Over the years I have tried MANY different baking and cake decorating tools. Some I have loved, some I have not. Some I thought I loved until I found something that did the job so much better! So today, I thought I would share my favorite tools that every cake decorator needs. If you're just starting out, this is a good basic list to get you started. If you've been doing this for awhile, I highly suggest checking these things out if you aren't using them already!*
1. Offset spatula I mean, can you even decorate a cake without one of these? I have tried several brands of offset spatulas and I'm happy to report that they all work the same. I use them for crumb coating, spreading fillings, basic frosting, lifting cakes and buttercream flowers, mixing in gel colors, etc. In short, I couldn't survive without them.
2. Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer I could lie and tell you that using a hand mixer will suffice, but that's not what I'm here for. Any baker worth their salt needs a stand mixer. Are they cheap? No. Will you regret buying a quality mixer that will last for years? Absolutely not. I whole heartedly believe that Kitchen Aid mixers are the best consumer level mixers. As my business has grown, I have upgraded 3 times, most recently to the largest size available to the general public. Their tilt-head Artisan line is more than enough mixer for occasional bakers. If you don't want to drop the cash on a new Kitchen Aid, you can usually find a quality used model on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.
3. Turntable A cheap turntable and an offset spatula were two of the first caking tools I bought on my own when I was still in college. You really cannot decorate a cake without one. I have since upgraded my turntable to this one, and I'm confident it will carry me through for many years to come. If you're not ready to invest in one like this, I still say purchase a low dollar one. I use this version for my hands-on cake classes and they serve my students and I well.
4. Cake Pans. If you're new to cake decorating, do yourself a favor and purchase quality pans at the beginning. I spent the first few years using low quality pans (that are commonly found in craft and big box stores), then slowly switched over to my personal favorite brand: Parrish Magic Line. In my opinion, their quality can't be beat. The thickness of the aluminum pan gives you a perfectly even bake every time, making additional products (pan liners) unnecessary with the exception of larger cakes, in which a heating core is always recommended. Side note: these have to be hand-washed, or the dishwasher oxidizes the aluminum.
5. Bench Scraper. I have purchased and tried so. many. products in this area. Dough scrapers, bench scrapers, frosting smoothers, whatever you call them, my favorite type are these super cheap, super basic white plastic bench scrapers. They are beveled, so one side comes to a nice point. This allows you to get that smooth buttercream finish every time. Everything else I've tried doesn't compare.
6. Kitchen Scales. In order to get consistent results in baking, you have to weigh your ingredients. Never have I ever gotten 2 cups of flour to weigh the exact same amount. You know what I have done? Measured the EXACT right amount hundreds times using my kitchen scale. It takes the guess work out of measuring, and that makes me happy.
7.Fondant Roller. Chances are, if you're interested in cake decorating, you're wanting to learn about fondant too. While I typically don't cover a lot of my cakes in fondant, I DO make nearly all of my decorations out of it. For that, I couldn't live without this little fondant roller. It's only 9 inches long, and the perfect size for rolling out small pieces of fondant for detail work.
8. X Acto Knife. While we're on the subject of fondant, you'll need an X Acto Knife to cut all those details and decorations out. This basic blue handled knife is my favorite, and I've been reaching for it for years. I just keep a steady supply of new blades on hand and I'm good to go!
9. Gel Colors. You should always use gel colors in your frostings or fondant, NOT liquid colors. My all time favorite brand is Americolor. Their colors are always true, and I find you can use a lot less to get your desired color than other big box brands. I'm very sensitive to the aftertaste of gel colors myself, so the least amount of coloring I have to add, the better.
10. Shelf Liner. This seems so minor compared to all the other items, but I use shelf liner WEEKLY in my kitchen. How do I keep my cakes from moving around on my turntable? Shelf liner. How do I keep my cakes from sliding around in boxes? Shelf liner. I know it's not something you would think of, but it's a staple in my kitchen!
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