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When it comes to decorating cakes having the right tools can make so much difference to the finished look of your cake, but when you first start out it can be hard to know what you’ll need. Below I’ve put a list of my favourite and most used tools that are always on hand when I’m decorating a cake.
My one piece of advice when starting to build up your collection of tools is start small and build them up as you need them. It’s so easy to walk into a craft store or cake decorating shop and buy everything they have, just to find out half of it you’ll never use.
If you’re new to decorating cakes you might wonder why you need a turn table. A turn tables can make it so much easier to prepare your cake, especially when adding buttercream or ganache around the side. And the better the spin the smoother your finish will be when running around with your smoothing tool. A turntable also makes it so easy when adding a drip to your cake or working on decorations that run around your cake.
When searching for a turntable, there are so many available, they come in different heights and some are made of metal, and some are plastic. For me I love this metal turntable which I got from Amazon. It wasn’t as expensive as some of the ones available, but it has such a smooth spin (you would have seen me use it in a lot in my tutorials). I honestly didn’t realise what a difference a turn table with a smooth spin would make until I got this one.
Plus it’s easy to wipe clean if I get any buttercream around the side. One thing you will want to add it a small none slip mat on the top. I usually just cut a circle from a sheet, which only costs a few pounds. This stops your cake board from slipping around on the turn table.
A good set of cake tins is a must if you’re starting to make a lot of cakes. One thing I would suggest before buying lots of tins is think about the size of cakes your thinking of making and also how high each layer of cake will be. Cake tins come in so many different sizes and depths.
Personally I use my 6 inch round tins more than any of my other tins. My tins also have a height of around 2.5 – 3 inches. This means I only need to bake 2 cakes and can cut them into 4 separate layers.
6 inch cakes are such a popular size and if you’re thinking about created tiered cakes you want tins that have 2 inches between them, so a good size would be 6 , 8 & 10 inches or 5, 7, 9 inches.
Click here to view the PME cake tins on Amazon
Steel Smoothing Tool
If you make buttercream cakes or cover your cakes in buttercream or ganache before covering them in fondant a good smoothing tool is so valuable. Personally I like to use stainless steel smoothing scrapers but they also come in plastic too. You can then smooth them against the side of your cake giving you a perfect finish.
If you’ve watched any of my cake decorating tutorials you will always see me use my offset spatula. And I actually prefer a small offset spatula. I use it for adding buttercream or ganache between my layers, use it for smoothing buttercream on the side and for perfecting the top edge of my cake. I also have a larger version which I use for moving my cakes onto my cake boards too!
By using an offset spatula rather than a straight one, the bend allows you to get it really close and at a right angle to the cake without your hand being too close.
Click here to view the small offset spatula on Amazon
Smoothers & Flexi Smoothers
If I had to choose a favourite method for covering my cakes I definitely love covering them in fondant and if you enjoy that too you will find a set of plastic smoothers and flexi smoothers great tools to use. It’s important to start with a good base of buttercream or ganache under your fondant, but once the fondant has been smoothed against the cake you can use the smoothers to get a great finish on your fondant. You can also use the smoothers together to get a perfect sharp edge on the top of your cake.
My plastic paddle smoothers were one of the first tools I actually purchased, and when Squires Kitchen released their flexi smoothers these were a real game changer in my option. You can also use them on carved cakes to smooth out buttercream if you have curves on your cake.
You can see me using the smoothers and flexi smoothers in my tutorial showing how I cover my cakes in fondant.
Having a good set of gel colours will allow you to colour your buttercream, colour your fondant and add details onto your cakes. I personally love the gel colours in tubes as I find them a lot less messy than some of the pots or the ones with flick lids, these tend to spray colour everywhere as you close them.
Think about what colours you tend to use more. I always have a lot more pink and purple gel colours, but a good set of primary colours means you can mix up any colour you need. You can also get such a variety of shades from just one tube. Add less for pastel shades and more for darker, vibrant colours.
If you’re wondering between food colours which are more liquid, gel colours and oil based colours. Gel colours are highly concentrated and don’t add liquid into your buttercream or fondant. I love oil based colours for colouring chocolate and candy melts but I find as most gel colours are water based they are a lot easier to clean off your hands or your apron. I have stains on my aprons from oil based colours that I just can’t seem to get out (if anyone knows how please let me know, lol)
Ok so this rolling pin is an investment. This is the King Pin rolling pin. Now don’t get me wrong a normal Polyethylene (plastic) rolling pin will definitely allow you to roll out your fondant. I have a variety of Polyethylene rolling pins, from really small to 50cm depending on how much fondant I’m rolling out, but if you roll out a lot of fondant or have problems with your wrists or hands the King Pin rolling pin makes it so much easier.
It’s a weighted rolling pin that weights 3kg, so it’s quite heavy, but that weight does most of the work for you. You don’t have to push down as much on the fondant. Also instead of your hands pushing the rolling pin they are fixed holding the bar that runs through the center, meaning your hands actually stay in the same position and you just use them to guide the rolling pin over the fondant. When I got this rolling pin myself I was a little dubious, but the first time I used it I was shocked at the difference it makes. The only thing you can’t do is use the rolling pin to lift the fondant onto your cakes as its spins and the fondant falls off, but if you’re rolling our large pieces of fondant, this rolling pin makes it super easy.
I have had the same set of modelling tools since I started decorating cakes around 16 years ago. I have added a few extras along the way, but you definitely can’t beat this complete set of modelling tools by PME. It includes a dresden tool which I use for most decorations or models that I make. There is a ball tool, cone tools, a roller tool and so many others. I always have these to hand when I’m making a cake and think these are probably the most used thing I have in my cake decorating tool kit. If you buy anything from my list today I would definitely say if you want to decorate cakes and make decorations you will find these really useful.
Whether you’re making cupcakes or larger cakes, having some piping nozzles will come in very handy for adding buttercream swirls to your cupcakes or buttercream borders to your larger cakes (I also use them for circle cutters too!). Now if you’re looking at piping nozzles there are literally hundreds in different shapes and styles and it can be really hard to know what effects each nozzle creates. There are sets available, but from my experience you may end up using a few and the rest stay in a box.
If I were you I would definitely start with the 1M & 2D piping nozzles. These in my opinion are the most popular and most used piping nozzles. They allow you to create the classic ice cream style buttercream swirl, rosette swirls, buttercream swirls and so many more. You can see the 2 piping nozzles and what styles they create in my tutorial here!
Once you have these 2 piping nozzles you can start to build up your collection. I have lots of piping technique tutorials on the Cakes by Lynz YouTube channel where I show you what styles different nozzles create.
Now I’m not going to tell you if you’re starting out making cakes that you need a huge super expensive mixer. For the first 5 years of making cakes I used an electric hand mixer, mine is the Kmix hand mixer, and I had absolutely no problem making smaller cakes or tiered cakes. I still use my hand mixer sometimes now.
If you are planning on making a lot of cakes you do have the option of investing in a larger stand mixer. This allows you to pop the ingredients into the bowl and let the mixer do it’s thing. It also makes making buttercream so easy as you can leave it mixing for as long as you want.
Now I have a few mixers, but the one I’ve had the longest is my Kenwood KMix and touch wood, to this day, even after 10 years it has never let me down. They also come in such fun colours. I have a red one and I can not tell you how excited I was the day I was given it as a present for my birthday. The reason I love the KMix is it feels so sturdy and well made, you also get a great lid you can add on when making buttercream to stop the icing sugar puffing out of the bowl.
One thing extra I would also possibly think about is there is a creaming beater attachment you can get with a rubber spatula around the edge. This means that as the beater goes around it gets the whole side of the bowl, which is especially useful if you’re making buttercream.
Sweet Stamp Letter Sets
I’ve been making cakes for quite a few years and when I first started, the only way to add names or personalised messages onto cakes was to use cutters or handwrite them. Now don’t get me wrong cutters are great but the variety of fonts and styles was always a little limited. When Sweet Stamp brought out there letter sets I truly believe they changed the style of cakes people made. They allow you to add names and messages onto your cakes and cupcakes or push the letters into your fondant on your cake boards so easily.
Over the past few years they have also brought out so many amazing fonts. If you’re looking for tools to use to decorate your cakes I would definitely have a look at the Sweet Stamp letter sets. Personally I love the handwritten set, the classic set, the candy set and the Sweet Sticks set. These look perfect on any theme of cake. There is also smaller sets for cupcakes too. If you are thinking of investing in a set, think about what style you could use on all of your cakes, which one matches your style.
You can also get 10% off the Sweet Stamp lettersets by using my code ‘CAKESBYLYNZ’ at the checkout on their website.
Click here to visit the Sweet Stamp website
If you are new to cake decorating and looking to purchase tools that would be really useful, I hope you’ve found my list of essential tools I couldn’t do without useful. Remember the tools that you buy don’t have to be the most expensive. Most basic cake decorating tools will do the exact same job no mater the price.
My only advice would be to build up your collection of tools as you need them, rather than investing in lots of tools just to find out over time you didn’t need them.
Let me know what are your favourite or essential tools, would you choose anything different?
Plus if you would like to see more of my favourite cake decorating tools just click here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/shop/cakesbylynz
Plus why not save this tutorial for later and pin it to Pinterest