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Kitchen Smarts: 5 Simple Cake Decorating Ideas That You Don't Have To Be A Pro To Pull Off

Take your cake to the next level.
By Published Apr. 18, 2019

Cakes are the centerpiece of any major occasion. Whether you prefer chocolate, vanilla,  or red velvet, you want to make sure the exterior looks as good as it tastes. For a cake that looks like it came from a bakery, you don’t have to be a pastry chef. You just need these decorating tips.

In this video, part of the “Kitchen Smarts” series on America’s Test Kitchen’s YouTube channel, Cook’s Illustrated test cook Lan Lam demonstrates five simple, creative ideas to make your next cake stand out. (And no, it doesn’t take any fancy tools to accomplish these beautiful cake decorations.) Here are some of our findings:

Softened apple slices make the best roses: You can make beautiful roses to sit atop your cake by rolling up thinly sliced apples. Before rolling them up, make sure you let them sit for about five minutes in a mixture of sugar and lemon juice. This prevents browning and makes them flexible enough to work with.

Create an abstract look: Dipping a paint brush in gel food coloring and then dragging it across the top of the cake adds a whimsical pop of color to your cake.

Two steps to the perfect drizzle: You can easily create that classic chocolate drizzle look that is irresistible. Take the chocolate mixture and pour some of it on top of the cake and spread. Then take a ¼-cup of the remaining chocolate and drizzle it along the top edge to create the desired effect.

The key to easy chocolate curls: You can easily make multi-colored chocolate curls to put on top of your cake. All you need is a vegetable peeler.

Tint your way to an awesome ombré: You can achieve a beautiful ombré look by tinting your frosting with increasing amounts of coloring. Spread the frosting on the cake in thirds, starting with the darkest frosting on the bottom. Running a spatula along the sides with a rotating cake stand allows you to blend the frostings together.

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What do you do to make your cake stand out? Let us know in the comments!