Frequent Cake Decorating Terms

Frequent Cake Decorating Terms

If you are new to cake decorating, then you can be confused by the many phrases for cake decorating. While these phrases may be intimidating at first, if you take the time to get familiar with them, then you will approach them with sureness. Presented below are many of the most common cake decorating terms, and their meanings. After you master these terms you will likely be inspired with your own cake decorating ideas.


Airbrushing a cake is a rapid method to add a picture or setting onto a cake’s surface with food coloring. Airbrushing is accomplished with an artist’s paint gun that uses an compression air pump.


The border of a cake is a constant thread of icing that ornaments the top, sides, and/or bottom edges of a cake.


Buttercream is a rich icing created by mixing either butter or shortening (or both) with icing sugar, and beaten until smooth. Buttercream is an all-purpose icing, easily made, that can be used to both decorate and cover a cake

Decorating Bags

Decorating bags are also known as icing bags, frosting bags, or pastry bags. Decorating bags are small, triangular shaped bags that are made of parchment paper, cloth, or plastic. The bags are equipped with embellishing tips and filled with frosting and used to pipe decorative items such as icing flowers, edges, scroll work, and lacework patterns.

Decorating Tips

Decorating tips are sometimes called decorating nozzles. Decorating tips are used to produce decorative items such as basket weave patterns, icing roses, and shell borders. Tips come in varying shapes, and are used with an icing or pastry bag full of icing. When the bag is squeezed, the frosting or cream is piped out in the shape of the tip. Drop flowers are created with a single squeeze of the icing bag, while rose petals are made with masterful maneuvering of the tip and icing.

Flower Nail

A flower nail is shaped like a nail with an large, oversized head. A flower head is used for piping royal icing and buttercream flowers that are transferred to a cake after drying.


Frosting and icing are often substituted for each other. Americans tend to use the phrase “frosting” for the creamy, sugary substance that covers a cake, while those in other English speaking countries tend to use the term “icing”. In the U.S.A., “frosting” typically refers to the icing that is spread over the cake, while “icing” normally refers to decorative icing, such as piped borders and icing roses.


Fondant is also called sugar paste. Fondant is an frosting sugar dough that can be manipulated in much the same way as pie dough. Fondant can be rolled into smooth sheets, then draped over cakes, producing a smooth, perfect finish.


Ganache is a velvety smooth icing. It is prepared by melting either dark or white chocolate, then mixing it with heavy cream.


Gumpaste is an eatable, clay-like dough. It is prepared by blending glycerin, gum Arabic, and icing sugar. Gumpaste is used to mold edible flowers and designs. Gum paste can also be rolled exceedingly thin and used to make intricate ribbons and lacework, as well as delicate flower petals.


Marzipan is a doughy almond substance. It is made from the identical ingredients as almond paste, though marzipan has more sugar, less almonds, and has a smoother consistency. Marzipan is frequently used for modeling cake decorations, and as a base covering underneath fondant.


Piping is a embellishing technique where a decorating bag or tube is filled with icing and outfitted with a decorating tip. Piping takes place when the bag is lightly squeezed to produce shaped dots and ribbons of icing to adorn cakes and other baked goods.

Royal Icing

Royal icing is a sweet white icing that is created by whipping icing sugar with either fresh egg whites or dried egg whites and meringue powder. Royal icing makes distinct icing borders. It is ideal for piping complex writing, edges, scroll work, and lacework on cakes. Royal icing dries very hard and preserves indefinitely if stored in a cool, dry place, but is susceptible to softening and drooping in high humidity.

The Author:

Cake decorating fanatic Julia Johnson

Photo. Jill Wellington

Source: Ab


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