Learn how to pipe buttercream like a professional, find out which type of icing to use, and get handy cheat's tips for speedy decorating

Which icing should I use?

Water or glacé icing is simple to make – just add water or fruit juice to icing sugar. It’s delicious on bakes like lemon drizzle cakes.

Buttercream is made of one part butter and two parts icing sugar. Use for sandwiching cakes together or icing cupcakes.

Royal icing contains egg white and is the traditional covering for Christmas cake.

Ready-to-roll icing gives a smooth professional finish to special-occasion cakes.

How to ice a cupcake

Fill your icing bag by standing it in a pint glass, spoon in a small amount of icing and twist the bag closed so the icing is pushed to the nozzle. Hold the bag between your thumb and first two fingers and off you go!

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cake decorations

Decorations

There is a wide range of readymade cake decorations available to buy, from edible glitter and sugar pearls to chocolate confections and iced shapes.

Multicoloured sprinkles are a classic and colourful decoration for buttercream.

Edible glitter is brilliant for baking with kids and comes in different colours such as blue, yellow and pink.

Decorative sugar pearls add a shimmer to buttercream or look good pushed into royal ready-to-roll icing. Try contrasting colours for a bold and bright effect.

Use shapes like mini chocolate buttons or iced flowers to quickly decorate a birthday cake.

Decorating tips

1. If you don’t have a piping bag, snip the corner off a plastic freezer bag to make your own.

2. When icing a cake, fill the piping bag to no more than half full at a time, so it’s easier to control.

3. Sieve edible glitter a few inches above your bake to get an even distribution.