When you start out on your cake decorating journey and you begin to look at equipment, the choice of products on the market can be very overwhelming. If you are anything like me, you will buy everything (even if you're not entirely sure what it's for...........ooooh, but it's shiny!)! But what would you actually find most useful?
I've complied a list of my 10 tools that I think are worth their weight in gold. So if you want to buy a few things to start your journey into cake making, start here and I don't think you can go wrong.
1: A Decent Rolling Pin
This is an absolute essential! You can't roll out fondant for your cakes without a rolling pin. But which one should you buy?
If money is no object then my absolute favourite rolling pin is my King Pin. Now it isn't cheap, at almost £70.00 but I just wouldn't be without mine. It is a weighed pin so it does the hard work for you. You hold the handles and push the rolling pin, rather than roll with your hands and arms (you have bruises, right?). It recommends it works best with another tool called 'The Mat' but I have never used this and have read mixed reviews. If you suffer with weak arms or wrists then the King Pin would be very helpful for that too.
I appreciate not everyone has £70 to spend on a rolling pin, so obviously there are other options. For around £20 you can get a good non stick acrylic pin. I would suggest getting at least a 19" long pin and make sure it has some weight to it. There are lots on Ebay for under £10 but you may find they are very lightweight and not as good for the job. It is probably best to go to a cake shop so you can actually handle the pin. Hobbycraft sell cake decorating equipment too so they would have them. Reputable brands are PME or Wilton.
2: PME Baking Belts
These are quite a new discovery for me. I had had something similar for years but they needed replacing and just weren't quite doing the job properly. The PME baking belts are used by soaking them in water and then wrapping them tightly around your cake tin before it goes in the oven.
They help to ensure a level, even bake and even give your cake mix extra height, which if you are a fan of tall cakes like me, you need. You can buy them in different lengths and widths to match your cake tins. I have the 3" wide ones.
3: Acrylic Ganaching Plates
I could not live without my acrylic ganaching plates. I use them for every single cake. It's a personal preference, but I like to use one top and bottom on my cake and I ganache using the upside down method. They give me a lovely smooth and straight ganached cake which is the key to having a smooth finish on your fondant.
If you would like to learn how to perfectly ganache and ice your cakes then I do offer 1:1 classes so please get in touch if that interests you.
4: Acrylic Smoothers
Acrylic smoothers are an absolute must if you want to achieve a smooth finish on your fondant and those lusted after 'sharp edges'.
Shereen's Cakes & Bakes sells a brilliant set of all different shapes and sizes for £10.00. Get yours here.
5: A Surgical Scalpel
This is one of my most used tools for cutting out small details neatly. The blades are super sharp and mean you don't get any scruffy edges on your work. Use with a cutting mat (see below). I have the handle, the 10A blades and I also bought a blade remover that safely takes the used blades off and stores them inside. You need some pliers to hold the blade and get it onto the handle. You can purchase them all on Amazon.
6: A Cutting Mat
I have only had this SweetCut mat for a few months, but I love it! It's great for cutting on as it is self healing, but it is also really useful for rolling out small details on as its non stick with a slight texture. It also has loads of useful measurements, lines, angles and circles on it to help when you are modelling. I wish I had found this tool sooner.
7: A Stand Mixer
A stand mixer is your most essential piece of kit. There are lots on the market to suit all budgets, but my preference is the Kenwood K-Mix. I have had mine for over 5 years and it is still going strong. I've tried another of the big brand mixers and I did not like it one bit. Again, it is personal preference, but for the money, I don't think you can go wrong with a K-Mix.
If you are savvy, you can often pick them up on E-Bay for under £180 which for something you will use every single time you make a cake, is a great investment. If your model doesn't come with the flexible beater, I would recommend you buy that as an extra tool as it is much better for making cake mix and buttercream as it scrapes the side of the bowl as it mixes.
8: A Cornflour Dusting Pouch/Pot
Yes, you can make your own one of these from a brand new cloth and a rubber band, but it is handy to have a ready made one. I favour this Wilton one. When you are rolling out small pieces of icing for flowers, models etc, you should always use corn flour, so this little pouch will get a lot of use.
9: Foam Balls
If you plan on making cupcakes as part of your business then these are essential. They help form domed pieces of icing that you can decorate and place on top of buttercream on your cupcakes. I would suggest getting 2 sets to begin with so you have enough for 12 cupcakes, then just add to your collection as you need them.
10: A Cake Leveller
If you want straight, even layers in your cakes then a cake leveller is a must. There are all different kinds on the market. I like to use the little green and white adjustable plastic ones pictured above that I attach to my 14" cutting knife. They are really cheap on eBay here. I would recommend ordering a few sets and sometimes they do break (I am clumsy!). Or you can get a wire leveller like this Wilton one. Or if you want to pull out the big guns, you can splash out on an Agbay! I haven't taken the plunge with that yet as they are super expensive and also very sharp. I saw a tutor at a cake class once almost lose her finger! So for now, the 99p eBay levellers will do me!
I hope you have found that useful. Maybe you already have all of these tools, or perhaps you are just beginning your cake journey out and didn't know where to start. Thank you for reading and check back soon for more blog posts.