Words by Marléna Ahearn
Photos by Julia Merrell
Cake is always a good idea, but it can be hard knowing where to start. When the occasion calls for cake, decorating your own can be a unique gift—and it can even turn into a creative outlet.
Rebecca Kester, owner of Daydream Cakes, found her career by leaning into her creative side. “I have always been interested in drawing, painting, and sculpting and I was struggling to think of a career that I could use my art background with. Eventually I went to the French Culinary Institute (now the International Culinary Center) in NYC to earn a pastry degree and worked at a few bakeries for 2 years, learning as much as I could,” says Kester.
Molly Hartley and Kate Cassels, owners of Scratch Bakeshop, took a similar path in opening their business. Molly attended culinary school, while Kate attended art school. Together they created Scratch Bakeshop and their own unique “Scratch style”: lovely, unique cakes, custom made for any occasion.
After years of training and decorating countless cakes, these business owners have perfected the art beautiful confections. Lucky for us, they're sharing six of those tips to help turn our next homemade cake into a masterpiece.
1. Use The Tools For The Job
Use a turntable and an offset spatula to create a seamlessly striking finish on a chilled, crumb coated cake! Use a bench scraper to give your cake a smooth finish, or a cake comb for extra texture. When using a bench scraper or a cake comb make sure to hold it at the right angle: straight up and down. — Elizabeth Rodriguez, Tu Amor Cakery
2. Go Easy On The Frosting
When filling a pastry bag, make sure to fold the sides down before filling it for less mess. Also, to avoid messiness, never fill your pasty bag more than 3/4 of the way full otherwise it will squeeze out the top. — Rebecca Kester, Daydream Cakes
3. Watch Your Temps
Make sure your buttercream frosting is room temperature, but your cake is cold. Whip your frosting with room temp butter and leave it out until you’re ready to frost. To prevent your cake from cracking, make sure it’s completely cool before storing it in the fridge. — Molly Hartley and Kate Cassels, Scratch Bakeshop
4. Plan Ahead
Give yourself plenty of time to design and practice decorations for your cake, especially if it's elaborate. Practice your flowers or piping before you put pastry bag to cake. — Molly Hartley and Kate Cassels, Scratch Bakeshop
5. Crumb Coat Is A Must
When covering a cake with fondant, make sure you have a smooth crumbing coat of frosting before hand. A crumb coat is a thin amount of buttercream to seal all the crumbs in on a cake. I like to leave all my crumb coated cakes in the fridge overnight so that the next morning they are nice and solid so that you can get sharper cleaner looking edges with your fondant covering. — Rebecca Kester, Daydream Cakes
6. Don't Stress About It
Have fun! Cake decorating should be fun and result in a delicious cake first and foremost. — Molly Hartley and Kate Cassels, Scratch Bakeshop
Don’t forget: regardless of the end result, your cake doesn’t need to be perfect to make a perfect moment. The effort you put in won’t go unnoticed. Enjoy the process and look forward to the moment you can dig in!