How to Write on Cakes ~ Basic tips for beginners

Writing on cakes- beginner tutorial

 

How to write on cakes is probably one of the most NOT asked questions!

If that makes any sense!?

What I mean is that many people have trouble with it, but most won’t really dig in or ask why they are having trouble!

I think it is because this is where a lot of frustration occurs, and perhaps even embarrassment if the final inscription on the cake is not what you had envisioned.

But there are ways to overcome sub-par cake inscriptions!

Just watch the video below for the tips and tricks to see exactly where you may be going wrong.

First of all WHAT you are using to write with will make all the difference in the world.

Buttercream? Chocolate? Royal Icing?

Well, they all have their place. Let me explain.

A little backstory first: (You know me and my stories!) I was a born and bred chocolate writer.

My experience both in the Culinary Institute as a student, and then one of my first and most influential jobs after school commissioned chocolate to write on cakes.

I wish I had some pictures from those days (and yes I say “those days” as if it was an ancient time long ago, but in terms of technology~ IT WAS!)

Sadly I don’t have any pictures of my work from those days……….oh wait…let me break out the scanner and get some old polaroids from 1997!

old pics

So as you can see the delicate fine lines of chocolate is (in my opinion) superior to any other writing medium.

But……. dun dun duhhhhhhhhhh………………………..

When I arrived as the new owner of a 45 year old bakery in NJ way back in 2005, I tried to incorporate the delicate fine lines of chocolate inscriptions on cakes~ I was met by my unhappy customers with:”Why is it black?” “It’s a girl, why is it written in chocolate?”

So…..major sigh…….I was forced to adapt to writing on cakes with buttercream.

But as with anything, people have personal preferences and it is up to you to decide what works for you and what you are most comfortable with.

Buttercream was definitely a learning curve from me, and while I was able to do scroll work in buttercream for wedding cakes and such, I just never really got comfortable with writing on cakes with buttercream as I thought it was inferior and well, just not what I was great at…. CLICK HERE FOR MORE

Anywho…. about Royal Icing:

I would not recommend writing on cakes with royal icing unless the cake is covered with fondant.

Royal Icing is an icing that must dry to be at it’s best, and if you are putting it onto a cake that has an icing like buttercream or worse yet, Whipped Cream or even Cream Cheese Icing!

Gaaaah! This = disaster!

Royal Icing will melt when placed upon another recipe like those since they are so high in moisture content they will surely disintegrate the Royal.

If you make plagues though, little tags made out of gumpaste or fondant– royal icing will be great!

Very fine detailed lines with royal icing for sure!

So you see, you have to be mindful of what you are working with to make sure you can maximize the potential of each and every medium!

Writing on cakes- beginner tutorial

*Cover photo courtesy of Alissa Jayne ~ my star cake decorator when I owned my bakery!

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26 Comments

  1. Gretchen I write the same exact way lol Especially with M’s, N’s & Z’s! I HATE doing cursive for those letters LOL

    Great Video AGAIN! Thank you 🙂

    1. Hi Gretchen, do you have a recipe for the icing that you use to write on cake please? If you do could you please send it through my email? It will be greatly appreciated. Many thanks in advance
      Belle

  2. HI GRETCHIN HOW ARE YOU THANK YOU FOR ALL THE CAKES AND RECIPES
    WHEN U TALK ABOUT ICING FOR WRITTING ON CAKES
    IN OUR SHOP WE USED TO USE CREAM ICING AND U CAN COLOUR THE ICING IT WAS ALLWAYS MADE WHITE ICING THEN COLOUR WITH WHAT EVER COLOUR YOU WOULD NEED ALL THE COLOURS U WANTED AND WE USE TO ICE THE TOP IFF THE CAKES TOO
    AND IF IT WAS TOO THICK MIX A TINY BIT OFF BUTTER CREAM TO THIN IT DOWN AND YOU CAN WRITE ON THE CAKES THE SAME AS CHOCOLATE .. I WILL GIVE YOU THE RECIPE 56 0ZS OF WATER……1LB-8 0ZS CAKE MARGERINE …….. 1LB -8 OZS SOLITE MARGERINE …… 28 LBS OF ICING SUGAR MIX TOGETTHER AND WE USE TOO DECORATE SPONGES WITH IT ON TOP AND THEN USE SMALL PAPER TRIANGLE PIPING BAGS HOW U DO YOUR CHOCOLATE HOPE THIS WAS HELPFULL

  3. I loved you sharing with use a long time a go but the camera prson took over now it just you teaching I love love how you teache you teach slow werw we can follow you please keep adding your recipes and videos.

    Are the recipesyou shar with us the same ones you use in your bakery ?

  4. Hey Chef,
    I have a small oven and I can bake only one cake at a time. Often in a layered cake, the batter is poured into 2 moulds and baked together. In my case, can I bake them one after the other? Is it OK if I leave the batter for long time once it is mixed before baking?

    Or should I make smaller portions meaning I half the quantities and mix the batter twice, bake twice for a layered cake? Please suggest

  5. I was looking for the bakery channel and I couldn’t find it. I actually started doing cake decorating for birthdays, anniversaries for my family and friends after watching your channel countless times. I’m so glad I’ve found you again – You started me off on a journey I didn’t know I could take! Glad you’ve got your own thing going, it’s nice to see!

  6. Hey Gretchen!
    This might sound silly but does your handwriting have any effect on how you write on cakes? I don’t have a terrific handwriting so does that mean my scrollwork on cakes is going to end up looking messy?

    1. Yes for sure, mine is also pretty messy so I have to really concentrate on how I am writing on the cake- but keep practicing!

  7. Hi! I find that when writing with buttercream the buttercream ends up getting splotchy by the end as the warmth from my hand warms it up. As I’m not a professional i usually mix a small amount of coloured frosting so there is not much in the bag which is why it warms up quickly. Should i start with a thicker buttercream than what I need? How thick should it be in general?

  8. I think that I remember a tip from your old video that you may have left out and has been helpful to me!? It was about spacing. Figure out where the center of your writing is. Ex: six letters ur center would be between first three letters and the last three letters. Then start with the center letter and work outwards. Has really helped me keep spacing more accurate. You also used this technique when you were piping rosettes on a cake. Using a clock as a guide. Start with your 12,3,6,and 9 and then fill in the rest. (Something to that effect) just wanted to say Thanks for all you do and these have helped me over the years!

  9. Hi,
    I need to write on ginger cookies that will later be packaged in clear plastic little bags. What type of icing will work best for this? It needs to dry rock solid so it doesn’t smear in the bag.
    Thanks in advance!

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