Best Cake Decorating Tools for Beginners
With popular television shows like Ace of Cakes and Cake Boss, the interest in cake decorating seems to be growing. The very ambitious are enrolling in pastry schools across the world, hoping to be the next pastry artist featured on Food Network Challenge. There are also some that are buying books and supplies in order to learn at home, or in their local craft store. Whichever cake decorating route is decided upon, one of the first things an aspiring decorator needs to do is buy the right tools. Having the right tools in any craft is absolutely necessary for success. Here is a list, in no particular order, of everything a beginning cake decorator will need.
#1 - A Stand Mixer
In order to whip out batter and icing quickly and efficiently, a good mixer is needed.
Best – Kitchen Aid Mixers are the best on the market right now. There so many are multiple uses for this mixer and just as many different attachments. Another cool feature is the wide range of colors it comes in. You can easily find one that will look great in any kitchen. Another great feature is the flat beater, dough hook, and wire whip; they come standard with each mixer. Although I don’t own a Kitchen Aid, my mom does and I have used it on many occasions. My favorite thing about this mixer is how sturdy the bowl is. You can set it on mix and then walk away to gather other ingredients. The downside about the mixer is the price. As a SAHM the price tag is a little more than possible at the moment.
Good – I own a Sunbeam mixer and it works great. I have to admit I am a little old fashioned, and I prefer the old style steel beaters to the flat one on the Kitchen Aid. They remind me of licking the beaters after my mom baked cakes when I was young. This mixer also came with dough hooks. However, it did not come with a wire whipping attachment. Although the Sunbeam mixer doesn’t come in a wide range of crazy colors, mine is stainless steel and looks great.
# 2 - Spatulas
Spatulas are not expensive, and they are a very important tool when icing a cake. I find that it is best to have them in three different styles: a large straight one, a small one, and one that is offset.
Best – I really like the new silicone spatulas. The icing seems to smooth out easier with these than my metal ones. The Chef’n Zip Flip Icing Spreader even has a large spreader on one end and a smaller one on the other.
Good – Wilton’s metal spatulas have always worked great too. I own several of them in all sizes.(http://hubpages.com/hub/howtoiceacaketipsandtools)
# 3 - Pastry Bags
There are quite a few different kinds of pastry bags and everyone seems to have a different favorite.
Best - I have tried a lot of different pastry bags and the ones I choose to use are the plain, clear disposables. I like being able to see which color icing I’m grabbing right away. The other great thing about these is that they are pretty cheap, so I just throw them away when I’m done. Cleaning out pastry bags is not fun.
Good – Wilton Featherweight is another one that I’ve used. They work great and I've met many who prefer them, but I still like the clear ones the best.
#4 Tips and Couplers
In order to decorate you have to have tips and couplers (the white plastic piece that attaches the tip to the bag).
Best – The best set of tips is Wilton’s Master Set. My husband surprised me and bought these for Christmas several years ago. The set comes with 52 decorating tips and a case to carry them in. When I have extra time and icing I like to go through and find the more specialized tips that I don’t use as often and experiment.
Good – Beginners don’t necessarily need the big set right off. The 28 piece Deluxe Set is great. If you just want to buy a few tip individually the basics are round, star, rose, and leaf tips.
#5 Food Color
For variety and a good over-all presentation a cake has to have some color. The eye is also drawn toward color and away from mistakes. Decorating an all white cake for your first try isn’t a good idea.
ONLY – Food color doesn’t have a best and good. It just has an only. This is because the Wilton paste coloring works the best when you are working with icing. Any other kind just doesn’t cut it. For the most vibrant and best blended color Wilton paste is the only kind.
#6 Cake Boards
If you plan on decorating cakes for others, possibly as a business, you need cake boards. I have lost nice cake carriers to customers who say they will return them and never do.
Best – The best thing to do is to find a cake supply store that sells cake board individually. I buy mine at The All In One Cake Shop. They sell them separately and already wrapped in cake foil. I can buy each size I need without buying 10 of each.
Good – Local craft stores sell multi packs of the Wilton cake board and they work just fine, but they usually come in packs of ten or more.
#7 - Cake Pans
There are several different types of pans. One of the newer crazes seems to be the silicone pans. I think they are difficult to work with and very hard to wash. The best pans are metal pans with straight sides. A beginner decorator can get by with a 9 x13 and a set of round pans.
Best – I like the Wilton Sets that come with multiply sizes. They hold their shape well and don’t rust easily.
Good – Any sturdy pan with straight sides will work, but darker pans can bake faster and may require a baking time adjustment.
#8 - A Good Book
A book on cake decorating that demonstrates a lot of different techniques will help a beginner tremendously. I have spent hours studying and practicing techniques with various books. These are my two favorites.
Best – Wilton’s Decorating Cakes book helped me the most in the beginning. The explanations are simple and easy to follow and each one has a simple picture to demonstrate. I read this book the most when I started decorating and cried when I lost it in a move.
Good – The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum is an awesome book. It has detailed recipes and instructions for everything I can think of that involves cake and pastry artistry. The reason why I didn’t list it first is I feel it might be a little over whelming for a beginner. Those who have been decorating for years and need good ideas would love this book.
Cake decorating is very fun and a great creative outlet. These tools and supplies would help any beginner who is wondering what to get as they start the learning process. One of the things I love the most about decorating is that anyone who is interested can go into their kitchen and start experimenting. You don’t necessarily have to attend Culinary School to excel if you have to right equipment and take to time to practice the techniques. I learned by watching and helping my mother decorate for years and have grown to love it!
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