Top 15 Cake Decorating Tips

Genbumom’s Top 15 Cake Decorating Tips!

I started out baking birthday cakes when we found out my son was allergic to peanuts. We called local bakeries, searched stores, but had no luck finding a cake that could be deemed 100% peanut free or not made in a facility with peanuts.   So, I started making cakes myself.

It saves me money.  It’s a creative outlet.  It can be time consuming, so I often bake cakes the evening before and ice the next day.

My son has since been cleared to eat tree nuts, which has means I can now use (SOME) Wilton food colorings for my cakes. (Note: A few Wilton colors are still made in a facility where peanuts may be present so always check the Wilton colors before use, but many are just tree nuts). Always check labels.

I stared experimenting with fondant early this year and I’m addicted.  If you can play with playdoh you can use fondant.

Lately, I buy the pre-made fondant at the store (quicker, easier and less mess for this busy mommy!) A tasty homemade marshmallow fondant recipe is linked here: * I have used this before and it turns out very well, but follow the instructions carefully to avoid any lumps.

Needless to say, I’m a proud of hard work I’ve put into these cakes. I really enjoy making them and seeing everyone’s enjoyment!

Top 15 Cake Decorating Tips:

* Indicates the tip came from my decorating mentor Debra S.! Two of her cakes/cupcakes are featured below.
  1. When making a 100% fondant covered cake always do a double layer cake with icing in the middle. It will taste better for the guests who peel off and don’t eat fondant.
  2. Use crafting Popsicle sticks to hold your cake layers together. No need to buy the specialty cake rods! Just warn your guests they are in the cake!
  3. * Coat any pan very well with Crisco and flour (you don’t want to see any shiny spots) this will help your cake slide out easily. If vegan, use cold-pressed coconut oil.
  4. * Always do a crumb icing layer before fondant or your final icing layer using tips. Always.
  5. * Put the cooled off cake in the fridge for 10-15 minutes prior to doing the crumb icing layer and sprinkle with powdered sugar to help avoid crumb sticking to your icing.
  6. Put Crisco on your hands and under your finger nails prior to mixing food coloring into fondant to avoid dyed hands and finger nails.
  7. When using a star-tipped icing cap- wipe if off frequently.
  8. If your icing starts to get runny and not “dot” onto the cake well, put it back in the fridge for  5 minutes so it’s not runny. Your hands will warm up the icing through the plastic accordion so you have to get it cold/more solid again.
  9. Don’t invest in the super expensive accordion style icing and tip decorating kits. I purchased a 3 piece kit at a Dollar Tree store and it has lasted me for 2 years. It came with two plastic accordions and 3 tips.
  10. You can use playdoh shape cutters for shapes. See the dinosaur cake- that was made using a kid’s sandwich cookie cutter. You don’t have to invest in a ton of specialty fondant cutters. Look around your house what you can wash and then use. Kid’s plastic toys can be used to make impressions. I’ve used toothpicks as well.
  11. Invest in a few fondant tools: A cutter with a few interchangeable rollers, a fondant roller are my go-to’s. I don’t feel you need a fondant board to roll out the fondant on. Clean very well, Crisco, and flour your countertop very well to avoid stains.
  12. To make fondant circles: Roll a small amount in your handle into a ball and simply press gently to flatten. It’s easier and quicker (in my opinion) than cutting out small circles with a tool.
  13. Use a dot of icing or Crisco to “attach” fondant decorations.
  14. To smooth out fondant mistakes, rub Crisco or coconut oil on top. If it appears greasy or shiny a TINY amount of flour can be rubbed in to reduce shine.
  15. * To smooth out icing (not fondant); dip your knife in warm water in between spreading the icing. A large icing spatula really helps.

Bonus Tips!: Make a batch of circle-cut sugar cookies (my favorite recipe is here) and use any leftover fondant to make a few simple star or heart decorated cookies for your guests to take home. Never waste!

Share your food colors with another crafty mom. There is no reason to invest in 20 colors yourself, when you can share. Wilton colors last a long time when stored properly and just a few toothpick dots of coloring is all that is needed.

Now the Cake Pictures! {and more tips}

Here are two amazing wedding cakes my cake advisor Debra S. has made. She also makes the most delicious cupcakes with surprises fillings in the middle. Yum!

Traditional Wedding 3-Tiered Fondant Cake with pearlescent shimmer, beading, ribbon and flowers:

Each layer of this cake was a different flavor. It’s simple, classy, and gorgeous.

Penguin Love Cake and Wedding cupcakes:

The cupcakes were dark chocolate with mint chocolate chip frosting and miniature chocolate chips and vanilla with raspberry fililng and white chocolate raspberry frosting.

Tip to liven up vanilla cupcakes: Grate real vanilla beans directly into the cupcake batter prior to baking. *



The Genbumom Cake Menagerie:

Elmo cake pan reused to make a Cookie Monster cake. Reduce and re-use! I had not started using fondant yet…just a lot of star tipped icing work!

To use the  Elmo cake pan to make a Cookie Monster cake: Simply remove the nose and change the mouth shape a bit.  Add some cookies around the face. That’s it.  So easy!

Getting a little more creative with these Dr. Seuss cupcakes I made for Halloween. We love our themed-Halloween costumes at the Genbumom house!

Dr. Seuss Cupcakes:

These were easy. Bake in red liners, print black and white photos of Dr. Seuss characters, color, and glue to toothpicks. Stick in cupcake.

Glue Thing 1 and Thing 2 circles onto another red cupcake liner and add on the outside of the cupcake.


img_5820 I hand drew and colored a favorite Dr. Seuss quote  and glued to cardboard and used a craft stick for the sign below.

My son’s costume was just a red onesie,  felt cut-out letters, and a lot of hand sewing. His hat was bought at a Party City store.

He wore that hat for two winters, he loved it so much! Total cost of costume was about $15. (The onesie was from a used clothing shop).

Winnie the Pooh Cake:

This was a double layer cake, covered in icing and smoothed with the warm water/ knife method above (#15). Piped green icing along the base.  I used store bought decorating gels for the water stream and black outlines.

I had to order the bee decorations (edible sugar) from the internet as well as the (non-edible) Pooh characters.  The flowers sugar decorations were bought at Meijer.

The ‘Hunny Pot’ was made from a fake coconut I found at a dollar store. I then used yellow felt for the ‘honey.’


And the Fondant work begins…

Avengers Cake:

My first fondant cake. I just used this approach to mentally attack my first try at fondant: It’s like playing with play-doh.

I used a few internet pictures to help on the superhero logos. I was so glad I had a fondant cutter!

I use this Wilton cutter/embosser tool:
Wilton Cutter Embosser












The Captain America Shield was easy, a series of circles and a star. The Thor Hammer, super simple. Rolling the fondant and shaping letters was fairly easy.

There are small letter- cutters you can purchase:
Wilton 417-7554 40 Piece Alphabet & Numbers Fondant Cut-Outs Set

Iron Man and Hulk were more of a challenge, but a 4 year does not care for perfection!

Bee Cake for a Spring Birthday Celebration:

The complete Bee Cake how-to is linked here.


Flower Cake {Perfect for Birthdays or Wedding Showers}:

I  used a series of plastic cookie cutters that I bought in varying flower shapes and balls pressed into circles for the flower middles. It was a very easy cake. This was also the last time I made my own fondant. I ended up with a few bubbles and chunks in it and was not happy with that!

The Wilton cutter and embossing tool was used to make the vines/leaves.

I invested in a mid-size cake round set and I’m happy I did. Perfect size for small birthday or surprise cakes.

Dinosaur Cake {Birthday cake}:

img_8265Cookie cutter stars were used.  A dinosaur sandwich-cutter was used for the Dino shape and the embosser tool.

This cake was made so I didn’t waste any cake mix or fondant after making the flower cake, so my son got a bonus dino cake that day!



Hello Kitty {Birthday Cake}:

A faux pas happened here… I forgot Hello Kitty’s whiskers but no one noticed!

I think I like the braided popsicle stick the best.  Just cut three long slices of fondant in 3 colors and ‘weave’ together like a braid.


Fondant Baseball Cookies {Baseball themed BBQ & Baby Shower}:

You only need 1 round cookie cutter.

To do:  Bake cookies, (this is my favorite roll out sugar cookie recipe. ), allow to cool, and add a layer of icing (both vanilla and chocolate were used).

Roll out white fondant and make fondant ‘baseballs’  and press on top.  A red decorating sparkle gel was used for details.

I hope you have enjoyed the run down of the delicious and fun wedding, birthday, and specialty cakes.

It’s a labor of love but worth the effort for lasting memories!

If you are going to make cakes for specialty occasions to sell, make sure you are charging your customers for ingredients used, any special materials ordered,  and your time.   I would suggest charging the labor by the hour.

Some cakes take 2 hours and some 3-4 hours to create so charge accordingly.  And of course, invest in a nice camera and take plenty of pictures!


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