Do you want to start cupcake decorating but you’re trying to decide what stuff is actually useful? There are 10 cupcake decorating supplies that I recommend you have on hand at all times. There will always be party theme’s and occasions that you’ll need specific embellishments, but if you have these 10 decorating supplies you can feel rest assured that even if you are asked to make cupcakes on short notice you’ll have all the necessities.
1. Cupcake Pan
A good cupcake pan is essential. Do not waste your time buying the foil cups that say you don’t need a cupcake pan. They do not hold their shape very well, but they do make pretty cupcake liners. The material used in constructing the pan is the most essential factor in deciding what makes a good pan. Silicon cupcake pans and liners have been a popular alternative to metal pans only within the last 5 years. If you are looking for an easy clean up, definitely buy silicon pans. They can cook a little unevenly if your cups are filled very full, but usually you don’t fill the cups completely with batter. The only other down side to silicon is how flimsy they are. You must use two hands to pull a dozen cupcakes out of the oven, whereas with metal pans you can use one hand.
I recommend a good metal pan that is preferably non-stick. Non-stick pans cook 2-3 minutes quicker than steel pans, and they clean up very easily. Look at the construction of the pan. Avoid pans with too many crevasses or parts that attach and detach. Many parts and pieces can clog with batter that might burn and add an undesirable flavor your cupcakes. Cleaning many nooks and crannies on a cheap pan can be difficult and might eventually lead to rust. However, using a toothpick or flat scrub, you can scrape off any spilled batter when the metal pan cools.
2. Cupcake Liners
White cupcake liners are ideal for any celebration. Always have liners on hand to save major time in cleaning a cupcake pan. If you always have white liners on hand and you get into a time crunch, you don’t have to rush to the store. It’s ideal to have the right color of cupcake liners, but with white ones, you can also dye your batter whatever color suits the occasion and it will show through the white liner.
3. Frosting, Cake batter
The last thing you want is to get started making your cupcakes and realize you’re out of a major ingredient. Let me list the most essential ingredients I have on hand at all times.
Box of white cake batter
Box of chocolate cake batter
1 pound bag of powdered sugar
Clear vanilla extract
These 6 supplies are my base for cupcake decorating and they’ll keep you out of a jam too.
4. Frosting Decorating Tips
For any fancy cupcake design, frosting decorating tips are nice to have around. There are hundreds to choose from, but at this link you’ll find which are the most useful cupcake frosting tips. You can do create beautiful cupcakes with very little effort if you choose the right frosting tip. I also recommend having 2 couplers on hand for any projects that require lots of frosting tip swapping. I usually have a coupler on my white frosting, and on my green frosting. Those are the two colors that are interchanged most frequently, and moving your frosting to a whole new bag, or having two bags of white for individual tips just doesn’t make much sense.
5. Frosting Bags
Disposable frosting bags are relatively cheap and take up little space. So just keep some on hand. The cost difference between the 16 inch and the 12 inch bags is minimal, so I keep the 16 inch bags on hand. If you are decorating for a party, you’ll need the larger bag anyway. If you only need to pipe out a small amount of frosting, you can fold up the remaining part of the bag and it won’t hinder your decorating.
Why disposable bags verses pastry bags or parchment bags? Cleaning out buttercream frosting from pastry bags is possible, but it’s just more work. Throwing away the mess from a time intensive project is so much nicer than adding another 10 minutes in clean time. Plus, eventually pastry bags wear out just like the disposable bags. The dyes from different frostings will tint the pastry bags and eventually they will tear open along their seams. Parchment bags are cheaper than the disposable bags, but they have to be folded, whereas the disposables are ready to use.
The silicone pastry bags do not have seams, don’t stain, and are much easier to clean than their predecessor, but they are a little pricey. If you are starting a business, you will burn through disposable bags pretty quick, so obviously the pastry bags are better finacially. Start right and buy the quality pastry bags so you’re not forced to replace them in a month.
6. Frosting Dye
Make sure to have frosting dye on hand. The food coloring in the baking section is liquid based and will change the consistency of your frosting. The right dye can be purchased at most crafts stores or cake decorating supply stores. If you are not using this dye every week or so, don’t tear off the whole freshness seal. Poke a hole in it with a toothpick and dip into that hole until you get the amount of color you want. Don’t mix colors. They don’t usually turn out. Just buy the right color of dye. A caution with the color red. You have to add a lot of red dye to get true red frosting. This will dye your guests’ mouth red if you get too crazy with the dye. If you are only using dots of red here and there or for the writing, may I suggest you just buy premade red frosting.
7. Decorating Tool Caddy
You need something to hold your decorating tools and supplies. Wilton sells some wonderful tool caddies made especially for cake decorating. The ultimate caddy is great for containing all your frosting tips, dye, spatulas, frosting bags, and any other optional items like sprinkles, decorating magazines, couplers, cake cutters, and etc. There are the smaller cake decorating caddies that look like small tool boxes. These also hold the frosting tips, several dyes on a removable rack that sits over a small space that can hold spatulas and a few other tools. Both of these are excellent. You can get creative though and buy an actual hardware tool boxes large enough to hold specialty cupcake decorating pans, tips, cake decorating wheels, and come with wheels for easy transporting. Also, three drawer totes are available at many stores and will work fine for containing all of your decorating supplies. Regardless of which container you choose, I definitely recommend something to hold it all and keep it separate from your other crafts.
8. Frosting Tip Cleaner
The frosting tip cleaner is a simple tool that is so necessary. One side is a small bristle brush, and on the other side is a flat brush like a broom. Both sides are needed for the tight corners and edges that are inherently apart of frosting tip construction.
9. Cake Decorating Wheel
Let’s not pretend that someone who loves cupcake decorating doesn’t also love cake decorating. The cake decorating wheel is essential if you are decorating a cake, but often I turn my cupcake decorating into a cupcake cake in which a decorating wheel is very handy. The turning wheel helps you stay in one position and keep the decorations even rather than walking around the cupcake cake or accidently turning your stand too hard.
10. Cupcake Carrier
A cupcake carrier is not only a great idea for transporting your delicious treats from one place to another, but it also is perfect for storing extra cupcakes so they don’t dry overnight. There are several models to choose from, but I feel the collapsible cupcake carrier is one of the best on the market. Too many carriers are bulky and inconvenient to store. This collapsible carrier can also be used on a round cake which is an added benefit for those who love cupcake decorating and cake decorating.