Here are a few tips for writing on cakes.
At some point in your cake decorating hobby (or business, if you should decide to start a cake decorating business, that is), you’re going to be asked to put a name or message on a cake.
I addressed this briefly in the post “Piping a Message Onto a Cake” which you can read here, but it looks like a few more hints are in order!
In that post I just mentioned, I had explained that you DO NOT have to have the handwriting of an expert calligrapher. BUT, you do need to practice.
But for starters…
Here is a common question about writing on cakes: “How do I know how much room I need to write and/or center the name/message?”
The simplest way to determine this is to choose your CENTER point of the SPACE you have in which to write. THEN count the number of letters in the name or message – and divide by 2 (kind of like backspacing 1 time for every 2 letters). You now know how many letter spaces you need on either side of your center point.
For example, the word “decorate” has 8 letters. Divide 8 by 2, and your answer is 4.
You should give enough room for 4 letters to the LEFT of the center point, and 4 letters to the RIGHT of the center point. <b><i>Click on the picture above to get a larger illustration of this. </b></i>
Here’s another GREAT tip to make it easier for you to get started writing on cakes…
Lightly “write” your word or message into the frosting with a toothpick. This will create a type of “tracing paper” effect to help guide you! Also, if you get it wrong the first time, you can gently smooth out your “tracing” and try again. THEN, you can write your word or message ON TOP OF the lightly etched words you just applied with the toothpick! 🙂 Clever!
Here are a few more tips to make the process easier:
1) Use a FINE tip (i.e. small opening) so that you can keep a little more control over how much icing comes out while your’re writing. A good example is a Wilton Decorating Tip-#1 Round tip as seen here.
2) A SMALLER bag is a little easier to handle than a larger bag – so start small, so that you can keep your hands close to your work. Don’t forget to review how to fill a piping bag/pastry bag here before you begin if this is the first time you’re trying this.
3) To keep your hands from shaking, tuck the elbow of your writing hand close to your body, and steady the bag with your “guiding” (i.e. non-writing) hand.
4) Writing on Buttercream? If you are writing on Buttercream (versus fondant, which is a little stiffer), it helps to chill the cake a bit to let the frosting set up a little more.
5) Practice on Your Homemade Practice Board! What does it take to make a practice board? Just a cardboard cake board or pan covered w/ plastic wrap so you can reuse it! (See the Crumb Boss video below!)
6) Use a Fondant “Banner!” Cut a piece of rolled fondant into a shape (such as a heart, or other shape), pipe your message on the fondant, let it set overnight in the refrigerator, and then apply the cutout to the top of the Buttercream.
7) Still Nervous? If you are still not quite ready to pipe your message on your own, you can always purchase some candy alphabet letters and spell out your message with those until you gain more confidence. You could try the Icing Decorations such as the 71/Pkg-Alpha Numeral seen here (But please do practice writing… You will be surprised at how lovely your results can be with just a little practice!)
As with all cake decorating techniques, the key is practice, practice, practice! 🙂 Here is a GREAT video by Crumb Boss to help you along the way…
This is a demonstration of Chef Asbury using a VERY small bag – so much more control! The primary reason I’m showing THIS video is to illustrate the use of this very small bag with the fine tip. Notice he is also using a turntable. This is an absolute must-have tool for any cake decorator. It is not expensive, and will be one of your favorite tools! Have a look… (and enjoy the music)! The editing is a “bit much” toward the end of the video, but you’ll get the point! 🙂 (Once you’re done with the videos, CLICK HERE to go to my Discount & Cheap Cake Decorating Supplies Page to stock up!)