Cake Decorating

I’m thinking of learning a new skill, cake decorating! One can never have too many hobbies, right?

I can do some really basic decorating, and I’m a good baker, but I want to learn more. Wilton offers classes, at a few places near me, so I may start there - has anyone done this? Worth the money/time?

I’m also fishing for some more immediate cake advice - I’m planning on making something fancy-looking for a Halloween party I’m having. Simple, but interesting - I want to do a two-tiered cake, probably square, with spider webs. But I don’t know what the best way to do spider webs would be. I don’t want to do something like this, which looks cool, but isn’t at all what I’m going for. I want it to look more like this, but maybe more like it’s been draped on the cake, rather than drawn on with icing. And black, since the frosting is going to be light (pale purple, or white if I can’t get a purple I like)

I’m not averse to using fondant for the web, I’m just not sure what the best way to do this would be.

First of all, good for you. It’s cool to be able to decorate cakes, combining artistry and skill in one package. It’s a skill that evokes considerable amazement and respect.

Be prepared to spend time practicing, it is harder than it looks. If you remember what it was like in elementary school to practice tracing outlines of letters when you were learning to write the alphabet, it’s a lot like that. A lot of slow, deliberate, focused effort and repetition. Eventually you’ll get the hang of it and it will become much easier.

One tip: buy a big can of cheapo shortening. If you warm it up very slightly it’s about the same texture as buttercream frosting, you can practice piping with it and re-use it almost endlessly.

Thanks for the advice, and the shortening tip! As a bonus, I won’t be tempted to eat it while I’m practicing :smiley:

It’s been a long time since I took the Wilton class, but it was well worth it to learn the basic techniques. I’m afraid it may have all changed since then, though. I still get the annual yearbooks, and the focus seems to have moved from icing art to fondant. Blech.

Back in my day (and I’m about to really date myself) the **Big New Thing ** was Wilton shaped cake pans that were decorated using star tips. The classes were very good at teaching technique - piping lines, words, flowers, leaves, royal icing roses, coloring, sugar molding, and how to assemble tiers. My class consisted of (I think) five weekly meetings, at which we would bring a single layer cake and prepared icing. We left with a gorgeously decorated cake to show off to our friends and neighbors. It was a great basic foundation, and then you could practice the more difficult techniques on your own.

A lot of today’s fancy cakes (like what you see on TV) are the result of creativity & thinking-outside-the-box.

I took the Wilton course with a niece, and we both enjoyed it. Our classes were mostly how to do simple flowers, leaves and piping. Make sure you have a heavy-duty mixer when you make icing. It’ll burn out a cheap hand-mixer motor in no time flat.


I do love my Kitchenaid mixer!

Right now, they offer four courses - a beginning one for basics, like simple flowers and decorations, “flowers and borders”, which I assume has more difficult flowers than the basic one, one that focuses on fondant and tiered cakes, and a more advance fondant class that includes gum paste sculpting.

I took the Wilton classes about 2 years ago and had a great time. I - like you, enjoyed baking, and wanted to learn some techniques to make my desserts look more pretty. I took the intro, flowers/borders and fondant classes. (Didn’t take the 3rd class, since the teacher said it was more flower/wedding cake design than anything.)

I don’t really like using fondant on my cakes. If I’m going to make a cake, and my own frosting…why cover it with fondant? It does have some cool applications especially with gumpaste to make little figures n such, but most people I serve much prefer to have icing on their cakes. Plus it’s one less thing I have to keep in the kitchen!

As far as a spiderweb, maybe pipe something using chocolate? Let it harden and place on the cake. Kind of like this?

That might work! I may also just go with something similar to what I linked to in the second picture, with the webs drawn in icing. I can dye chocolate icing dark enough - it doesn’t have to be pitch black, I’d rather have it be edible, and not leak all over the cake. I’m with you on fondant, too. You can make some really beautiful stuff with it, but it doesn’t taste good.

I’m going to make a practice one on Thursday - my co-workers are my cake guinea pigs (not that they’ll mind). I’m buying my basic ingredients tonight, so I have them around, and since I’ll be near Michael’s, anyway.

I think I’ll make some chocolate clay spiders, too. has some posts on spidery looking treats.

And aren’t all co-workers, family members and friends eligible for guinea pig status? Whenever I’m hungry for something (was great during pregnancy for everyone), I make something and send the rest to work with my husband. Up until a few weeks ago they asked if they needed to buy me some flour and eggs because I hadn’t made anything in awhile! Good luck!

Absolutely take the classes if they interest you, but you might also get a lot farther than you think with just a book, the supplies, practice and time. Or find someone who’s already into cake decorating and have them teach you.

My mom’s an OK amateur cake decorator - she and her sister decorated all the wedding cakes in my family - and I’ve helped her out and have learned a lot. I’ve never decorated my own cake, but I’ve made roses and leaves for her. I doubt I could do writing, ropes, or swooshy things, but I can do roses.

Anyway, just the book and practice might get you some way down the road.

Thanks Snickers! Books are pretty much how I learned to knit, so that might work too. I do want to take a class or two, but probably not for a few months. My local Michael’s has the Wilton classes, at least the first one, every month, but Nov. and Dec. are out for me, since I’ll be out of town for at least one class.

However, it is cool when Cake Boss steams the fondant and makes it shiny.

Bumping for pictures of the cake!

Here is the cake. The picture isn’t the best, but you get the idea.

A close-up of one of the spiders. They are chocolate clay & licorice. I added a bit of black food coloring to the chocolate clay to make it darker.

The setup at the actual party.

I like it, I had fun making it, and the cake is homemade and came out great, too. The top layer was white cake, the bottom dark chocolate.

I need some practice making things neater, though.

If you ever put words on a cake, be sure to use other people as spell checkers, for Og’s sake.

What, you mean you wouldn’t want a cake like this for…whatever holiday this is supposed to be for?