Whether you’re trying to pamper your family with an after-dinner show stopper or impress total strangers on social media, you can hardly go wrong with a very pretty cake. The great British are baking and cake influencers have convinced everyone that a colorful buttercream stunner is the pinnacle of the art of baking. Fortunately for the aspiring cake wizard, only a few special tools stand between you and fame.

“You don’t need a lot of stuff to bake a pretty cake,” says Zoë François, pastry chef and author of Zoë bakes cakesand soon to be a TV presenter of Zoë bakes on the Magnolia Network. “I think exercise is really the thing. Just make a ton of cakes. ”

You’ll hear something similar from cook Michelle Hernandez who turns out to be dazzling cakes The seventeen patisserie in the Mission District of San Francisco. „I don’t think you should start buying fondant or gum paste or too many things that you might never use again,” says Hernandez. “You have to find out what works for you. Just start with the basics and then build from there. „

You may already need to bake a cake like a stand mixer, heavy round pans, and possibly a bundt pan. Some cooking utensils can also serve dual purposes: tweezers for priming, a mandolin for cutting decorative fruits, a Silpat An infrared thermometer for baking side dishes, with which buttercream can be measured for the perfect consistency during processing. However, there are still a few specialized tools that will take you from the Sldash mug cake to multilayered beauty.

As you enter the world of special baking tools, stick to the brush and sculpting tools. You can always build up your collection later. Instead, here are the items François and Hernandez suggest to help you get your cakes from the bottom to the gram.

Pallet knife

There is no shortage of love on the internet for the offset spatula, also known as the spatula. It’s the perfect tool to apply a base layer of buttercream, and it can be used Carving designs or paint on colored frosting. The standard rounded tip version works for most tasks, although Hernandez suggests that too Blades in different shes for carving and painting designs.

Hernandez recommends starting with a small 6-inch blade as opposed to the 8-10-inch spatulas you might see on TV. “For someone new to smoothing out icing, it’s easier to start with a smaller spatula,” she says. „You’re going to want to learn the movement of your hand, how to make swirls and everything.” Matfer Bourgeat Offset Spataula, $ 14 on Amazon

Piping bag

Buttercream is the most glamorous part of the cake decoration. It is therefore important to arm yourself with a functional piping bag and suitable piping tips.

Piping bags come in a variety of sizes and materials, including single-use plastic and reusable options like nylon and canvas. François suggests opting for a reusable bag (“We don’t need more plastic in the world”). A 16-inch bag is the goldilocks size for beginners. It’s not so small that it has to be constantly refilled, but not so big that it feels unwieldy. Look for a feather-light material that is easy to respond to pressure. Hernandez also recommends a 16-inch bag to start with, but notes that larger cakes will require one bigger bag. Wilton 16-inch featherweight piping bag, $ 5 on Amazon

Piping bag

Don’t be tempted by top sentences, which often include options that will collect dust in a drawer. Instead, buy round, star-shaped, and pink tips in a few sizes. With these „you can really do anything I’ve ever done on Instagram,” says François. The round tip ensures a smooth finish. You can use the star tip to create shell edges, stars, and rosettes. A rose top can be used on many flowers, not just their namesake. If you want to make roses specifically, you also need a flower nail, according to François, which makes it easy to make individual flowers by whistling petals on the nail as it rotates between your fingers so you don’t risk the look of your whole cake through direct decoration. Ateco round tip, $ 1 in the Webstaurant Store | Ateco star tip, $ 1 in the Webstaurant Store | Wilton Petal Tip, $ 5 on Amazon

Cake turner

It can be annoying trying to flatten buttercream when your cake is on a regular plate. No matter how fine you twist, the frosting shows the tell-tale seizures and starts of amateur surgery. What you need is a cake turner.

“Even if you’re starting out and on a budget, this is a place I would indulge myself. Every cake turner is better than none, ”says François. While a lazy Susan will do in a pinch, professional cake breakers are weighted in the base so they can spin smoothly forever without throwing your cake away like a jerky bronco. Ateco rotating cake stand, $ 57 on Amazon

Nylon dough scraper

Bakers often use a Metal bench screr Hold the screr in conjunction with a cake turner to the side of the cake as you turn it for a perfectly clean edge in the buttercream. Hernandez recommends a flexible nylon version from France, sometimes referred to as a „racle toout”. The flat edge can be used like a bank clerk, while the rounded edge is ideal for digging out bowls. „It’s not very common here, but I haven’t found anything like it in the US,” says Hernandez. „This is the number one tool people should have in their kitchen to decorate cakes or not.” Matfer Bourgeat Nylon Batter Screr, $ 12 at Amazon

Gel-based food coloring

Just like with cookie decorating, you need gel-based food coloring to create vibrant cakes. Avoid the water-based dyes found in small tubes in the grocery store that are so faint that they produce pastel colors instead of bold, saturated tones. Natural dye is great too, but don’t expect exact results. For her recently published cookbook, François played around with red beet-based dye that is acid-reactive for a red velvet cake. It came out purple. Liqua-Gel Food Coloring Kit, $ 22 Chefmaster

A couple of extras

You can go pretty far in outfitting your kitchen with all of this, but a few extra purchases can improve the structural integrity of your cakes and add instant flair without a lot of extra work.

Cake comb

When you got to this list looking for cake hacks, hit the decorating comb. A comb scraped across the sides of a cake like a bank clerk creates even, raised textures in buttercream. Each edge of the three-sided ridge forms a different pattern. This is the quickest way to go from simple to chic in your frosting job. Ateco Aluminum Decoration and Frosting Comb, $ 1 in the Webstaurant Store

Ruler and level

Hernandez builds cakes like an architect. A ruler helps you not to see how tall a cake is, while a level ensures that each layer is on top of the next before it is stacked. However, don’t bother to overpay for these mundane things at Sur la Table. The options from hardware stores like Home Depot or art stores like Blick will do just fine.

„Most of the time it will be happy,” says Hernandez, „but it won’t say that this is good for cake too, because it is good for building a house.” Look for food grade materials like stainless steel and avoid wood. Blick aluminum triangles, starting at $ 6 at Blick | Empire Polycast Torpedo Level, $ 3 at Home Depot

Cake stand

After all this work, don’t ruin the look of your cake with a sub-par serving plate. You can always grab a pack of decorative cake boards, but François prefers a simple cake stand, something understated that will make the cake – and all of your hard work – shine. BIA Cordon Bleu porcelain cake stand, $ 36 at Amazon

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