My cake projects

Absolute beginner? How to decorate your first cupcake.

Cup cake decorating for the total noob!

Cake decorating can be daunting when you’ve never tried before. Here’s the super simple guide to getting started.

Bake or buy your cupcakes. If you’re home baking leave them to cool completely before you begin. Warm cakes can lead to air bubbles in your icing.

What you will need to ice your cake (what you need to decorate it will be in the decoration tutorial)

Materials- Cup cake, jam, icing, icing sugar (for dusting).

Tools- Sharp knife, circle cutter, knife/pallet knife for spreading jam.

Choose your design/tutorial.

If you’re looking for a flat finish, trim the top of your cupcake flat with a sharp knife. (some cake designs are better with a curved top, but flat tops are easier so they’re a good place to start!).

Add a spot of jam (less than 1/4 teaspoon) to the middle of your cake.

Spread across the top of your cake with a knife or palette knife, taking care to keep the jam away from the paper case.

Once you have trimmed and jammed all of your cupcakes clean your work surface to remove any crumbs etc. Dry the surface completely before using your sugar paste.

Find the circle cutter that best fits the top of your cup cake (slightly smaller is better than too big).


Dust your work surface with a sprinkling of icing sugar. Too little and it will stick, too much will dry out your paste. A bit of trial and error might be needed.

Knead your sugar paste on your flat surface. This will make it smooth and pliable for working. Turn your paste over so that the smooth, kneaded side is on top. Roll out your icing using a small rolling pin.


Cut a circle for each cup cake.

Lie our circle on top of your cake. Gently press with the palm of your hand in a circular motion to smooth the icing. If your circle is slightly too small you can work around the edge of the cup cake, gently stretching the icing to the edges.

Techniques for beginners.

Do you remember making play doh or plasticine models at nursery school? Modelling with sugar paste is pretty similar.  It’s sweeter and stickier, but it’s basically the same to work with.


Take your kneaded sugar paste and roll it into a ball between your palms. Easy!


Rolling materials into sausage shapes was one of my favourite nursery activities.

Knead your sugar paste, roll into a ball, then roll with even pressure until it makes the ‘sausage’ size of your choice.


Roll your ball of sugar paste across the middle with a finger to taper the end.


Flatten your sugar paste ball with even pressure, into a circle.


Flatten your ball using more pressure on opposite sides to make an oval shape.


Some sugar paste will stick easily. This will depend on the texture, heat of your hands etc.  If the sugar paste is not sticking well you can use a damp paintbrush to lightly dampen the paste. It should then stick with no problems. Too much water causes it to lose shape and causes colours to run.

I will write about piping for beginners in a separate tutorial.

Have fun!

This entry was published on February 26, 2014 at 1:21 pm. It’s filed under Cake, craft, cupcake, tutorial and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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