called something like 'the Wilton school of cake decorating'. It is a paperback with a pink cake on the cover, with icing roses on top. That book clearly shows some basic techniques in icing as well as fondant. I found it very useful when I had never seen anything decorating related years ago. Other than that, I'd give her some bags and some basic cake decorating tips (Wilton sells them in sets), some spatulas, maybe a few icing colors and a package of fondant so she can play some. Hope that helps!

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  • 2 months later...

I'm a lurker only, as well as an admirer; my cake decorating days are far in the past, and were a clumsy, small-town thing.

I hadn't heard of this poster, but she sent me a PM with a question and I followed her link to this:


I cannot tell you how GORGEOUS her work is---the cabbage alone is prize-worthy.

Have you all seen this site? Wow.


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  • 8 months later...

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