For those new to cake decorating, being brave enough to start a cake can be the hardest part, but we want to help with a few tips and cake designs for beginners that will help you build your repertoire of techniques and have you producing beautiful cakes right off the bat.
Photo via Wendy Woo Cakes
Tip# 1: Start simple
I know you may want to jump straight to three-tier masterpiece, but that will only make you frustrated, so start simple with a beautifully crumb coated buttercream cake with fondant polka dots and fondant ribbon roses.
Perfecting your crumb coat will be one of your most important techniques, because fondant will show every flaw in your buttercream, so take your time. Remember, covering a cake in buttercream is a two-step process: Crumb coat and final coat with some fridge time in between.
For more detailed, step-by-step guidance on working with buttercream, sign up for the FREE mini-class Modern Buttercream with Joshua John Russell.
Tip #2: Fun and simple fondant decorations
After you are feeling confident in your buttercream skills, you are ready for fondant! Why not try a simple but stunning cake like the one Craftsy member monix made above? Circles in either a random or symmetrical patterns bring fun and whimsy to any cake. Apply the circles to the fondant with a paintbrush using lemon extract or vodka -- water can cause your fondant to soften too much, making your colors bleed and your decorations can slide.
Learn secrets for working with fondant like a pro in Elisa Strauss' FREE Craftsy mini-class Basic Fondant Techniques.
Tip #3: Cover it up
Every decorator makes mistakes, fondant and buttercream are imperfect mediums, they have good days and bad days, and they are affected by weather, humidity levels and age, so they can be finicky.
If you make mistakes and can’t fix them, find a way to cover them up! If you are nervous about your first two-tier cake or you have a tear in your fondant, add cascading flowers or polka dots or candy to cover up your mistakes. I heard a professional cake decorator once say that the difference between amateurs and pros is knowing how to cover up mistakes.
Tip #4: Modeling figure fun
Want some practice modeling figures like the ones in Sharon Wee's Craftsy class Cake Topper Techniques: Fondant Animals? Penguins are a perfect place to start. They are round, cute and can stand on their own. Carving a dome shaped igloo is also a great place to start practicing cake carving.
Tip#5: Flowers and piping are a fresh and fun combo
Most beginners agree that piping is the scariest technique, so make it fun! Start with vines that swirl of cascading fondant flowers. This technique helps you practice piping while still bringing your own whimsical touch to the cake. Remember to pipe royal icing on fondant cakes and buttercream on buttercream cakes.
Turn your fear of piping into your favorite technique with Joshua John Russell in his popular Modern Piping class.
Tip #6: Molds and royal icing decorations are easier than you think
Sea-themed cakes, like this one made by Craftsy member Evyone, are always a hit, no matter the occasion. This beautiful cake combines many techniques that will build your skills as you dive into cake decorating. Start with the chocolate sea shells, which are made using a chocolate mold. Mix up your favorite color and pour in your chocolate or candy melts. After a little while in the fridge, your shells will fall right out of their molds. You can airbrush or paint them any color you choose.
The coral on this cake is made using royal icing. A day or two before you decorate the cake, draw your coral on paper, slide it under wax paper or parchment paper, then pipe your coral. Let this air dry for 24-48 hours (you can also make these a week ahead, the longer they dry, the better). Make sure to make plenty of extras, royal icing tends to break easily.
For more great tips about working with royal icing check out Colette Peters' Craftsy class Vintage Cakes, Modern Methods.
Tip #7: Stretching your imagination -- do you dare?
As your number of sugar techniques grow, your skills will improve and soon you will amaze yourself and your friends and family with beautiful and delicious cakes. To stretch your limits, a topsy-turvy cake may be exactly what you are looking for. This fun and simple design by Craftsy member SophiaSophia features circles, stripes and quilting -- it's perfect for baby showers and birthdays. Learn to make a gum paste bow to add to your cake.