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 Ways to Make your Cakes Look Professional

A delicious cake with pretty frosting will make people happy but with these 10 techniques I’ll show you how to impress EVERYONE with your cakes, from piping details to transferring a cake onto a cake stand, using simple tricks, basic tools, and quick techniques! 

If you prefer to watch a video of this tutorial, scroll to the bottom of the page.

#1 Swirls
For this first technique all you need is a piping bag and a star shaped piping tip like a 1M or a 2D. Fill your piping bag about half full with whatever frosting you’re using. I like to do this within a glass to make it neater, so you don’t get frosting all over the top of the piping bag.

how to fill a piping bag with frosting 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

Twist the end of the bag to make it easier to pipe because you won’t need as much pressure to squeeze the frosting out. I like to chill my cakes before piping onto them, and I’ll show you why in a second.

piping frosting swirls with a 2D piping tip 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

Hold the piping bag above the cake, starting about an inch in from the edge, and pipe a circle, spiralling upwards to pipe a swirl. If you count the number of circles you make for the swirl, you can replicate that around the cake and every swirl will be the same height. At the top of each swirl I like to push down slightly, then stop squeezing the bag and swipe the piping tip up and away, and that leaves a nice neat peak on each swirl. 

The reason for chilling the cake before you do this is that these frosting swirls are quite heavy and if you pipe onto a cake just after frosting it, the weight of the swirls can make the top edge of the frosting on the cake droop. If you chill the cake the frosting will set and you’ll keep those nice sharp edges around the top of the cake even after piping all of the swirls. These swirls are SO easy to pipe and they make the cake much taller, more elegant, and more festive!

frosting swirls with a star piping tip like a 1M or 2D 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

#2 Rope border
For a more unique way to add some detail to the top of your cake, use the same star tip and hold the piping bag at a diagonal and pipe a circle. Just before the end of the circle, loop back around to make another circle that overlaps the first one.

how to pipe a rope border onto a cake 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

Continue like this to make a border that looks like the links of a rope. Using a 2D tip makes the piped ruffles much softer than using a 1M tip, which will make the texture sharper.

piping a buttercream rope border 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

A rope border isn’t as tall as frosting swirls, which makes it perfect to use with a cake topper because it won’t block or hide the cake topper.

1M or 2D rop border 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

#3 Stencil
Next up, stencils! These are much easier to use than you might think. Tint another colour of frosting and spoiler alert: buttercream works best for this and you’ll see why in a second. Choose a stencil – plastic, acrylic, any material is fine. What’s essential for successful stenciling is that the cake has been chilled so the frosting is really firm, and that way you can press the stencil against the cake without damaging the frosting.

how to use a stencil on a cake 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

Spread buttercream to cover the whole stencil design and then scrape off the excess to leave a thin, smooth layer over the stencil. Peel the stencil off and voila!

scrape excess frosting off stencil with offset spatula 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

If the warmth of your fingers leaves indents in the frosting you can smooth those with your offset spatula now, and after chilling the cake again you can smooth them even more.

smooth fingerprints from applying stencil 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

Stencils are even easier on the top of  cakes because they lie flat – you don’t have to curve them around the cake. Follow the same process of spreading buttercream and then scraping it off and smoothing it, and then peel the stencil off.

how to use a stencil on a cake on the side and on the top 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

You can tidy up any excess bits of frosting with a toothpick to make the design neater. Stencilled cakes are quick and easy but SO beautiful!

tidy up a stencil design with a toothpick 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

#4 Beaded border
Borders around the bottom of the cake are a nice way to soften the base of the cake, and also to disguise any imperfections around the bottom of the cake! Choose a medium sized round tip, like this #12, for the neatest beads.

how to pipe a beaded border 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

Hold it up against the side of the cake and squeeze the bag to push the frosting out, letting it bulge out slightly before pulling away. This leaves a tail on each bead, which you’ll cover up with the next bead.

how to pipe a beaded border around a cake 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

This finishing touch makes a pretty cake look professional instantly!

beaded buttercream border on stencil cake 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

#5 Pointillism
For a step up from a flat stenciled design on a cake, use a small round piping tip like a #2 or a #3 to pipe tiny dots to cover the design, giving it texture and much more detail.

how to create a pointillist design on a cake 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

To reduce the strain on your wrist as you’re piping hundreds or dots, make sure the consistency of your buttercream isn’t too thick, otherwise you’ll need to squeeze the bag much harder than if the buttercream has a bit more milk in it to thin it out.

create a pointillist design on a cake with a small round piping tip 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

You can use whipped cream or meringue buttercream for this technique as well. It’s time consuming so take breaks but the result is definitely worth it!

pointillism pointillist cake 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

#6 Artificial flowers
Artificial flowers make gorgeous cake toppers in just a few seconds. Trim the stalks so they’re a few inches long and cut off any leaves along the stem.

how to prepare artificial flowers to use on a cake 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

Wash the stem and the bottom petals of the flower with hot soapy water so they’re nice and clean and then poke the flower into the cake!

how to use artificial flowers as cake toppers 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

These won’t wilt like natural flowers will, and the stems won’t leak floral liquids into your cake. If you’re enjoying these techniques, check out my online cake school for hundreds of cake designs and decorating techniques!

artificial flower cake topper on cake 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

#7 Piped flowers
Add edible flowers by piping them with frosting! You’ll need a flower nail and some parchment paper cut into little squares and a few colours of frosting in piping bags.

how to pipe flowers with buttercream 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

Pipe a dot of buttercream onto the middle of the flower nail. This dot will act as glue to attach a square of parchment paper onto the flower nail.

attach parchment paper to flower nail with a dot of buttercream 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

Hold a petal tip with the narrow end of the tip facing outwards. This is important because by holding it this way, the edges of your petals will have some movement and look more natural.

pipe petals with the narrow end of a petal piping tip facing outwards 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

To pipe petals, spin the flower nail between your finger and thumb as you work your way around the flower.

how to pipe a flower petal with buttercream frosting 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

Pipe a dot in the middle or a little star – this is a #18 by Wilton.

pipe a dot or star into the middle of the flower 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

Carefully slide the parchment off the nail and place it on a tray or plate. Pipe as many flowers as you want for your cake.

slide flowers on parchment paper onto a tray or plate 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

Try piping two layers of petals and use different colours to make the design more interesting. This is a #104 petal tip but for bigger flowers you could use a #125.

pipe two rings of petals 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

Put the tray into the freezer for 5 minutes to set the flowers. If the frosting on your cake is still soft and sticky, you can press the flowers straight into the cake but if the frosting on the cake has set, you’ll need to use buttercream as glue. Either pipe little dots or pipe leaves with a leaf tip like a #352.

pipe leaves with a leaf tip #352 to attach flowers to the cake 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

To attach the flowers, take them out of the freezer and lift a square of parchment up. Peel the flower off the parchment and it will be cold and firm for a few seconds so move quickly!

peel frozen buttercream flowers off parchment paper 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

Press the flower onto your cake and it will attach to the dot or the leaves you’ve just piped.

press frozen flowers into the frosting on the cake 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

Pipe swirls and rosettes with any star shaped tip, like the #32 tip I used for the orange details on this cake. Arrange a few flowers or make them cascade down the side of the cake, making a plain cake colourful and detailed in just a few minutes!

piped flowers on cake 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

#8 Add gold
Adding gold to a cake makes it instantly glamorous and attention-grabbing because most people don’t realize gold can be edible! Buy gold luster dust and add a drop of clear alcohol like vodka or a clear flavour extract like lemon, mixing it to make a thick liquid.

how to make edible gold paint to use on cakes 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

You can brush the gold “paint” over buttercream after the buttercream sets. The easiest way to make buttercream set is to put the cake int he fridge for about an hour, until the buttercream is firm enough that you can touch it without leaving an indent in the frosting.

brush edible gold paint onto a cake after the frosting has set 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

The gold accents make this design even more elegant!

stencil pointillist design with gold on cake 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

Gold paint works well for flowers too – after chilling the cake you can brush this along the edges of petals or onto the dots or stars in the middle of flowers, taking this piped design to the next level.

brush edible gold paint onto piped flowers on cake 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

#9 Wrapped ribbon
A beautiful cake needs beautiful presentation, not a visible corrugated cake board. There’s an easy solution for this – wrap a fabric ribbon around the cake board and secure it with glue. Choose a colour that matches the colours of the cake, like this turquoise, to complete the presentation.

wrap a fabric ribbon around the ugly cardboard edge of a cake board 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

#10 Cake stand
Alternatively, transfer you cake to a cake stand, but without the cake board you frosted it on. The trick for this is to chill the cake for at least an hour so it sets, and then slide an offset spatula or a cake lifter underneath to separate it from the cake board.

use a cake lifter to transfer a cake from a cake board to a cake stand 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

Lift the cake up and place it on a cake stand, sliding the cake lifter out from underneath the cake. You might need to use an offset spatula to lift the cake slightly while you pull the cake lifter out. If you need to center the cake not he cake stand, so it now while the frosting is still cold so you can press it without damaging it.

pull the cake lifter out from underneath the cake to leave the cake on the cake stand 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

I’m excited for you to make your cakes look more professional! Tell me in the comments which is your favourite technique, or tell me one you’d like to learn!

how to transfer a cake to a cake stand 10 ways to make your cakes look professional

Here’s the video version of this tutorial:

subscribe now

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

2 comments on “10 Ways to Make your Cakes Look Professional”

  1. Thanks Emily, I love how you explain things and don't make it all about expensive equipment. I bake lovely cakes but often am daunted when it comes to the decoration; your tutorials encourage me to have a go!

British Girl Bakes Logo
© Copyright 2022 • British Girl Bakes - All Rights Reserved
searchclosetimes-circlefacebookbarschevron-circle-downellipsis-hyoutubeyoutube-playinstagrampinterest-p