My Favorite Cake Decorating Tools

February 10th, 2010 by Mary Gavenda

Someone just asked me to name my favorite cake decorating tool. That is a very big question.

First, let’s define tool. According to Webster’s dictionary – tool, noun: 1) a hand instrument used to aid in mechanical operations. 2) the cutting or shaping part in a machine; also a machine for shaping metal in any way. 3) an instrument or apparatus used in performing an operation or necessary in the practice of a vocation or profession. That’s the definition that works for cake decorating! and 4) a person used by another. Hey that’s me! Glad to help you!

So now, what’s my favorite tool? Hmmmm…There are too many to choose from – angled spatulas for icing my cakes, pattern presses for easy designs and lettering on a cake and stencils too, rolling pin guide rings for fondant… And the list can go on and on. But my three (I know they only asked for one!) favorite tools that I could not live without are:

  1. Cake Release
  2. Bake Even Strips
  3. Non-Stick Parchment Paper

I know it might sound silly but I use these items the most.

Cake Release

1. Cake Release

Cake Release is used for coating cake pans instead of greasing and flouring. Shake the bottle and then squeeze a small amount in the pan; use a pastry brush to lightly coat the entire inside of the pan. Then add your batter and you know the rest…bake, cool and release without STICKING! I have even forgotten to remove a cake and it still came out of the pan without sticking.

2. Bake Even Strips

Bake Even Strips are used for baking a level cake. These strips properly conduct the heat so the cake sides don’t bake before the center. Have you ever baked a cake where the center raised higher than the sides? That happens because the sides baked first because they are closer to the heat, which makes sense…right?

Bake Even StripsTo use Bake Even Strips, soak them in water, squeeze out the excess so they don’t drip, and pin them around the outside of round, square or sheet cake pans. Sometimes you can get them around a few of the character cakes, but it does depend on the shape of each pan. Then bake your cake and the results will surprise you! A more even height cake! I’ve lost the pins that come with each set and have been using those U-shape drapery pins or you can get T pins at a hobby/craft shop.

Parchment Paper

3. Parchment Paper

Then there is the parchment paper (on the roll). It is great for baking cookies, especially when you hate washing the cookie sheets between batches. You don’t need as many cookie sheets when baking if you are using parchment paper. I usually use 2 or 3 sheets and I only put one in my oven at a time so I rotate as needed. I can get my cookie shapes rolled out, dropped or shaped as needed before a cookie sheet is ready.

I just take a damp cloth and wipe the table or counter where working, then place a sheet of parchment (cut to same size as cookie sheet) down and go to work with my cookie dough. No major mess to clean up after baking, just throw out the parchment. You still have to wash your cookie sheets when your baking is done, but no more scrubbing those baked-on tiny fragments.

I swear by parchment not only for baking or smoothing out my buttercream iced cake, but also for lining my roasting pans. I hate cleaning my roasting pans that are used for any meat or even casseroles or lasagna! Before, I would have to let them soak before scrubbing and scrubbing. No more! I just line the pan and let the parchment paper extend up the sides. If doing a roast on a rack, place the parchment under the rack.

But remember, parchment paper does not work for broiling or toaster ovens…unless you want a fire roasted meat! If you don’t have it on the roll, you can use parchment triangles for lining cookie sheets, smoothing your iced cakes and lining pans. But it just won’t hold the liquid like the one piece from the roll.

So now, let’s hear what’s your favorite tool? I’m sure each of you will have something different. I know Wilton’s Blog is one of your favorite tools too! You can learn so much by sharing with each other. Keep it going, keep sharing and we’ll learn together.

Happy Decorating!

Mary Gavenda Mary is a Senior Cake Decorator at Wilton. She started her cake decorating career as one of the first Wilton Method teachers in the Chicago area, teaching at various Sears, Montgomery Wards and JCPenney stores and earned her place in the Wilton Hall of Fame. As a cake decorator in the Decorating Room, she creates the cakes for photography used on new labels and packaging and in all Wilton publications. Mary also teaches the Introduction to Gum Paste Class at The Wilton School. Mary is a member of The International Cake Exploration Societé (ICES), an organization promoting the art of food and cake decorating throughout the world. She has served as Illinois State Representative, Past ICES Vice President and Corresponding Secretary during her 3-year term on the ICES Board of Directors. She is still active in the organization.

41 Replies

  1. kim says:

    I will agree with you those are also 3 of my top tools also. I love parchment paper when I am doing cookies especially.

  2. juna lewis says:

    have you ever used heating cores for heart shaped cakes?

    • Mary Gavenda says:

      HI Juna,
      I have only used the heating core in 3′ high cakes. But they can be used in 2″ large size cakes if you want. I haven’t had a problem baking with 2″ high pans of any shape in my oven, but some of the never model ovens are smaller. The heating core can help properly conduct the heat for the cakes to bake evenly. So if you are having any issues with baking, why not try it.
      Don’t forget, the bake-even strips will help too!

  3. Susan J. Sias, WMI says:

    I must agree with you Mary! These are the three items that I am always sold out of and continually ordering in my stores as well! I show these items to my students during the first night of Course 1 – Discover Cake Decorating and they are are sold on how fantastic these products will work for them in their kitchens too! Thank you for all of your great input!!

  4. Tanya says:

    I am from Russia. Were i can buy

    • Mary Gavenda says:

      Tanya, I checked with our International Department and was informed that we have a distributor in Russia. You can contact contact our Moscow distributor: BUSINESS-CLASS CY., LTD
      Tel.: +7(495) 780-3152 ext.109
      Attn: Irina Shirinyan
      73 Volokolamskoye Sh
      Moscow 125424

      Hope they are able to help you with your decorating supllies.

  5. Alicia says:

    Someone told me to reduce the temp I bake at and extend the baking time when using the bake even strips. Is this true and by how much do I decrease and increase time.

    • Mary Gavenda says:

      I haven’t decreased temperature or increase time when using the bake even strips. When I bake my cakes, the size of the cake will play a factor in increasing time or decreasing temperatures.
      I usually tell when a cake is baked completely by touch, if it springs back when touched. Some will do the toothpick or cake tester method to see if they come out clean after being inserted. I do start with the suggested baking time and then start watching the cake for signs. Sometimes cakes will start to pull away from the sides of the pan, but when using the bake even strips, that usually happens once they are removed from the oven and the strips are removed from the pans as the cake cools.
      If I’m baking large cakes and especially if they are a tighter fit in my oven, I decrease the temperature to 325 instead of 350. That goes for pans with dark finishes, back those at 325 too.

  6. marilia says:

    Em Portugal existe alguma escola? onde possa aprender e para comprar os vossos artigos? Eu vivo em Cascais perto de Lisboa obr

    Em portugal existe alguma escola vossa onde possa aprender? E para comprar os vossos artigos? Moro em Cascais perto de Lisboa Obr

    Existe em Portugal alguma escola vossa? E para comprar os vossos
    artigos? Moro em Cascais perto deLisboa Obr.

  7. Estela says:

    ruego me envien la revista en español. vivo en España, Ibiza
    me dedico a la repostería para celíacos.
    Hay alguna escuela cerca donde aprender?
    Agradezco me informen.

  8. Matilde Suarez says:

    sera posible que me envien la revista en espanol esta muy bueno el material q me envian pero se me hace dificil entender vivo en Puerto Ordaz Estado Bolivar Venezuela

  9. Natasha says:

    One of my favorite tools is a flower nail, which I not only use for making flowers, but also use instead of a heating core when making large cakes. I just spray it with baking spray and pour the batter around it, it really helps cook the middle evenly!

    • Mary Gavenda says:

      We have heard that decorators have used our Wilton Flower Nails as heat conductors for baking smaller cakes to insure that the cake bakes evenly, something we all want. There is nothing worse than when serving a beautifully decorated cake and finding that the cake inside is not baked through. The Wilton nails, however, were not intended for this purpose, so although the nail may work this way, we recommend using the metal core that was designed for this purpose. If the nails are used, the finish of the nail may discolor and peel off which is obviously undesirable.

  10. Natasha says:

    That is exactly how I do it, you explained it perfectly!

  11. Tanya Short says:

    Hello Mary, I’m not sure if you are the correct person to contact? but here goes.
    I hand craft cake toppers please visit my website.
    I also make cake pillar and divider covers, two of these designs are on my website. I am in the process of expanding this design range, My intention is to appeal to the novice cake maker and Professional alike.
    Wilton have a wide range of pillars which require different methods of application can I ask which kind of pillars would you reccomend to the novice cake maker for use with my pillar covers (they are made to measure tubes ready to go! ) thank you.
    with regards

    • Mary Gavenda says:

      From visualizing your crafted design from your description, I would recommend the Wilton Crystal-look Spiked Pillars, Grecian Spiked Pillars or the Baker’s best Disposable Pillars with rings. You can slide your designs on the pillars from the bottom up. The other style of pillars will have a bottom you’ll have to work around. Using a spiked type pillar, make it easier just to slide the designs on them.

      Check out the pillars in the SHop WIlton Online Products, under Wedding Store and look for the pillars in the Wedding Cake assembly and stands.

      Good luck,

  12. Mary says:

    I am new to cake decorating and have looked at several of your magazines and saw the multi coupler in one of them. It appears to be a great decoration tool. However, when trying to find oen I discovered that they are no longer available and several people are looking to purchase them. Is it possible that Wilton will again produce and sell the multi coupler?


  13. Katy Judy says:

    I purchased a Dimensions Giant Cupcake Pan but it had no information wrapper with it. I baked one cake in it already and it turned out perfect. I frosted the top and decorated but left the bottom unfrosted. Would be grateful for any ideas for a new user.

  14. Mary Gavenda says:

    Glad you like the Dimensions Giant Cupcake Pan! It’s a great cake idea and so easy to use for any occasion.
    If you have the 2010 Yearbook, you will see several ideas using this pan and by changing the bottom, you can create several looks. For the bottom of the cupcake, just pipe lines using a tip 12 to create the baking cup liner. Or ice it smooth and then add piped lines for baking cup too.
    Turn the bottom section upside down and you have a mushroom look for a house or a Mushroom. Add a few bugs or butterflies and you have new ideas for children s cakes. There might even be a few designs on our website too. So take a look at the current yearbook for more ideas.
    Hope that can get you started with more ideas for your new Cupcake!

  15. Aubrey says:

    I’d like to share something with the ladies here… I have taken all of the Wiltons Classes that were available to this date. LOVE THEM! But one thing that I brought to the class that none of the other ladies are too familiar with are new and unique tools. Let me explain. I work full time in the prototype automotive world. I am a technician on prototype vehicles. So, I had some ideas that many wouldn’t just because of that knowledge. Like using a gasket scraper (brand new, sanitized, and hand washed after being sanitized) to smooth the sides of a cake. Depending on the height, you could even use a drywall knife (same situation as the scraper). They come in widths of up to 8″. Perfect for stacked cakes! And not that I don’t love the caddy’s, but I was able to get a large tool bag from Snap-On tools that would hold more and it still held everything in place. My instructor loved that I was able to help her with some things just with some ideas that came from outside the cake world. I’ve gotten REALLY good with crumb coating and getting smooth icing with the drywall knife. My husband thought it odd that I asked him to get one for me when he made a run to the hardware store until he saw what I wanted to do. He watches all the cake shows with me and we both come up with ideas like this. He and I work together.

    Maybe this will come in handy for you too!

  16. Aubrey says:

    One more thing… PVC pipe cleaned properly works great for large pieces of fondant! You can get it in all lengths!

  17. Dee says:

    Please can some body help me located the Multi-Coupler. I would like to have one for this Christmas. Wilton should really come back with this one.

    • Mary Gavenda says:

      It was a great tool to give you a variety of borders and details, using three different tips.
      But you know it’s almost extinct! Sometimes, you might come across it at a garage sale or if you have a well established, ok, older cake decorating store, you might find one there. Some decorators have found them on EBay.
      Best of luck with your search.

  18. esther seminare says:

    I am looking for an all purpose multi coupler. Any info as to availability

  19. esther seminare says:

    Thanks, I’ll try ebay.

  20. Lynn Schultz says:

    I looked all over the internet for references to the multi coupler but didn’t find much. Then I finally found this discussion about it. I have a multi coupler listed right now on Ebay!

  21. Secrets revealed. I really enjoy following your tips. I’m a newbie to baking.

  22. Thank you for the tips! I really enjoy reading your article and i learned a lot from it.Keep inspiring many people and Keep up the good work!

  23. Jennis says:

    A million thanks for posting this infromatoin.

  24. ruchika says:

    i want buy a cake rotater. where could i get this in india??

  25. Mary Gavenda says:

    There is a distributor in New Delhi that might be helpful to you. I’m not sure what products they carry but maybe they can direct you if they can’t help you.

    CCDS Baker’s Warehouse
    New Friends Colony, New Delhi-110025, India

  26. Dhara says:

    I want to know the name of the device by which we make small flower shaped dots on the princess cakes.

  27. Mary Gavenda says:

    DId you have a cake design in mind to show what precise design you need? I’m not sure which style you are asking about.
    Some flowers are piped with a small round tip in a design of a 5 petal flower shape. You can use a small round tip, such as a tip 2 or 3.
    If you want to imprint the design on a cake, you can use the rounded end of the thin modeling stick or even the end of a decorating brush or a toothpick.
    If you can offer more information or even a picture/link, I’d be happy to help identify it for you.

  28. Nancy Yakush says:

    Hi! I recently found a Wilton decorating book that pictured the multi-coupler. I know that they are hard to come by and all but extinct. Since Wilton is always reinventing things (look at the new coupler), perhaps there is enough interest to have Wilton update or re-produce the original? I see there is a lot of feedback on here looking for it. I think it might be time to bring back an oldie and a goodie! 🙂

    • Mary Gavenda says:

      HI Nancy,
      Thanks for your thoughts on the od muti-tip couplers. I have passed your comments on to the Product Manager responsible for that cake decorating tools/tips catagory. You never know what can come back. I do remember using those couplers in the past, so I’m dating myself! They did make it easier to pipe some borders all at once. I was just looking at a picture of an old cake with stringwork and they used the multi-coupler to achieve the overlapping stringwork shown.
      Keep sending your thoughts and recommendations and I’ll gladly pass them on.

  29. I can’t think of a more useful tool than the multi-coupler.This a decorators dream come true.

  30. LaDawn says:

    Can you wash the bake even strips in the washer after use?

    • Desiree Smith says:

      Hello LaDawn,

      We do not recommend putting Bake Even Strips in a dishwasher or washing machine. Lightly handwashing with soap and water is best.



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