We’ve been getting a lot of questions about airbrushing cakes lately, so I put together a beginner’s tutorial. Check it out, and refer to this checklist of things to remember when using an airbrush.
- Use your airbrush with food safe colors only to avoid cross contamination. Do not use the same machine for crafting and for cakes.
- Follow the use, care, and cleaning instructions provided by the manufacturer of your airbrush to keep your machine running smoothly.
- Sketch out your cake design prior to beginning so you have a clear idea of which colors go where on the cake, and in what order you will spray them onto the cake.
- Just like using a piping bag, pressure, speed, and angle are super important. Practice makes perfect, so airbrush onto paper towels or parchment paper to get a feel for your machine. Kids coloring books are also great for practicing because you can try to stay inside the lines. Or not stay inside the lines – whichever you prefer!
- Cover all surrounding surfaces to protect them from airbrush color. Use butcher paper, old newspapers, science fair backboards, or disposable plastic tablecloths for easy clean up.
- Hold the airbrush nozzle 6 – 8 inches from the surface of the cake. If you get closer, the force of the air from the nozzle can cause the surface of your cake to get pocked. Further than 8 inches and the airbrush color will fly everywhere…your countertops, cabinets, and maybe a little bit on the cake, too.
- Spraying with the nozzle at a 45° angle will produce broad, softer lines. Hold the nozzle at a 90° angle for a sharper, more defined line. Darken colors by retracing them with the airbrush.
- Clean out the pipes between colors with a squeeze bottle full of hot water. Colors won’t get muddied, and your needle will stay clear of build up. Cleaning the pipes well after each use will prevent ugly splatters on your cakes down the road.
- Airbrushing is a great way to decorate icing or fondant covered cakes.
- Heighten airbrushed decorations with other design elements:
- Add buttercream accents, borders, and inscriptions for extra dimension.
- Stencils are easy, elegant, and reusable.
- Cut out fondant flowers or shapes.
- Tinted piping gel looks like liquid – try it for water or beverages.
- Color Mist™ is an inexpensive alternative to an airbrush machine. It comes in a rainbow of colors and couldn’t be easier to use. Great for cakes, cupcakes, and even cookies.
Beth Somers is the Senior Test Kitchen Manager and has taught at the internationally acclaimed Wilton School of Cake Decorating and Confectionery Art in Darien, IL. As a competitor on the Food Network's Cupcake Wars, she shined as a champion during season 6. Before joining Wilton, Beth honed her pastry skills at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago. Beth loves showing people how fun and easy it can be to bake and decorate amazing sweet treats with Wilton products.