Here’s a category of art you might not be familiar with: the sugar arts.

Sugar sculpture is actually a fairly old art form. During the Renaissance, these sculptures were sometimes carved/created by famous artists to grace wealthy patrons’ tables during festivals or other special occasions.

Today, sugar art competitions are held all over the world; you may have even attended the one at the Cake & Bake show in London earlier this month.

If you missed it, you could plan on catching the one in Birmingham early next month!

The timing of those shows underscores another salient point: the holiday season is just around the corner; that’s a great time to wow family and friends with your ability to create stunning, edible works of art.

Or maybe you just want to make a jolly Santa face to dress up your seasonal hobnobs!

Whatever reason calls you to decorate cakes and other baked goods, you will need far more than just sprinkles and icing. In fact, depending on how deeply you want to get into decorating, there is a whole list of equipment and supplies to investigate – from rose nails to airbrushes.

Superprof now does their best to keep the drool off the keyboard as we investigate the best cake decorations supplies and where to buy them.

Types of Cake, Types of Decoration

Cupcake decorating is perhaps easier than decorating a whole cake
With all the recent concern about obesity and portion size, frosted fairy cakes are becoming increasingly popular Source: Image by Florian Jacob from Pixabay

Just about any sweet baked goods can be decorated, from bite-sized nibbles to most ostentatious, multi-level, confection-laden cakes that require two lorries to transport them.

The main categories are:

  • Biscuits, called cookies in the US
  • Muffins: not typically decorated, they can still be adorned
  • Cake lollies, what they call cake pops across the pond
  • Petit fours: they have the same name no matter where you are!
  • Cupcakes – or fairy cakes, as we know them
  • Slab cakes – Americans call them sheet cakes
  • Layer cake: consists of two or more layers with frosting, cream or jam between the layers
  • Tiered cakes are different-sized cakes stacked on one another
    • Wedding cakes are excellent examples of a tiered cake

The best aspect about decorating any of these yummy treats is that, for the most part, you can use the same ingredients and tools; no need to buy specialised mini-decoration sets for the smaller treats you’d like to make.

Now that we know what can be decorated, let’s find the best tools to get the job done.

Were you looking for cake decorating classes so you can put all of your new tools to good use?

Necessary Cake Decorating Tools

Short of buying pre-made decorations where you normally shop – sprinkles or the kind made of candy that you simply place on the cake, you will need a set of tools to get the job done right.

First, to get the cake completely covered, you will need different types of spatulas.

A rubber spatula with a reinforced core, preferably heat-resistant, is absolutely vital: you can use it to mix your fondant as well as stir it while it heats and apply it.

You should also have a straight-edged spatula and an offset one. Cake decorators all aver that their offset spatula sees the most use because it makes frosting cakes with edges a breeze. Note: just about every cake has edges...

Another absolutely indispensable item in your cake decorating arsenal is a cake stand, preferably with a turning top. Far from being merely an elevated platter from which you might serve cake, it serves as a convenient way for you to turn your cake as you decorate, making the job less tiring on your hands.

Those are the basics of cake decorating. If you wanted to get fancy, you might throw in a decorating comb so you can groove the sides of the cake and, just with these three items, you could present a perfectly acceptable cake.

Now we get into the more craft-specific tools that no cake decorator worth their sugar would be without.

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Piping bags

These are the bags that you might have seen a television chef pack full of some substance, twist the top closed and then squeeze the bag until whatever s/he put it in came out of the other end, which most likely had some sort of tip in it to form (whatever is being squeezed out).

You may opt for a relatively sturdy, reusable piping set; hopefully, one that comes with more than one bag – it is quite common for cake decorators to use more than one colour when making a cake with piped decorations.

A more recent innovation in cake making: purchasing a set of cake decorating tips and stocking up on disposable piping bags. These bags come in small, medium and large sizes, with the professional selections affording 100 bags per roll; use them once and then toss'em!

Decorating Tips and Nails

Of course, besides the icing, these are the most critical component of cake decorating. Some shops may allow the purchase of individual tips so that you might buy just the sizes and shapes you need; others only have complete sets for sale.

Some tip sets we’ve seen come with at least one rose nail. If you can get by with using only one, then maybe this sort of decorating set would work well for you.

Many decorators prefer having several nails; one such artist has a full dozen so that he can make his roses and place them in the fridge to firm up before positioning them on the cake.

Another aspect to consider before investing in decorating tips is size.

If you anticipate decorating nothing but slab cakes, it is possible that the bigger tip sizes would work the best. However, if you plan on decorating a wide range of baked goods from layer cakes to fairy cakes, you will probably need a range of sizes.

You can make sugar flowers with a pastry bag
The piping on this wedding cake is done with a pastry bag Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

Air Brushes and Paint Brushes

You may also consider keeping a supply of small-diameter round paintbrushes on hand; they are particularly useful if you wanted to add detail with food colouring, such as clothing for the superhero or leaves and stems for flowers.

If you really want to get fancy, you could invest in an airbrush kit.

Airbrushing gives a professional look to your finished cakes; all you have to do it load its reservoir with the colour you want to spray, aim, pull the trigger and you have a lovely finish to just about any cake.

With that being said, we have to caution you: some sets are better than others. For instance, if you will routinely spray more than one colour, you will need more than one hose to run – and some airbrush kits come with only one.

Some sets come with colours included while others require you to buy them separately. Some sets have very small colour reservoirs, meaning you have to constantly stop to refill – not such a bad deal if you’re decorating biscuits or fairy cakes but fairly annoying if you’re working on a huge slab cake.

Now that you have a kitchen full of nifty decorating tools, you may want to think about becoming a professional cake decorator...

Where to Find Decorating Tools

You may find some simple tools in your local grocer’s and at shops such as Poundworld; you may even find some at craft stores. Also, if you have a bakery nearby, you might check with them to see if they sell any of the gadgets and devices mentioned above.

Of course, you could always check with Amazon; they have plenty of vendors selling decorating tools and accessories... but why not give local merchants a go, first? You may find better deals closer to home...

For the more specific items such as the airbrush kits, you will certainly have to direct yourself to a concern specialising in cake decorating supplies. If you have one in your locale, you may check with them.

For more general sellers and those who market nationwide and internationally, we’ve listed their information in the table below.

Vendors Selling Cake Decorating Tools

NameWeb AddressPhone NumberAlso sells baking and decorating ingredients?
Hobby 0330 026 1400no/no
Cake Craft 246 3573no/yes
The Great Cake 639 5380yes/yes
Cake Stuffwww.cake-stuff.com0155 589 0111no/yes
The Sugar 204 2994no/yes

Follow the origins of cake-making from its humble beginnings to the lavish creations that seem almost a shame to eat: discover for yourself the art of cake making.

You may find yourself using more than one colour on you decorated cakes
Professional cake decorators often use more than one colour of decorator icing at one time Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Tips for Buying Decorating Ingredients

With the price of food climbing ever higher, you will probably want to know where you can buy your ingredients, such as sugar and chocolate, at wholesale prices.

If your ultimate goal is establishing a cake decorating business, you will probably need to know where you can buy bulk cake ingredients, too. You may have a wholesaler in your area – if so, won’t you let us know?

This table includes wholesalers who deliver all over the country. In some cases, you can buy decorating supplies from them, too, making them a one-stop-shop for all of your cake-making and decorating needs.

Wholesale Cake Ingredient Merchants

NameWeb AddressPhone NumberAlso sells decorating tools/supplies?
The Great Cake 639 5380yes/yes
Cake Craft 246 3573yes/yes
Andrew 267 2525yes/yes
Kluman and Balterwww.klumanandbalter.com0199 270 4008no/yes
Whole Foods 318 0629no/no 924 7098no/yes

Hopefully, this information will help you get started with cake decorating; let us know how you get on in the comments, won’t you?

Where do cake decorators get their inspiration from? Discover the best Instagram and Pinterest pages, books and videos for new ideas on cake decorating...

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A vagabond traveler whose first love is the written word, I advocate for continuous learning, cycling, and the joy only a beloved pet can bring. There is plenty else I am passionate about, but those three should do it, for now.