3 Secrets to Making Gorgeous—and Delicious–Cakes at Home

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Pinterest is great and all, but it also puts a lot of pressure on us to make picture-perfect crafts and baked goods. You don’t want to end up a Pinterest Fail, do you? Luckily, you can elevate your cake game with just a few simple tricks!

The Key to Delectable White Cake

Before we get into decorating, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. To get the perfect flavor in your made-from-scratch white cake, you’ll need more than just vanilla. In fact, you should actually use 3 parts vanilla extract, 2 parts almond extract, and 1 part lemon extract. Seriously, you won’t believe the difference this makes in the flavor of your basic cakes. It’s also ah-maze-ing in sugar cookies!

Does that formula sound crazy complicated? You can also order this top-secret blend as “princess flavoring” from many online baking suppliers.

Master the Frosting Basics

If you don’t have an offset spatula and a turntable, you’ll never get good results when frosting your cakes. These 2 essential tools are not expensive, but they make such a huge difference.

Always wait until cakes are completely cooled before trying to frost them—otherwise, the fat in the frosting will melt, and everything will be ruined forever. Make frosting from scratch rather than using the prefab stuff. A simple buttercream tastes divine and is really easy to whip up at home.

Make sure your cake layers are level, cutting the tops off with a serrated knife if necessary. (Yes, you can eat the bit you cut off.) Then put a cardboard round on your turntable, followed by your first layer of cake. Place a generous amount of frosting on top, then level it with your offset spatula. Add the second layer, and a third, if you’re really ambitious.

The crumb coat is next. This is a thin layer of frosting that helps keep everything together. Without it, you might end up with crumbs all up in your beautifully smooth frosting. Smooth the good stuff on with a nice, slow movement of your turntable. Press gently with the offset spatula as you go.

The top layer of frosting gets applied the same way. Just scoop up some buttercream with your spatula and then rotate your turntable to get a smooth finish. When it comes to frosting cakes, slow and steady is always best!

Russian Piping Tips

These little wonders are all over the internet—and for good reason! The jumbo-sized piping tips create incredible flowers and other designs with just a simple squeeze. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be creating cupcakes topped with bouquets of roses and ribbons of rainbow-colored buttercream in no time!

Experts advise that there’s a little bit of a learning curve, so practice on a sheet of parchment paper until you get the right pressure and consistency. You can totally eat the little frosting flowers afterward!

To get multiple colors of frosting in one flower, use an offset spatula or palette knife to spread a layer of buttercream in one color all around the inside of your piping bag. Then fill the bag with a contrasting color. Pros also recommend piping simple leaves with a leaf tip to make your flowers look a little more realistic.