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Feb 26, 2009 11:38 AM

Cake decorating book?

Is there a book that can help turn me into a somewhat proficient cake decorator? My daughter has food allergies so I can't get her birthday cake from a bakery. I still want it to be beautiful and festive though. Thanks so much for any suggestions!

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  1. There are tons of gorgeous inspirational books out there, but there's no substitute for hands-on experience. I'd sign up for a basic course at a local cake decorating store (or the Wilton classes at Michaels if you can't find a better resource). That will give you good basic and non-obvious instruction for cake decorating.

    Head over to for thousands of inspirational photos, and a wealth of information on the forums on every conceivable cake decorating topic, from the very basic to the incredibly elaborate.

    3 Replies
    1. re: modthyrth

      I have a friend who took course from a top cake decoratoring instructor, and the Wilton class at Michaels and she said the Wilton class was actually better and she learned more.

      I also think that less is sometimes more with cakes and have made great looking cakes with just a preprinted (edible) cartoon for a child, or polka dots made with candies or chocolate callets (space them around the cake flat side out).

      1. re: Stuffed Monkey

        I've taken cake decorating classes at a community college (semester long), at a cake supply store, at a rec center and learned more from the 4 week Wilton class than I did at the othe places. And, once you learn the basic techniques, how to level a cake, and cut, you can be creative with the rest.

        1. re: chowser

          It all depends on the instructor, of course. My local cake decorating store's classes blow Wilton's out of the water, and I don't get a heavy-handed sales pitch at every turn.

    2. If you can't take the WIlton class, I'd get the materials from it and practice on your own. It's not that hard but learning to make the right consistency frosting for what you're doing is important and learning to squeeze with the right pressure and drawing away is something where you need hands on experience. What I like is it comes with a plastic practice sheet where you put their template below and just trace/copy. I wouldn't get a Wilton book, though. Also, as bad as it tastes, crisco buttercream is great to work with, much easier than butter, so if you're just practicing and it's going in the trash, save yourself money and make it easier. And, once you get the techniques, you can play around w/ cake design which I do so much more than a traditional cake w/ roses and scrolls.

      1. I like the Whimsical Bakehouse by Liv Hansen. Some of the designs are absolutely at the expert level but many in the beginning of the book can be adapted for a beginner with a small amount of experience. The cake recipes are well suited for decorating (not all are) and they taste good. You will need to acquire some specialty supplies such as gel paste colors and possible candy colors but these are easily available on line if you don't live near a well stocked cake supply store.

        1. I have one called "Birthday cakes." It has a few recipes, but mostly decorating ideas - so instead of just teaching you how to make a flower, it presents a cake for different themes.

          1. Not having the luxury of a class here, I taught myself using the wilton books and materials - you can get them at most crafts stores, party stores, etc. The book will show you how to make the most common decorations with the common tips. Start with the easy stuff - writing words, star to fill in spaces, shell borders and the like and then pactice, practice, practice.