Even the most fastidious pastry cook (I may or may not have actually two pairs of cook tweezers, X-Acto knives, and also a protractor in my kitchen drawer) can acknowledge the charm of one imperfect-looking class cake. Class cakes are the finest of house baking: nostalgic, accessible, and also made with love. If someone offered me the alternative of a perfect bakery cake or a slightly slumped homemade one, I’d select the homemade variation every time.

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That said, there is no factor not come let her layer cake look at as great as it tastes—especially due to the fact that it may be the centerpiece that the party. Now that you deserve to bake a great cake, below are six important tips because that decorating it.

1. Stack it evenly

Some cakes dome when baked. Stacking cakes with rounded tops means less stability and also an uneven-looking result. Gain down to eye level through your cake layer, then use a lengthy serrated knife to slice off the domes.


I favor not to part all the means through the cake in one cut; friend are more likely to cut crookedly that way. Instead, slice right into the cake about a third of the method toward the center, then provide the cake a quarter turn and slice towards the center again. Repeat until you job-related all the way around the cake, and, finally, cut through the center and lift turn off the dome. (It helps if you have a turntable—more on that below.)


Next, stack your top cake great upside down so the bottom of the cake deals with up. Now you have actually a perfectly flat, crumb-free cake top. Some human being discard the cake tops. I call them a perfect snack.

2. Invest in a turntable (the other kind)

I’m no talking about your vinyl. A cake turntable renders cake decorating a smooth procedure in every way. The hefty cast-iron Ateco variation is the gold standard, but less-expensive execution abound.


If you usage a turntable, you’ll additionally want to buy inexpensive cardboard rounds for under the cake. That means you deserve to support the cake and also transfer it to the offer plate (or box) without risking the cake cracking or collapsing. A smear the buttercream will “glue” the bottom cake layer come the cardboard. A folded, damp paper towel or item of tape in between the turntable and also the cardboard keeps the cake from shifting on the table as you decorate it. Cardboard rounds likewise build a little extra elevation to the cake (I frequently tape 2 together) and keep the cake knife indigenous scratching your nice platter.

3. Use an counter spatula—or a handy alt

Most bakers swear by balance out spatulas, large and small, to spread and also even buttercream top top a cake. An counter spatula—a straightedge, leveling tool, and also spreader all-in-one—is precious the investment.


But offset spatulas aren’t the just tools that have the right to pull buttercream duty top top a great cake. Bench scrapers and even family rulers are typical tools together well—especially for dispersing buttercream evenly on the political parties of the cake. Place the lengthy edge of the ruler or bench coffee flush versus the next of the cake after you’ve included buttercream, resting the bottom edge on the cake turntable or plate. Then traction the ruler approximately the cake, or turn the cake top top the turntable, if using, to produce smooth, same buttercreamed sides.


(Added bonus: A ruler allows you ensure that all sides room an even height. Rather than eyeballing the cake because that evenness, you have the right to hold the ruler parallel to the cake sides and also precisely measure the heights.)

4. Cover her cake plate

If friend don’t have actually a turntable, no problem—you can construct your cake straight on the platter. To store your serving plate crumb- and frosting-free, location strips the parchment or wax record on the cake platter, set the cake on top of the strips, and decorate. The strips need to be wide enough to prolong to the edge of the plate. After you’ve finished decorating, traction the parchment strips far to expose a pristine cake platter.


5. Include a little something on top

Sprinkles top top a cake are always the best decision. But there are a couple of other ways to decorate a cake with almost zero effort.

Fresh berries, perhaps dusted v a tiny powdered sugar, always look gorgeous and also pair well v both chocolate and also vanilla. For coco cake, buy a bar that chocolate and also run a vegetables peeler under the political parties to develop instant mini cacao curls. For carrot cake, dip lengthy carrot peels into warm an easy syrup for about 30 seconds. Drain, climate wind them into rosettes.

6. Have actually a backup plan

We’ve every been there. If, regardless of offset spatulas, turntables, and tutorials, her cake looks favor a schlumpy fail, just pile top top the buttercream and use the ago of a spoon to create pillowy swirls.


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Extremely plush, fine-crumbed, and dare-we-say moist, this is prefer the finest wedding cake—and girlfriend mix it totally by hand.
Lisa Ruland is a cooking recipes developer, pastry chef, and food writer living in Washington, D.C., and also Brooklyn.

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