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How can I use different toppings to decorate a cake?
Before you go wild with some amazing cake decoration, take a moment to consider the toppings - fondants, icings, pastes and colourings - you have at your disposal to help make your baked creations look as good as they taste.
Each type of topping material has its own consistency and malleability that suits different textures and styles of decorations for your cake, depending on what you're trying to achieve. Knowing the tools of your trade - the many cake decorating supplies available - could be the difference between a masterpiece... or a 'disasterpiece'.
Edible Cake Toppings
Soft and flexible, fondant can be rolled flat into a perfectly smooth surface, and then used to cover or wrap a whole cake. You can also cut shapes out of your fondant using special fondant moulds that you press into the fondant, like cookie cutters.
Fondant moulds come in a huge variety of shapes - leaves, flowers, bows, stars, animals... so much to choose from! But, if you've got something particularly unique in mind, you can always use a fondant cutting tool for your own custom design.
While fondant is available in pre-coloured or plain white options, once it's covering your cake, you can use a paintbrush and edible, food-grade paint (or even edible gold leaf for something super-luxurious) for additional colours, illustrations and decorations.
Perfect for hand-moulding, gum paste dries hard, so you can use it to create highly-structured models and edible cake toppers, just like modelling with Play-doh.
Hardening into a stiff and sugary shape, royal icing is also great for creating solid decorations - think of the intricate details on a gingerbread house or a crispy cover on Christmas biscuits. You can thin your royal icing by mixing in extra lemon juice or water, and use the thinned out mixture to 'flood' surfaces.
Soft, luscious and silky, buttercream icing is ideal for piping onto cakes, cupcakes or cookies. Use a shaped piping nozzle to create a beautiful, decorative flourish.
Apply buttercream icing to your cake with a palette knife or spatula, and then use a decorating or cake turntable to ensure even coverage. Buttercream is available in pre-coloured and plain white options.
Icing Tubes & Pens
Icing tubes and pens contain pre-mixed, coloured icing that you can use to write, draw and decorate your baked goods with precision.
Gel icing comes in a tube or in a tub that you can use alongside a piping bag, similar to icing tubes and pens. The difference is the consistency - gel icing provides a smooth and shiny finish, while icing tubes and pens have a matte texture.
A specialised glaze, donut icing coats the top of a donut for that characteristic sheen and thick, sugary texture that we all associate with the look of traditional donuts.
Food colouring can be used to add colour to homemade icing or pre-made white icing.
A fondant mat creates the perfect surface for rolling your fondant and gum paste. These mats come with measurements marked on them so you can roll the correct size for your cake without having to guess, and you can also cut shapes that are all exactly the same size.
Fondant mats are durable enough to withstand your cutting, just like cutting boards, and they're also non-stick so you can easily remove the icing without losing its shape.
Adjustable Rolling Pin
An adjustable rolling pin lets you roll your fondant to the same height. You just select the height you need and the pin will automatically stop you from rolling down too far.
An icing turntable helps you spread the icing smoothly and evenly across the cake.
A tilting turntable works in a similar way to an icing turntable but you can adjust the angle of the plate to make it more comfortable for you to use.
Simple (But Effective) Cake Topping Tips
- Spray your icing or cakes with a colour mist that for a delicate, airbrushed effect.
- Place a doily on top of your cooled cake when you're dusting icing sugar or decorating dust over the top of cooled cakes for a subtle finish.
- Decorate your baked creations with hundreds and thousands (which come in a range of shapes and colours) and non pareils or cashous (which are those small, shimmery and edible metallic balls and sugar pearls).
- If you're not confident with your modelling abilities, purchase pre-made figures and models that you can then attach to your baked goods with edible glue.
Looking for more inspiration for your baking? Check out our other cake decorating guides below.
Want more party ideas?
Check out Spotlight's party hub online, visit your local store or contact one of our experts for assistance.