Cake Decorating for Beginners

There are few things more rewarding than creating a cake that looks as good as it tastes, but with practice you can get there!

A few years ago I took a cake decorating class. I hadn’t had any cake decorating experience. At all. But I thought, “Hey…this could be fun!”

And you know what? It was fun! Cake decorating is an excellent creative outlet. And so much better than painting or drawing…because in the end you can EAT your creation.

Cake Tips for Beginners title image

If you’re just learning the ropes of baking, decorating a cake can be an exciting (and daunting) challenge. Where do you even start?

We’re here to help with just a few handy tips when you are ready to try your hand at decorating cakes.

Cake Decorating Tips


1.Make sure you have the tools you need to succeed.

If your current frosting technique involves scraping buttercream all over a cake with a butter knife, it’s time to change! Here’s what to invest in:

  • A flat silicone spatula. Your spatula will help apply your frosting to smoothly cover the surface.
  • Some piping tips and bags. The piping bag and tips will come in handy at the end! You can use those to add a fun border around the edge or write a message across the top.
  • A cake leveler or large, serrated knife. You’ll use the leveler or knife to shave the domed top off of your cake for a smooth surface to frost. and
Cream Cheese Frosting in cookies

2. Have some patience.

It can be tempting to try to frost your cake as soon as it feels a little cool. However, it’s important to wait until the cake is completely cool. Applying frosting to a warm cake will leave you with a melted, runny mess. And when you get to that point, there’s often no way to fix the damage.

It will often just take a few hours for the cake to cool completely. You can leave it in an airtight container overnight if you’d like.

3 . Make your own frosting.

For the beginning baker, making frosting or icing from scratch can be a little intimidating. However, have you ever stopped to see what’s actually involved in homemade frosting? All you need to whip up a simple buttercream is butter, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. Blend until you’ve reached the right consistency, and voila ….you’ve got frosting from scratch.

The next time you’re tempted to cheat and pick up a can or two of the store-bought stuff, look over the ingredient list. The sheer number of preservatives and additives might be the jolt you need to make the switch to the homemade frosting.

Our Favorite Frosting Recipes

4. Have a vision.

Before you begin to frost your cake, stop and ask yourself what you’d like the finished product to look like. It’s easy to get excited and launch into the process without pausing to plan, but if you don’t consider your options upfront it might lead to disappointment down the road.

Sketch your idea out to ensure your cake has enough surface area to accommodate your design.

easy mint chocolate cake

5 . Don’t get too ambitious.

It can be tempting to try to recreate the most beautiful cake you’ve ever seen, but it might take a bit of practice before you’ve tapped into advanced techniques like sculpting sugar flowers.

Try to keep things simple with the “less is more” approach. Start with a simple layer of icing, adorned with fresh flowers or berries for a splash of color. Your guests are sure to be impressed.

One of our favorite simple decorated cake is this Reese’s cake. It’s mostly chopped up candy decorating the cake, but it looks decadent and impressive.

Reese's Layer cake

About Julie Clark

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So pretty, and really so simple, thanks for the inspiration.

Hi Julie, your cakes look awesome. Do you have a recipe for pistachio cake by any chance? My husband loves pistachio desserts and I thought for Father’s day or even his birthday in August a pistachio cake made by his wife (me) would be awesome!

Thank you
Sylvia S Najera