Whether you're a complete novice or you just want to increase your decorating repertoire, this guide aims to take you through everything you need to know so that you can truly personalise your cakes like a professional baker. We'll cover the tools you'll need for each stage of decoration, how to prepare your cake for icing, go into detail about the different types of icing and fondant, look at the many ways in which you can decorate your cake, and finally touch upon how to create your own cake toppers. Cake decorating is a rewarding craft, but you should remember that takes a huge amount of patience and persistence to produce stunning results.
Before you begin decorating your cake, you must ensure it's baked to perfection. After all, the recipient will ultimately be eating your masterpiece! You need to begin with the right bakeware to ensure an even bake – view our Bakeware Guide for more guidance on this. Once you've baked your cake and you're happy with its taste and texture, make sure it has completely cooled down before you even consider icing it. This is a very important thing to remember, and often a rookie mistake. Take your cake out of the oven and leave it sitting in its tin for around 20 minutes before moving it to a cooling rack. You should then leave it for a few hours.
In the meantime, really contemplate what you want the finished piece to look like – who are you baking it for? Think about their age, their gender and their interests or hobbies. What's the occasion? Will it have a theme, or a specific colour scheme? There are many routes you can take, so it's recommended you draw out your vision before beginning to decorate so that you're completely clear about the cake you want to create.