Designer Bites

Beginners Guide to Covering Cakes

So you want to start making your own wonderful creations but lets start with the basics

Covering a Cake

Know you will have to decide whether you would like to decorate your cake in buttericing or fondant

If you choose the Buttericing route to decorate then you have two options – you can choose to crumb coat your cake first or your cake just start piping with buttericing

Know for those of you who don’t know what crumb coating is it is basically a thin layer of plain buttericing applied to the outside of the cake to create a smooth even surface

Please also remember that most cake sponges will require you to cut and level the top of them before stacking them – a couple of useful tips is to ensure you get a good quality long knife (not serrated) and also I also use a spirit level – this is one of the best ways to check that your cake is evenly cut as the eye can sometime be inaccurate

Also ensure you have a turn table in order to crumb coat – it is not essential but is definitely much easier if you have one – although they can be a bit pricing for the home baker it is well worth it in the long run – it is a very useful and hand tool

Once you have crumb coated your cake you can then apply the fondant on top of the cake – always apply the fondant onto NON fridged buttericing – also the more practice you have the more you will get used to the way the buttericing temperature needs to be in order to apply your fondant over

Know one piece of advice I can give is there is a lot of great videos and chats online about fondant but the biggest thing to bare in mind is that we live in South Africa and the reason I say this is because weather places a big part in the world of cakes – in summer in South Africa you have to get the temperature balance of buttericing correct or two things can happened either your buttericing will be too soft and start to melt or if you fridge it then take it out and cover straight away you will the find you will get air bubbles that form (or as we like to call it in the industry – a CAKE FART) which is basically as the buttericing starts to soften from the fridge it creates an expansion causing your fondant to push out and create an air bubble – this doesn’t always happened straight away when covering the cake but as it is left over an hour you will see these start forming – you however don’t need to panick – you can use a scriber tool to prick a hole in the air bubble and smooth over with your fondant smoother – although if you fondant starts to dry it may cause the fondant to slightly crack – again don’t panick – rub a small amount of Holesom onto it and it will reform the crack

I am going to post a video in the next couple of days of me crumb coating and covering a cake for you all to see – One thing to remember is with time it will get easier and better – practice makes perfect so don’t give up and don’t dispar we have all been there and there are still days where I have what I call a BAD Fondant Day – so bear that in mind even the best of cake decorators don’t get it right all the time even with all our years or experience and practice

If you are not sure of the tools I am describing click on the Basic Tool Guide For Cake Decorating tab I have created so that you can get familiar with the names of the tools

Keep Checking for the video of how to cover a cake which as mentioned I will post in the next couple of days

Basic Cake Decorating Tools

Here is a guide to the basic tools you will need for cake decorating

If you would like to buy any of the tools you can buy them from local Cake Shop Suppliers or contact me

Cake decorating tools pic

Here is a list of the basic tools you will require to do cake decorating

Rolling pin: Do try and see if you can get a long one. Because you can also use it to “roll up” your fondant and transfer it to the cake. Use a shorter and smaller one when you make decorations. You can get rolling pins in non-stick and wood.

Non Stick Board: This is essential for rolling out fondant – you can choose to either buy a board or use a non stick silicone mat

Smoothers: A pair of smoothers really makes the different when it comes to smoothing fondant.

Cake smoother pic

Angled spatula: Makes it more easy to apply buttercream frosting on the cake.

angeled spatular

Cornstarch duster: I use this when I roll out my fondant or sits and make decorations. You can make one very using a ladies stocking – just fill the stocking with cornstarch and tie it at the top and you have a duster

Modelling tools: A good set of modelling tools will help you when you are making figures or flowers. I like the sets from JEM and PME.

Basic Tools

Piping bag and tip: In the beginning I only had one piping bag, a coupler and a pair of decorating tips. Start out with round, star and leaf. They are still the ones I use the most.

Colours & dusts: There are different brands of paste/gel colours on the market today.  Remember that colours like black and red can be hard to obtain from regular paste/gel colours, they tend to use alot of gel but again this will come with practice. Colour mixing will come with practice – when you have free time experiment with colours – use small pieces of fondant and see what colours you can come up with  – a nice trick is to use a colour wheel and see if you can match up the colours – this will give you a good starting base till you get used to quantities to mix

Dusts are like eyeshadows they comes in all the colors of the rainbow and it can be hard not to buy too many ???? So a white pearl lustre dusts and a couple of plain dusts is good to start out with. You can mix your own shimmer dust by mixing petal dusts with pearl lustre dust.

Cutters & embossers: An easy rose cutter is always a good rose cutter to start out with. I also like the ejector cutters and you can now get a nice variety of ejector cutters with leaves, blossoms, calyx ect.

Miscellaneous: Clear alcohol for mixing colours & dusts. A small non-stick board. A good cake decorating book. Soft and fine brushes for painting. Toothpicks for adding colour and small painters palette for mixing colours but also for drying small flowers are good basic’s to have in your tool box.

Cake Decorating can be expensive but remember that start small and just keep adding to your toolbox

What is Cake Decorating

So what is cake decorating?

(From Wikipedia)

Cake decorating is one of the sugar arts that uses icing or frosting and other edible decorative elements to make plain cakes more visually interesting. Alternatively, cakes can be molded and sculpted to resemble three-dimensional persons, places and things.

Cakes are decorated to mark a special celebration (such as a birthday or wedding). They can also mark national or religious holidays, or be used to promotecommercial enterprises. However, cakes may be baked and decorated for almost any social occasion.

Types of Cake Decorations

Cake decorations are adornments or embellishments that are placed on top of around cakes. Cake decorations can be made of edible material or food-safe plastics.

Fondant exists in many different colors, and its initial form is soft and easy to handle. In this form, cake decorators are able to mold fondant into many different artistic expressions. Many of these expressions are also taught in professional cake decorating classes. Fondant is primarily used to cover cakes, but it is also used to create individual show pieces for cakes.

Royal icing is a sweet white icing made by whipping fresh egg whites (or powdered egg whites, meringue powder) with icing sugar.[3] Royal icing produces well-defined icing edges and is ideal for piping intricate writing, borders, scrollwork and lacework on cakes. It dries very hard and preserves indefinitely if stored in a cool, dry place, but is susceptible to soften and wilt in high humidity.

Sugar paste is a substance used in cake decorating to create flower decorations. Marzipan is often used for modeling cake decorations and as a base covering underneath fondant.[3]

Gum paste, also known as florist paste, is an edible, brittle material that dries quickly and can be sculpted to make cake decorations such as flowers or molded designs.[4]

Cake Decorating as an Art

A cake sculpted to look like a cheeseburger with fries

Vivid imaginations have taken cake-decorating to a brand-new level.

Decorating a cake usually involves covering it with some form of icing and then using decorative sugar, candy, chocolate or icing decorations to embellish the cake. But it can also be as simple as sprinkling a fine coat of icing sugar or drizzling a glossy blanket of glaze over the top of a cake. Icing decorations can be made by either piping icing flowers and decorative borders or by molding sugar paste,fondant, or marzipan flowers and figures.

This has become a form of unique artistry. A person’s imagination can create anything. From a single layered cake, decorated simply, to a multi-layered 3 dimensional creation, that is decorated with edible ribbons made of sugar. What was once a fun way to make a child’s birthday cake, by cutting shapes out of cake and piecing them together to create a shape, has gone into preformed character pans, and now has become shaping creations out of fondant and different forms of marzipan.

Using this new form of fondant artistry should be used on a heavy cake consistency. It can, however, be used on the traditional cake mix purchased in a store. Fondant is heavier than traditional knife spread frosting. Pre-made fondant that is available in the cake decorating section in stores has little flavoring. A homemade fondant can be made quickly for very little cost. Homemade fondant tends to have a better flavor than the pre-made store bought version

Welcome To Designer Bites

Welcome to Designer Bites Blog

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We specialise in all things PARTY so browse through our website and should you require anything please feel free to contact us 011 022 4575 or

This Blog will help all you aspiring Cake Decorators giving you useful tips and videos so you can also create the most amazing cakes or just ’cause you want to learn more about cake decorating

Just to give you a brief explanation of who I am:

My name is Tondi and I own Designer Bites

Cake decorating is a great way to express an artistic talent.  I have decided to create this blog to assist other aspiring cake decorators out there as knowledge is power and we are all ever learning new things in the cake decorating industry as it is so exciting as it ever changes

So feel free to email me if there is something you would like to know or something you think would be worth sharing on my blog