How to Decorate a Cake

Use these easy tips and instructions to learn how to decorate a cake like a pro! Find helpful hints for frosting a cake, filling a pastry bag and more cake decorating tips.

cake, decoratingPhoto: Shutterstock/UfaBizPhoto

Must-Know Tips for How to Decorate a Cake

1. Start With the Right Cake Baking Tools

Making and decorating a cake is a whole lot easier when you have the right (and the best) tools for the job. Whether you’re new to baking cakes or just want to make sure you’ve got a full “toolbox”, check out the essential cake baking tools every home baker should have.

2. Start With a Blank Slate

Decorating a cake with a flat top is best. When the oven temperature is too high, cakes develop rounded tops. Use an oven thermometer to check the temperature of your oven.

Pro tip: To flatten a cake with a small crown, put a plate on top of it immediately after you take it from the oven. Push the plate down gently.

3. Prep Your Pan

Line your pan with parchment paper to ensure that the cake will come out of the pan easily. Learn how to grease your cake pan.

4. Cover Sides With Ease

To apply nuts, sprinkles or coconut to the sides of a cake, hold the cake over a pan and gently pat the nuts, etc. onto the sides with your hand.

5. Plot Out Your Message

Before writing on a cake with icing, gently outline the words with a toothpick.

Psst! Practice your writing on a paper towel or plate before you begin.

6. Keep Your Station Clean

To keep the cake stand clean while frosting, line the edge with 3-inch strips of waxed paper. Center the first cake layer over the strips. When finished frosting, carefully remove the strips one piece at a time.

Cake Decorating Ideas

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To decorate your cake with graceful swirls, all you need is the tip of a spoon. To apply, scoop a generous amount of frosting onto the back of the spoon. Place the spoon on the cake with its tip in the 12 o’clock position, then swirl the spoon in a half circle to the left, ending in the 6 o’clock position. Repeat until cake is covered.


Run the tines of a table fork through the frosting in a wavy motion.


Use the back of a tablespoon or teaspoon to make a small twisting motion in one direction. Then move the spoon over a little and make another twist in the opposite direction. Repeat until entire cake is covered.

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Starting on the edges, run the side of a table knife to the center of the cake. Repeat until the whole top is covered. Using the same knife, make vertical stripes around the sides of the cake.

How to Fill a Pastry Bag

1. Secure the frosting tip and coupler on the pastry bag. Place the tip of the pastry bag in an empty tall glass. Fold the wide opening of the bag halfway over the glass.

2. Use a spoon to transfer frosting to the pastry bag. When it’s three-fourths full, pull the sides of the pastry bag up over the frosting. Remove the bag from the glass, twist the open end to close it and apply pressure to the bag to pipe the frosting on.

Cake Decorating Tips

Basketweave Tip

Open Star Tip

Round Tip (Large)

Leaf Tip

Drop Flower Tip

Closed Star Tip

Round Tip (Small)

Try These Techniques on One of Our Favorite Cakes
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