You’ve spent the last hour decorating your perfect cake. The theme is expertly reflected. Maybe it’s robot dinosaurs. Perhaps it’s a sophisticated retirement cake with a hand painted lake scene. Now for the inscription. What are you going to do? Use your normal cursive? Yeah. That’s alright. It’s nice and it’s readable. But what if you continued your theme into the words? What if you made your inscription part of the decorations versus something you snuck in at the end?
I’d like to show you a few handwriting styles I use during the week. It’s an extra little touch to give your cake that professional polish. I think of them in my head as my cake fonts. I’ve got a pretty good collection of styles I’ve picked up, but let’s just talk about 5 of my favorites. I’m going to skip super ornate cursive, it seems most people have that covered and doing girly stuff seems to come naturally to most decorators.
Once you’ve gotten comfortable with your cursive cake writing you can begin playing around with embellishment. For this type of writing I write fairly normally with less emphasis on keeping all the letters uniform. I like to start at the far left of my cake and start a little “scribble” line, little loops and curves, leading up to where I want my message to start. At this point you go from scribble line to writing the words. You can link multiple words together, but make sure to leave a defined space with a gentle looping line in between them to make sure your message is still readable. When you finish your last word have the letter trail off into another scribble line that goes to the far right of your cake.
I like using this style for fun party cakes. It’s good for boys and girls and even adults. How cool would it look to have fun scribble lines in rainbow colors across the cake with some of the scribbles being the message? Or, what if you drew a little sewing needle around one end of the words to make it look like embroidery thread for a sewing themed cake? Ooo! It was also look fun as dental floss on a cake for someone in the dental business!
Sometimes your cake needs print for writing instead of cursive. Maybe it’s for a young child and you want them to be able to read it. Maybe you want a more masculine look. Loopy pretty handwriting is my go to style, but it doesn’t always look right. Sometimes the theme of the cake is just asking for print. And if you can do print, why not do “print plus”? It’s a little extra touch to give your writing a little more style.
Start with printing out your message. Leave yourself some space, if your letters are too crammed together or the letters themselves are written too compact you won’t have a lot of space for the next step. Once you’ve written out your words come back and thicken parts of each letter. I use all the vertical areas on the letters. And if there are multiple vertical spots, like a “s” or an “o” I use the left most side. You could do all the vertical areas too if you want, but if the letters are already small you may lose the thin parts of your letters and just end up with just bubble letters.
Connect the Dots
This one is similar to Print Plus, but it’s less formal and more youthful. I like to write out my full message, sometimes with a more jumbled appearance versus neat and orderly. Once you’ve printed your letters you can go back and add little dots to the ends of all the straight lines. It should look like you played connect the dots when you wrote out the words.
This is a fun one for baby showers or toddler birthdays. You could turn a few of the dots in to little daisies for a bubble daisy themed cake or hearts on Valentine’s Day. I also like to use it on frog themed cakes, I don’t know why, but the jumbled nature of it and the little dots remind of floppy frog legs jumping all over.
Why wouldn’t you want to finish off your Halloween cake or over the hill cake with perfect themed writing? For this style I use a size 2 round. If you use too big of a tip you don’t get that nice fine line and the end of your letters. Now, you’ll want to think of each letter of the alphabet as a series of lines. So, an “H” is pretty easy, as is a “L”. But what about that “S” or B”? On curved letters I try to break them into little half circle shapes. It’s ok if your “O” doesn’t have a perfect rounded bottom. The goal is to make your letters look like they are made of drips or that some creature was scratching them into your cake with long claws.
To pipe the letters you start at the highest point and apply more pressure than normal. You want the top portion of your line to be thick. Then, as you draw the line down or to the side you let up on the squeezing pressure to let the line taper off as you move. The more contrast you can create between the thick and thin areas the better your writing will look. Don’t be afraid to have your letters be a little uneven, let some of them trail off longer than others. The irregular look will add to the creepiness.
For our last writing style let’s get a little more colorful. Let’s talk about writing in double color. I like using this method on cakes with very busy backgrounds to help set off the writing. Or sometimes it’s helpful on a monotone cake to help set off the similarly colored writing. And there are always kids who ask for “pink and purple happy birthday!”. And hey, it also just looks cool, so why not?
You’ll need 2 round tips, one larger than the other. So, if I’m going to write with a size 2 I’d use a size 4 for the shadow background. Or a size 3 with a size 5 shadow. You get the idea.
Start with the larger of the two rounds. Write out your message. You want the letters to be a little bulky. Now, either let the frosting sit a few minutes to firm up or use a little powdered sugar on your finger or flower nail. Tap down the letters, make them nice and flat. At this point it’s probably going to be hard to read the words, that’s ok, that’s actually good. Now take your smallest round tip and rewrite your message of the top of the flatten words. And there, you’ve done it, double color writing! I see people do this style and they tend to either skip the flattening, which isn’t a big deal, or they use tips that are the same size, which is a bigger deal. If you tips are the same size you can’t really see the under color. Your words get tall and sometimes they fall off the “track” and look sloppy. It kind of looks like your changed mind on color, everything you do on your cake should look like it was done on purpose.
The most important thing you can do is play and practice. Pick up a pencil and just doodle and experiment. Let your hand get use to the motions. Once you’ve built up a little muscle memory you’ll find it much easier to do your fancy writing with a bag of frosting. Try mixing styles and play with colors. Brush up on your writing skills and everyone will be impressed by how you thought out the cake from beginning to end! Happy decorating!
Coborn’s Cake Decorator
Sartell, MN – Pine Cone Road
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