Cake Decorating Basic

Even before you’ve baked a cake, you need to decide what type of icing you’d like to put on it. Only some types of icing will work with certain cake designs. Flavor is also a consideration and the type of icing flavor should complement the type of cake you’ve baked. Keep in mind that not all types of icing are compatible with all colors so be sure to carefully select the icing if you’d like a specific color on your cake.

Stabilized Whipped Cream

This type of icing is known for its delicate sweet taste. It has a thin to medium consistency that keeps its soft texture on a decorated cake. Stabilized whipped cream holds pastel colors better and works well on any type of cake. Once iced, the cake must be refrigerated. Stabilized whipped cream icing does not sit well and needs to be used immediately. It’s good for writing, creating borders and large tip work.


Whipped Icing Mix

Whipped icing mix has a delicate vanilla flavor that can be changed to chocolate by adding sifted cocoa flower. It holds its shape well and can be used to create flowers, borders and writing on cakes and other types of bakery.


Rolled Fondant

Rolled fondant cake icing has a dough-like consistency that allows you to knead in whatever flavor you choose. It creates a smooth, satiny surface on the cake and remains semi-soft. It holds a variety of colors from light pastels to deeper hues. It works well on pound cake, fruit cake and any other firm textured cake. Rolled fondant is typically used for modeling, cutting or molding decorations. Extra icing can be stored at room temperature for up to two months in an airtight container. It should not be frozen or refrigerated. Iced cakes stay fresh for up to four days at room temperature. Seal cake freshness and moisture with glaze or buttercream icing before applying the fondant.


Quick Pour Fondant

This type of icing holds light colors better, must be used immediately and coats bakery with a satiny iced surface that seals freshness and dries to a smooth, semi-hard surface.



Buttercream has a thin to stiff consistency that works well for creating borders and writing. It’s often used for floral cake decorations and figure piping which remain soft enough to cut with a knife even if the cake has been sitting a full day or two. It has a sweet, buttery taste and holds all colors well. Colors darken after mixing so it’s a good idea to allow the icing to set for three hours before applying. Buttercream can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks as long as the container is airtight.


Snow-White Buttercream

This type of icing has a pure white base color that creates truer colors and a sweet almond taste that makes it popular on wedding cakes. Flowers created with snow-white buttercream icing have a translucent look if air dried and remain soft enough to cut with a knife even after a day of sitting. Icing remains fresh for up to two weeks if refrigerated in an airtight container.


Royal Icing

Royal icing is typically made with a meringue powder and creates candy hard decorations that last for months. It holds the hues of the deepest colors but needs more pigment than other types of icing to hold its color. It’s important to cover icing with a damp cloth when working with it so it doesn’t crust over. All bowls and utensils used to mix it must be grease free since grease ruins its consistency. Royal icing is good for creating flowers and figure piping and is commonly used to decorate gingerbread houses and cookies.


Fluffy Boiled Icing

Entirely fat-free with a marshmallow-like taste that makes it popular for stringwork, figure piping, borders and writing and a fluffy consistency that sets fast. Yields deep hues and pastels. Any bakery decorated with fluffy boiled icing needs to be served within 24 hours.