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Do you remember the first cake you ever decorated?
I remember mine! It was a cake for my Dad for Father’s Day back in 1996. All American Style Buttercream made with the small Wilton starter kit of tips. I piped basket weave on the top with some flowers using the tips from my very first cake decorating tool purchase.
I was SO proud of that cake!! It was at that moment when I was bitten by the decorating bug. I look back on it and realize, “Wow…I was really a beginner!” But now, over 20 years later I’ve come a long way, (although I STILL see other cake artist’s work and think “I’ll never be that good.”)
As I’ve improved, so have cake decorating tools. There are so many more options available these days and new innovative tools and techniques are popping up all the time.
Here are 5 of my favorite tools and/or ingredients that have helped me step up my cake game!!
#1 – Food Safe Silicone Cake Molds
Holy cow, are these amazing!! I remember trying to hand-mold embellishments for cakes, like pearls (rolling EVERY single bead in my palms? No thanks!) And forget about making a precise filigree or Chevron stripes!
I love these so much! I’ve purchased quit a few over the last few years…choosing the ones I know I’ll use over and over! One of my favorites is the sweater pattern mold! So cute for holiday “sweater” cakes and cookies, or how about a knit winter scarf?
I also really love the intricate patterns that can be used as borders and embellishments as I did in this cake:
#2 – Food Safe Reusable Putty (make your own molds!)
While it’s awesome to have so many choices to purchase food-safe molds, what about making your own? I LOVE Evil Cake Genius and I purchased Reuse-A-Putty a while back and I’ve “reused” it SO many times.
Food-grade putty that you heat in the microwave until it’s pliable, then push the object which you would like to make a mold of into the putty, let cool/harden, remove your object, and BAM!! You have a food-safe mold you made yourself! And the best part is, just reheat and repeat!
I’ve made so many different things with it, but one I use a lot is a pine cone for forest and winter themed cakes.
#3 – Rice Krispies Treats
Whoever came up with using these delicious treats as a cake decorating staple is a freakin’ genius!! The first time I used them in a cake project was to create vegetables for a cake that looked like a basket from the garden. I wish I had a picture of that one, it was pretty cool!
Now I use them for all kinds of things! Mostly to make items for cake toppers – why? Well, first of all, they are delicious! Secondly, they can be squished and pushed and molded into just about any shape for your base structure. Then, they can be covered in modeling chocolate or fondant to finish off your piece. I’ve made LOTS of small cars as cake toppers recently, like this one:
#4 – Edible Image Printing Systems
What if someone asks you if you can add their logo onto a cake? I make a lot of cakes and cookies for corporate events, and this comes up all the time! Before I had my food-safe printer, I would go through all kinds of steps to try and replicate a logo that did NOT look like a toddler made it!
I would cut pieces of fondant and try to put them together like a puzzle, or I’d use food markers to attempt to “draw” it…let me tell you how that would turn out! Spoiler alert! Not good.
Then I decided to take the plunge and purchase my very own edible printer system! I researched what was available, and in the end I went with a Canon Pixma MG6820 from Icing Images. I loved that ordering from them, it came fully outfitted to be food-safe, with refillable “ink” cartridges (food coloring, of course), they have awesome customer service and a ton of tutorials on how to get the best results.
I really do love the high quality (and edible) images and patterns I can get! The same car cake above also had an edible image pattern around the base that I printed using my Canon:
#5 – Cricut Cutting Systems
What the heck is a Cricut? You might ask…I know. I didn’t know what it was until recently, let alone know that you can use them to step up your cake game.
So, a Cricut, according to Wikipedia is “the brand-name of a product range of home die-cutting machines used for scrapbooking and various projects, made by Provo Craft & Novelty, Inc. of Spanish Fork, Utah. The machines are used for cutting paper, felt, vinyl, fabric and other products such as fondant.”
I had seen lots of YouTube videos of cakers using these to cut precise shapes out of all kinds of edible medium (fondant, gumpaste, wafer paper, and sugar sheets). After seeing how amazing the results were, I decided to go ahead and add one to my cake tool collection.
Again, I chose to purchase mine through Icing Images since it would come completely outfitted for food safety. They even include food-safe mats to use, with all the instructions / settings for the various cake decorating medium you would use!
I have to be honest, that it took me a while to really get into using it – not because it isn’t awesome, but because I didn’t know where to begin. But, I watched video tutorials on Icing Images and finally got the hang of it!
Now I don’t know how I ever got along without one! I used it on the cake below for the leaves and the “60” topper (leaves are from wafer paper and “60” is a sugar sheet that was then mounted onto gumpaste):
I hope you’ve enjoyed this first post of the series “Step up your cake decorating game!” I’ll be adding posts with more of my favorite tools and ingredients that have really pushed my cakes up a level!
Cupcake Regards, Nicole
Owner / Lead Instructor, Angel Foods & Cake Business School
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