After all that work of baking, filling, frosting, stacking and decorating your cake, you have come down to the last task: writing on the cake.
We understand that it can seem terrifying, but don’t worry, we’re here to help calm your nerves with a few tips and tricks!
1. Write first
It is really tempting to save the writing until the very end, but it is best to write the message before decorating the top of the cake. This way, if you make a mistake while piping, you can easily fix it without ruining the rest of the decorations.
One of the best ways to practice is to print out your message in the font and size you would like to copy. Place the paper under a sheet of parchment paper and start piping. Writing in cursive can be the easiest way to pipe words, but piping block letters can be done as well.
3. Check your spacing
A great way to practice is on a parchment circle the size of your cake. This will help you better envision the spacing of the lettering and the decorations. Plan ahead so you know where you want to place everything.
4. Piping tips
The size of your piping tip can make or break the final look and feel of the cake. In the image above I piped the exact same phrase in a Wilton #3 tip (left) and a Wilton #2 tip (right). I find the wording on the right much more elegant and the wording using the #3 tip to be bulky. Neither one is wrong, but be careful that your piping does not detract from the design of your cake.
5. Freehand writing
Once you have practiced your font, it’s time to write on the cake. I like to imagine the cake cut into four pieces with straight vertical and horizontal lines. If you need to center your letters, start by counting the number of letters and spaces in your phrase, like so:
Happy: 5 letters
Birthday: 8 letters
This means that the first “p” in Happy is the center letter for that word and that the “t” and “h” split the center in Birthday. When writing in print, I write the center letters first.
Then finish the end of the words, starting at the top.
Then write the letters going left of the center letter. (So for Happy, I write in order “p,p,y,a,H”)
This technique will help make sure that all letters are evenly spaced and centered.
6. Transferring the image
There are many ideas out there about how to transfer your lettering onto your cake so that you can trace the letters rather than free-handing it.
I have tried many of these techniques, such as poking holes around the letters or running a toothpick along the letters to leave small indentations as a template. I have even heard of piping your words backward on parchment paper then flipping it over and lightly pressing it onto the cake to leave a slight template to pipe over.
I have not been successful with these methods, but others may find that they work.
Wilton carries a set of letters that can be combined and pressed into fondant or buttercream as a template for piping, or they can be left as indentations in the fondant.
7. Practice, practice, practice
You may have beautiful penmanship on paper but it may not reflect in your piping. Practicing first is very important. Even professionals spend time practicing before each cake. It is difficult to get your spacing and letter size all in a straight line the first time, so be sure to give yourself some time and practice.
What is your favorite technique for writing on cake?
To learn more about piping with buttercream, check out the online class Piping Buttercream Borders with Roland Winbeckler.
Or if you’re just starting out, learn all about the basics of working with buttercream in The Wilton Method: Buttercream Skills with Beth Somers.