Essential Guide to Birthday Cake Decorating

Do you want to create an amazing birthday cake? Cake decorating is much easier than it may seem at first. Using a bit of buttercream, cake, and creativity, you can make some very beautiful creations. With fondant, you can make even more artistic, sculpted designs. Use this guide and the accompanying resources to wow your guests with a beautiful cake at your next party.



By far, the most popular icing used to decorate cakes is buttercream frosting, which is often composed of confectioners’ sugar, cream, and butter (or shortening). Buttercream is a smooth frosting, which hardens only a bit when it dries. To put icing on, you’ll want an angled spatula or frosting spatula. Getting one smooth surface with no crumbs takes time and quite a bit of practice. Sometimes, cake decorators will first put on a thin “crumb coat,” let it dry, and then put another layer on top to create a smooth finish.

Once your cake is covered, there are a variety of ways that it can be decorated. The simpler methods include just using a fork or spoon to create designs, or simply topping the cake with fruits, candies, sprinkles, or sugars. To step up your game, you’ll want to invest in pastry bags, cake tips, and couplers. Using these tools, along with yet more buttercream frosting, you can create borders, dots, flowers, or even learn to write on the cake.



If you want a stiffer, harder frosting that can be formed and molded to create cool shapes worthy of a show on the Food Network, you may want to consider learning how to use fondant icing. Fondant is often made up of some form of gelatin or marshmallows. It can also be bought off of the shelf, though this is a less healthy option since this version usually includes a great deal of hydrogenated oil. The fondant is formed into a ball and rolled out like a pie crust, and then carefully folded over an already-frosted cake. In order to roll it properly, a more experienced baker will require a roller, some confectioners’ sugar, and a plastic tool to eliminate air bubbles.

Fondant can be used to imitate fabric on a wedding cake or make a surface look smooth and uniform. Pieces of fondant can be cut out and used to create polka dots, borders, and extra decorations. Fondant molds can be pressed into the fondant to create even more pretty shapes. Gum paste is a harder version of fondant, and used for sculpting unique figures such as animal or superheroes.

There are several cons to using fondant, however. The taste is not as appealing as buttercream, cream cheese, or other frosting options. Fondant is also more difficult to work with and is usually recommended for more experienced cake decorators trying to create something new and fun.

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