Online Class: Cake Decorating 101

This course is designed to help students understand the fundamental concepts of cake decorating -- from the designing/planning to actual implementation.

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  • 18
  • 30
    Exams &
  • 6,693
    have taken this course
  • 14
    average time
  • 1.4

Course Description

Have you ever had a greasy puddle of icing on your cake plate? By the end of Cake Decorating 101, you'll be assured this will never happen to one of your cakes. Cake decorating is not just buttercream anymore.  It is the final packaging everyone sees first and should entice people to imagine the texture and flavor of what lies beneath the icing. 

Why do you want to learn to make great cakes?

  1. An upcoming wedding (you've seen what a purchased wedding cake can cost)  
  2. Did you agree to be a "classroom mother" and want to make special cakes for the holidays or specific units?
  3. Is there a baker in the family you're dying to out-do?  
  4. Are you looking for the appeal offered by more traditional domestic skills?
  5. Are you hoping to enter a local or regional baking competition?
  6. Are you thinking of baking to earn some extra dough?
  7. Is your organization looking for new fundraising opportunities like an upper scale cake walk, perhaps?

These are only a few of the reasons that may have attracted you to this course. However, whatever your motives may be, here are the skills you can look forward to gaining in the following lessons:

  • Equipment, utensils, tools and preparations
  • The basics of cake-baking: decorating techniques, planning and designing your cake, lining your tines, and more
  • Working with Marzipan, Icing, Glaze and Filling Choices
  • Decorating your cake with butter cream icing
  • Decorating your cake with royal icing
  • How to make and use a piping bag
  • Decorating with Sugar Flowers (and Other Gum Paste Creations)
  • Making and Decorating Wedding Cakes
  • Creating decorative children's cakes
  • Holiday and celebration cakes
  • Theme Cakes
  • Beloved Cupcakes
  • And More Cake and frosting recipes to express your creativity

With practice and patience, cake decorating can be learned. This exclusive course starts you out with the basics from designing your work space, cake baking, decorating tools, prepping a cake for decorating and many tips of the trade to help you create delectable cakes, icings and fillings. You'll learn the importance of texture and the temperament of icings, how to avoid cake catastrophes, ways to fix them and still keep your cake looking perfect.

Whether you're looking to start a cake decorating business or just make cakes for family and friends, Cake Decorating 101 will teach you all you need to know to turn out professionally decorated cakes. You'll develop techniques practiced by professional cake decorators such as applying buttercream icing, how to make a rose, level a cake, pour ganache and master a piping bag.

From breath taking designs to whimsy, all the latest cake decorating trends are disclosed, with instructions and ideas about how to bake and decorate the darlings of the cake world, finger licking cupcakes.

Course Motivation

Basic Supplies and Equipment
Here's a preliminary list of supplies and equipment you'll need in order to get baking. However, keep in mind that this isn't by any means an all-encompassing list. You may come upon recipes that require something different or extra-special. But, these items should be enough to get you started.       
  1. Mixers - Different recipes will call for different kinds of mixers. There are large, stand-up heavy-duty mixers (ideal for recipes that require extensive mixing times), or smaller, portable hand-held electric mixers (ideal for quick mixing and/or smaller quantities.)
  2. Mixing bowls - We recommend that you invest in a graduated set of stainless steel bowls. Not only can they be heated and cooled, they also don't break and can be quickly and easily cleaned up. An added bonus? You can use the extra-large variety for sifting dry ingredients. Other uses? As a double boiler.
  3. Double boilers - If you can find one (and you have the money to spare), double boilers are a necessity. However, you can create your own makeshift version easily, and without busting your budget. Just set a large stainless steel bowl over a large pot of boiling water (paying attention to any instructions as to whether you should allow the pan to touch water or not.) These are great, because you'll be using gentle, indirect heat to melt or cook a given ingredient (instead of burning it.) Uses: for melting chocolate, heating whipped cream for sauces and fillings, or heating eggs for a Genoise cake.
  4.  Pastry brushes - Opt for natural bristles, versus synthetic ones. They're more flexible and maneuverable, and they hold more liquid (making brushing syrups less frustrating.) Uses: greasing pans, brushing syrup onto layer cakes.
  5. Wax and parchment paper
  6. 8-inch, 9-inch, and 10-inch round cake pans
  7. Spring-form cake pans
  8. Jellyroll pans
  9. Cooling racks
  10. A candy thermometer
  11. Cake boards - They give your cake a more professional appearance and can be found in most baking supply stores. Remember to choose boards that are at least an inch larger than your cake pans.
  12. Long serrated knife (at least 12 to 14 inches long, 1 inch wide and 1/8 inch thick) - This is needed to help split cakes into layers, to decorate the tops of frosted cakes, as well as to help lift cakes and other deserts off of your revolving cake stand.
  13. Revolving cake stand - This single tool will significantly simplify the decoration stage. You can find plastic or metal models. Opt for one with a heavy-based stand, for balance and support, and a removable turntable disk. (Substitutions: plastic, metal, wooden, or marble Lazy Susans)
  14. Spatulas (straight and angled) - Don't confuse these with rubber scrapers. This type more resembles a butter knife than a spatula. The angled variety is great for spreading and applying frosting.
  15. Rubber scrapers - These are good for getting all of your mixes from your pots, pans, and bowls.
  16. Drywall/Construction spatulas - You'll find these at a hardware store, not a baking supply chain. Created for drywall and cement, they also work well for frosting cakes and making fancy chocolate decorations on marble slabs.
  17. Plastic bottles - These are like the kind restaurants use for ketchup, mustard, and barbecue sauce. You can use them to apply syrup, thinned jellies, and sauces.
  18. Pastry triangle comb - it's about 3" in size with troweled teeth of various sizes and depths around the perimeter. Ideal for a clean, perfect, decorative flair for your icing.
  19. Pastry bag and tips - These are for piping decorative designs and shapes, such as stars, swirls, tubes, rosettes, and other decorations onto your cake.
  20. Sieves (small, medium, and large) - These are for sifting, mixing and straining mixtures.
  21. Zester
  22. Grater
  23. Cake boxes
  24. Various cake and candy molds
Planning And Designing Your Cake
One of the reasons many cakes turn out less than perfect stems from a failure to devote enough (or any) time to the planning and design of your cake.  
Obviously, you're looking to present something a bit more spectacular than your standard Duncan Hines, so you've got to approach this cake differently.
  • What is the theme of this cake? Is it a wedding cake? A birthday cake? A kid's cake?
  • What flavors will you use? What colors?
  • What kind of finish are you looking for (buttercream vs. fondant)?
  • How many people will the cake need to feed?
  • Are there any dietary restrictions that you need to keep in mind (for instance, will you need to substitute Splenda , for sugar, or omit nuts from the recipe)?  
Use the answer to these questions, and other questions that come to mind, to help you plan and design your cake from start to finish before you ever even think about breaking out the flour and baking pans. Additionally, you need to come up with a reasonable, accurate time schedule in order to create the most captivating cake you possibly can. 
Creating Your Work Space
Your final preparation before you actually begin baking, will be setting up your work space, and doing it with ease and efficiency in mind. First of all, don't even think about starting your baking in a "dirty" kitchen. Clean and disinfect all surfaces, get your dishes done and start with a clean slate. Next, you'll need to set out all of your materials - your baking supplies, your recipe(s), your cake game plan, as well as any extras you might need (like timers for super-special items like sugar copy photo print outs for decoration, etc.)   Finally, you need to get yourself ready. Wash your hands, put on your apron and make sure you've cleaned out your schedule so you can dedicate enough time to the task at hand.

Only after you've done all of these things will you be ready to get started baking that cake!
  • Completely Online
  • Self-Paced
  • Printable Lessons
  • Full HD Video  
  • 6 Months to Complete
  • 24/7 Availability
  • Start Anytime
  • PC & Mac Compatible
  • Android & iOS Friendly
  • Accredited CEUs
Universal Class is an IACET Accredited Provider

Course Lessons

Average Lesson Rating:
4.4 / 5 Stars (Average Rating)
"Extraordinarily Helpful"
(2,111 votes)

Lesson 1: Getting Started

Let's make sure we have the right supplies before we start decorating our cake. 105 Total Points
  • Lesson 1 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Your interest in Cake Decorating; Reasons for Taking this Course
  • Complete Assignment: An Introduction
  • Complete: Lesson 1 Assignment: Gathering Basic Supplies to begin Baking a Cake

Lesson 2 : Cake Decorating Tools and Work Space

In this lesson, we will get more specific about cake decorating tools that you will use, as well as creating a work organization/space for your cake decorating. 14 Total Points
  • Lesson 2 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 2 Assignment: Cake Decorating tools and Creating your Cake Decorating Workspace
  • Assessment: Lesson 2 : Cake Decorating Tools and Work Space

Lesson 3 : Baking Your First Cake

In this lesson, we will begin this creative process with the successful strategy of designing and planning our cakes. Additional lesson topics: Articles on Cake Designing 13 Total Points
  • Lesson 3 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 3 Assignment: Make Yourself Some Quick Reference Cards
  • Assessment: Lesson 3 : Planning and Designing Your Cake

Lesson 4: The 411 on Cake Baking Basics

First, we need to bake a cake before we can start decorating it. Additional lesson topics: Cake Tier/Layering Techniques Web Resource 25 Total Points
  • Lesson 4 Video
  • Lesson discussions: The design or the taste?
  • Complete: Lesson 4 Assignment: Try Baking and Decorating a Cake

Lesson 5: Basic Cake Decorating Recipes

In this lesson you will learn the basic recipes for baking your cake, frostings, and preparing your cake for decoration. 34 Total Points
  • Lesson 5 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 5 Assignment: Prepare a 2 Layer Box Cake
  • Assessment: Lesson 5 : Planning and Designing

Lesson 6 : Icing, Glaze, and Filling Choices

We will now explore the wonders of using fondant, filling and coating layers, and frequent problems/solutions of decorating your first cake. 35 Total Points
  • Lesson 6 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 6 Assignment: Practice Working with Fondant
  • Assessment: Lesson 6 : Icing, Glaze and Filling Choices

Lesson 7: Decorating With Buttercream Icing

Decorating with buttercream icing - it's smooth, it's creamy, and it keeps its soft texture, making it easy to cut through. In this lesson, we will learn how to make and use this basic icing. 25 Total Points
  • Lesson 7 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 7 Assignment: Working with ButterCream Icing

Lesson 8: Decorating With Royal Icing

Decorating with Royal Icing, also known as glace royal, is another versatile icing you should add to your repertoire.In this lesson, you will learn how to make and use this type of icing. 25 Total Points
  • Lesson 8 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 8 Assignment: Working with Royal Icing

Lesson 9: The Piping Bag

A great deal of cake decorating does require the use of a piping bag. Making and using a piping bag does scare off many cooks, but it really is not difficult to master, as this lesson will demonstrate. 17 Total Points
  • Lesson 9 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 9 Assignment: Practicing Making a Pastry Bag
  • Assessment: Lesson 9: The Scary Piping Bag

Lesson 10: Decorating With Sugar Flowers (And Other Gum Paste Creations)

In this lesson you will learn the secrets of decorating with (or even making your own) sugar flowers as a great way to show off your skills in an elegant, sophisticated way. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 10 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 10 Assignment: Working with Flowers

Lesson 11 : Fruits, Flowers, Fun, and Fancy

In this lesson you will learn how to make flowers, leaves, fruits, frosted ornaments, and a simple stripple cake. 19 Total Points
  • Lesson 11 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 11 Assignment: Practice Making Leafs
  • Assessment: Lesson 11 : Fruits, Flowers, Fun and Fancy

Lesson 12 : Wedding Cakes

Forget traditional! Today's wedding cakes are rising to a whole new level of creativity. In this lesson, you will learn current decorating trends. 19 Total Points
  • Lesson 12 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 12 Assignment: Cake Decorating Expertise
  • Assessment: Lesson 12 : Wedding Cakes

Lesson 13: Decorative Children's Cakes

Now that you've armed yourself with new icings and decorating ideas, it's time to put it all together in an entire cake. We'll begin with creating decorative children's cakes. 25 Total Points
  • Lesson 13 Video
  • Lesson discussions: For your First Cake...
  • Complete: Lesson 13 Assignment: Making Children's Cakes

Lesson 14: Holiday and Celebration Cakes

Holiday and celebration Cakes are always in demand. Whether snowflakes are in the air, turkey is on the table, or Easter eggs are hiding in the shrubbery, there are literally hundreds of occasions that call for a celebration cake. 25 Total Points
  • Lesson 14 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Your Cake Decorating Future
  • Complete: Lesson 14 Assignment: Decorating a Holiday Cake

Lesson 15: Cool Theme Cakes

In this lesson, we will look at many popular theme cakes, such as portrait cakes; how to use gum paste to make a personal statement; and lots of other ideas and recipes. 35 Total Points
  • Lesson 15 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 15 Assignment: Making Memories
  • Assessment: Lesson 15 : Cool Theme Cakes

Lesson 16 : Beloved Cupcakes

Mastering the art of baking and decorating cupcakes must be a part of anyone learning how to make cake desserts. 34 Total Points
  • Lesson 16 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 16 Assignment: Make Some Cupcakes
  • Assessment: Lesson 16 : Beloved Cupcakes

Lesson 17: Express Your Creativity

Marzipan is a wonderful topping that will help you express your creativity. It can be a decorative icing, can provide a firm undercoat for royal icing, or a sugarpaste icing covering. It's very pliable and the white tinted marzipan takes color well. 133 Total Points
  • Lesson 17 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 17 Assignment: Ganache Decorations
  • Complete Assignment: New Things
  • Assessment: Lesson 17 : Express Your Creativity

Lesson 18: Some More Cake and Frosting Recipes

Learn the recipes for cakes, frostings, and icings, including: classic white layer cake, yellow cake, chocolate cake, butter cream icing, royal icing, marzipan, rolled fondant, and gum paste. 100 Total Points
  • Lesson 18 Video
  • Lesson discussions: End of Course Poll; Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course); Course Comments
  • Complete: Final Assignment
Total Course Points

Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Describe the tools and workspace needed to decorate a cake.
  • Describe how to plan and design a cake.
  • Summarize the best cake decorating recipes.
  • Describe icing, glazing and filling techniques.
  • Demonstrate decorating cakes with butter cream icing.
  • Demonstrate decorating cakes with royal icing.
  • Demonstrate creating cake decorations using a piping bag.
  • Summarize methods used to decorate cakes with gum paste.
  • Describe procedures involved in decorating wedding cakes, children's cakes, holiday and celebration cakes.
  • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

Additional Course Information

Online CEU Certificate
  • Document Your Lifelong Learning Achievements
  • Earn an Official Certificate Documenting Course Hours and CEUs
  • Verify Your Certificate with a Unique Serial Number Online
  • View and Share Your Certificate Online or Download/Print as PDF
  • Display Your Certificate on Your Resume and Promote Your Achievements Using Social Media
Document Your CEUs on Your Resume
Course Title: Cake Decorating 101
Course Number: 8900279
Lessons Rating: 4.4 / 5 Stars (2,111 votes)
Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
Availability: This course is online and available in all 50 states including: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, and Washington.
Last Updated: January 2023
Course Type: Self-Paced, Online Class
CEU Value: 1.4 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
Instructor: Nancy Fillip
Syllabus: View Syllabus
Course Fee: $95.00 U.S. dollars

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Student Testimonials

  • "This was an excellent class. I learned quite a bit--especially in the last class. I can't really think of anything that would improve it." -- Susan D.
  • "This course was excellent, really helped build my confidence to be able to go forward with skills I learnt, Nancy was so knowledgeable and encouraging." -- Fiona B.
  • "I had a great time. I loved this course and will be taking others, I really enjoyed the instructor." -- Connie C.
  • "This course was very helpful and was lots of fun." -- Melanie S.
  • "She was super nice and helpful." -- Gina B.
  • "I think the instructor was great....she answered my questions and has been patient in waiting for the pictures. I found the reading material helpful as well as the videos." -- Sandra R.
  • "You're a great instructor! :)" -- Sheri S.
  • "I found all parts of the course very helpful, as it was easy to understand more about icing, of cakes...also the links were a great guideline in finding what I need to." -- Sheri S.
  • "This whole course was very helpful to me, I really did enjoy the whole course, I learned so much, taking this class and I do plan on enrolling in another one just as soon as I complete this course." -- Vanessa J.
  • "Having my instructor on hand at all times to help was great. Great fun great instructor, wish I'd done it earlier." -- Nikki W.
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