British Girl Bakes Logo
Free Cake Decorating MasterCourse | British Girl Bakes
Free MasterCourse
British Girl Bakes Logo
Free Cake Decorating MasterCourse | British Girl Bakes

10 Cake Decorating Shortcuts

Use these 10 cake decorating shortcuts to skip the turntable, piping bags, textured cake combs, fancy stencils, custom cake boxes and more!

#1 Smooth frosting

Using a cake comb to scrape around a cake doesn't guarantee you smooth frosting. If your buttercream is too stiff or has air bubbles, even 100 scrapes won’t smooth it. Here’s a shortcut: scoop up a third of the buttercream and microwave it for 10 seconds.

When you stir the melted buttercream back into the main bowl of frosting, it will thin out the consistency. As a bonus, you'll get rid of any air bubbles in the process!

cake decorating shortcuts to smooth frosting with buttercream microwave hack
microwave hack for buttercream

This microwaved frosting will glide effortlessly as you spread it onto your cake. Your cake comb will whisk away the excess to leave a silly smooth surface behind.

#2 Textured Frosting

Cake combs come in all sorts of patterns that can be used to texture the frosting on a cake. But do you really need to buy a new one every time you want a different texture? Nope! Just grab your offset spatula or palette knife or even a spoon instead. Press it against the cake just after frosting it, while the frosting is still soft. Drag slowly upwards to create grooves, spiraling up the sides of the cake like this:

textured cake comb shortcut using a spoon

Or pull straight up to make vertical swooshes, or use arc motions to create this rustic texture instead:

textured frosting shortcut using a spoon

It’s quicker, easier and cheaper than mastering cake comb texture! Learn more ways to decorate cakes with no tools in this tutorial.

#3 Turntable hack

If you don’t have a turntable you can still achieve perfectly smooth frosting on your cakes! Take the ring or wheel out of your microwave and place your cake board on top. Now spin the cake board just as you would on a turntable! The little wheels will make the cake spin almost effortlessly as your cake comb leaves a beautifully smooth surface behind.

microwave hack shortcut to frost a cake

#4 Cake decorating shortcuts for piping bags

Run out of piping bags? Don’t panic! Spoon your frosting into a ziplock or sandwich bag and push it down into one of the bottom corners. Then cut the tip off the corner and twist the bag tightly where you grip it. When you squeeze, you’ll push the frosting out through that hole just like you would with a piping bag. Now you can pipe dots, beaded borders and lines without a piping bag!

using a ziplock bag instead of piping bag for cake decorating

#5 Cake decorating shortcuts for piping tips

If you have piping bags but no tips, cut the end off the piping bag to leave a small hole. Now you can create dotted or pointillist designs by piping hundreds of dots! The longer you squeeze the piping bag while holding it still, the bigger the dots will spread out the be.

how to use piping bags for cake decorating without piping tips

You can even use a piping bag with no piping tip to write pretty messages, like this!

writing messages on cakes with piping bags with no piping tips

#6 Couplers

A coupler allows you to switch a piping tip between different piping bags. If you don’t have a coupler, use this cake decorating shortcut! Drop the piping tip into a piping bag and prepare different piping bags, without piping tips, filled with coloured frosting. Lower the first coloured bag into the bag with the piping tip.

cake decorating shorts for couplers for piping

As you squeeze the bag you’ll push the coloured buttercream through the piping tip that’s in the other bag. Pipe all the details you want with that colour first. Then lift the coloured bag out and drop the next one in. Squeeze the last of the previous colour out into a bowl until you see the next colour come through.

how to use piping bags without couplers

Pipe the details with this colour and repeat for as many colours as you want to use. Remember each time to squeeze out the remainder of the previous colour into a bowl before piping onto the cake. With this shortcut you can switch quickly between several colours, all using just one piping tip. You'll save time by not having to wash and dry anything in between colours and no coupler is necessary!

#7 Cake decorating shortcuts for piped flowers

To pipe intricate flowers you don’t need a flower nail and parchment squares and several different piping tips. Skip all of that by using Russian Tips as a shortcut! Combine multiple colours by stirring them together slightly for a marbled effect. For more control, pipe colours onto a piece of plastic wrap using a different colour for the middle.

saran wrap log for piping with russian tips

Roll the plastic up tightly around the frosting to make a log. Then twist both ends of the log and cut one end off.

cling film log for piping with russian tips or flower nozzles

Drop the cut end down into a piping bag with any flower shaped Russian Tip inside. These are my favourites:

how to use russian tips to pipe flowers with buttercream

Squeeze and release to pipe detailed, colorful flowers with individual petals in seconds!

how to pipe flowers with russian tips or flower nozzles

Add more with a leaf tip, conveniently filling in any gaps in between the flowers!

piping leaves with a leaf tip 352

#8 Stencils

Stenciled cakes are stunning but stencils are expensive to buy for every cake you decorate. Instead, grab a roll of parchment paper. Cut a piece out a few inches bigger than your design and draw or trace your design onto it.

how to make your own cake stencils

If you’re using different colours, use a different piece of parchment paper for the details of each colour. If your design has 4 colours, you’ll have 4 stencils.

homemade cake stencils cake decorating shortcuts

Cut the design out, keeping the surrounding paper intact.

You’ll need a cold cake for stenciling, so that the buttercream frosting chills and sets and gets really firm. I leave my cakes in the fridge for at least an hour before using stnecils. This way you won’t damage the frosting when you press the stencils against it.

When you take the cake out of the fridge, tiny beads of condensation will form after a few minutes. Wrap your homemade stencil around the cake and it will stick to the condensation! Spread frosting over the design you cut out, being careful not to spread it over the edges of the parchment and onto the frosted cake. Scrape off the excess with an offset spatula or cake to leave a thin, smooth layer behind.

how to stencil on buttercream cakes
cake decorating shortcuts for stenciling

Peel the paper off and voila! Use a toothpick to tidy up any smudges or texture on the buttercream

Repeat with the rest of the stencils, if you’re using more than one colour. Put the cake in the freezer for about 5 minutes in between each stencil to set the previous colour. If you don't, the parchment paper will smudge the details you’ve already stenciled onto the cake.

layering stencils to make characters on cakes

Tadaa! Easy homemade stencils to make neat designs that are completely customizable!

#9 Flat cake layers

For even, level layers you could trim the tops off with a serrated knife to get rid of the domes. Save time by using baking strips instead. To use these, soak in water for 5 minutes and then squeeze so they're not dripping wet. Place the strip around a cake pan and tighten until it's snug.

how to use baking strips for flat cake layers
how to prevent domes and bake flat cakes using baking strips

Your cake layers will bake evenly without burnt edges and they’ll rise higher for taller cakes. Also, amazingly, they’ll be perfectly flat without needing to trim them! When you cut into the cake, the slices look beautiful with straight, even layers of cake and filling.

how to get flat cake layers

Get more tool recommendations in my tutorial on which cake decorating tools really work.

#10 Cake boxes

Instead of buying bigger cake boxes for tall cakes, tier cakes or cakes with cake toppers, use this shortcut! Cut one side of the lid with two diagonal slits. The shorter you cut the slits, the higher up you'll raise the lid. Do the same on the opposite side of the box. This will make a flap in the middle on those two sides.

cake box hack for tall cakes

Then slide the flaps into the inside of the box. Now the lid won’t touch the top of the cake and damage it. You’ll be able to safely transport your cakes without needing to buy new packaging!

how to make your own cake stencils

I hope this tutorial has been useful! Tell me in the comments: which are your favourite cake decorating shortcuts?

For more cake decorating shortcuts, tips and tricks visit my cake school, where you'll learn hundreds of techniques and designs in my online courses!

You can also watch a video of this tutorial on 10 cake decorating shortcuts:

subscribe now

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

British Girl Bakes Logo
© Copyright 2024 • British Girl Bakes - All Rights Reserved