Few rooms of the house can be as expensive as the kitchen, and that includes the world of baking / decorating. You can go out and buy MASSIVE packages that have everything you could ever need, and you'll hardly ever use.
We like simple. We like useful. So below is a list of our recommended products to get started with regard to Your Unforgettable Cake training.
They are broken into two lists. The first is specific to cake decorating that most people are unlikely to have sitting around the house.
(The cake-specific items also have affiliate Amazon links for Wilton products. Any affiliate income is donated 100% towards Christian Movie Central, a ministry which raises awareness of Christian films with a Local Focus, in a National Effort, for Eternal Impact!)
I have typically gone with Wilton under the assumption that in 3 years or 10 years they will likely still be around. You may be able to save a few bucks with an alternate or off brand, and that is entirely fine should you choose to do so, but I have had good luck with Wilton over the years.
Stores like Michaels or JoAnn's Fabrics have typically had all the basics needed (tips, couplers, bags), often on sale. Both have transitioned away from Wilton as their "dominant" brand but those are fine as well.
The MOST important parts to try to keep all the same are the couplers. You will want them to be either the same, or so different it is clear which parts go together... mismatched threads are frustrating, and can be messy. Bags or tips are largely interchangable.
The second list are more general household items. Less details or descriptions, and it is up to you whether to get these dedicated for your cake efforts or not.
Cake Decorating-Specific Items
- Disposable Piping Bags (12" or 16")
Any size is fine, but for Buttercream Transfers there is little advantage to anything larger, and rarely will you use a full bag of even these, so we recommend 12" for the lower price.
Per bag prices drop with volume so we always recommend the 100 bag box. (Have some friends taking the class with you? Split the cost!)
Disposable? Yes. You can get reusable bags, or lower cost parchment paper, but our focus is easy and simple. so these are our recommendations.
These are what connect the piping bags above to the piping tips below. Our two biggest tips on these:
a. ALL THE SAME - slight difference in the threads can lead to loose tips and frosting leaks. Since these are almost all the same color regardless of brand, it's just easier to have them all match. (You might still have some crossthread, but still better.) I have typically used Wilton, but it's more about them matching than which specific brand.
b. GET MORE THAN YOU THINK YOU NEED - This process is fun, easy, and as you gain experience, quick. What isn't quick? Cleaning bags and couples because you need another color or start a new bag. You'll need at least one for every color of your design, and if you will be using a specific color for a very fine part of the design AND a wider larger tip, you might want two.
How many colors will your design need? It varies of course. So if you think on the high end you'll need 8, get 12 or 16. You won't regret it! Get 4-packs for savings. (roughly 40% and you'll never just need 1!)
On couplers Amazon seems to be higher, but for convenience and assurance of supply we are listing them all here. Feel free to check your local stores, Wilton direct, or others to check prices.
3. Piping Tips
The tips control the shape and size of your frosting actions. While you can vary the size of your frosting with force and speed, you will want a range of sizes, and as with couplers, I highly recommend getting several more than you need.
If your design has two colors you'll need a finer tip and three with larger sizes, get 2 or 3 times that. It will only take one time that you need to take the #3 tip off the red bag in order to clean and dry it for the blue (and then forget and have to clean / dry and to back to red) for you to wish you'd just spent a couple more bucks for the spares.
I recommend having several of each tip from #1 (very small) through #5 (larger) round tips. Some frosting may need to be thinned to use #1 or you can just use #2. (If you get into very large areas of one color, a larger #10 tip might be useful, but in most cases #5 is sufficient)
The second tip type is a starred tip - I typically use #18 but this is a matter of taste. (There is an advantage as sometimes you can get a #5 round plus #18 star as package for lower cost.)
The tips (and couplers) are where the "500 Piece Cake Decorating Set" miss the mark for our purposes. You might have 40 tips - but only (maybe!) one each of these tips you need.
Having one each is a start, but if you have 34 other tips for leaves, flowers, and on an on, that doesn't help you here.
DEFINITELY check prices on tips, but the downside is your local Michaels, JoAnns or Hobby Lobby might only have one or two of a particular size.
4. Food Coloring
I have typically had good luck with gel food coloring. Liquid is common but depending on depth of color it can affect the frosting consistency. I have been told by a couple people that powdered is good but I do not have direct experience with that
I've added a 12 color set of Wilton gel which I have used. It's a good starter set, but again if you are looking at just 2 or 3 colors it may make more sense to just buy what you need.
Certain colors - specifically black or deep blues or reds, may be easier to purchase already colored or check with a local bakery that does cakes, as trying to get those colors at home can be frustrating.
General Household Items
- Cutting Boards - Your workspace for creating the transfer and freezing. Can use cardboard, but cutting board allows a more firm surface while working and freezing.
- Wax Paper
- Tape (I usually use scotch tape)
- Knives and containers (bowls or sealable) for mixing frosting/colors
- Computer / printer - for reversing images and printing the patterns