Baking A Cake? Here Are All The Common Cake Terms You Need To Know To Decipher Your Next Cake Recipe

June 01, 2020

common cake baking terms

Baking a cake is fun, but sometimes the recipe you’re using might be loaded with baking terms you’ve never heard before. 

Making wrong guesses might result in baking disasters, and skipping steps or instructions is not something we recommend. 

So, to help you decipher your cake recipes, here’s an A to Z list of all the common cake baking and cake decorating terms that’ll help you ace your next cake.

Baking something else instead? See our Ultimate A-Z Glossary of Baking Terms.

Airbrushing

 

A cake colouring technique performed using a small air pump that sprays edible food colouring onto the cake surface. Often used to create ombré colour patterns.

Baking Pan

 

Any kind of pan used to bake cakes, cookies, or other types of baked goods. Mostly made from stainless steel or aluminium.

Baking Powder

A leavening agent that consists of baking soda and citric or tartaric acid. It helps cakes rise.

Basketweave

A crosshatch pattern made on a cake using fondant or buttercream, making the cake resemble an actual basket.

Beating

Whipping or stirring liquid ingredients using a whisk, electric mixer, or spoon to make it smoother or increase in volume.

Buttercream

 A popular cake icing made by creaming together fats (butter or shortening) and powdered sugar. It can be coloured, flavoured, and adjusted to your desired consistency.

Cake Board/Cake Circles

 A base for cakes, usually made from cardboard or plastic that are available in various sizes and shapes. It is recommended to use one that is closest to the size of your cake. It can be decorated to suit the cake’s theme.

Cake Flour

The type of flour best suited for making cakes. It has lower protein content than other types of flour, allowing for tender cakes. Silky and fine in texture.

Cake Stands

A stool-like object used to display cakes or other types of pastries. It can be plain or decorated, and made from various materials such as porcelain, wood, and metal.

Cake Topper

Decorations placed on the top of a cake.

Chevron

Refers to a pattern that is created by repetitive “V” shapes to form zig-zag lines. Can be used to decorate cakes using fondant and icing. 

Combine

Mixing ingredients well to ensure that everything is distributed evenly in the cake batter.

Cooling Rack

Also known as a wire rack, which can be used to cool cakes and other baked goods. Consists of thick wires that form a rectangular grid, with “legs” to create space between the cake and the countertop. The holes in the grids and space prevents your cakes from getting soggy.

Cornelli Lace

A pattern that resembles laces, usually created by piping royal icing using a small, round piping tip.

Creaming

Mixing fats (butter, shortening, or margarine) and sugar using a mixer or beater until the mixture appears creamy. An essential step in making cakes since it incorporates air into the batter, making the cake light and fluffy.

Dragees

Small balls made of sugar covered in a hard shell, mostly gold, silver, or multi-coloured. Size ranges from 3 to 4 millimeters in diameter.

Dust

Coating the baking pan with a light layer of flour, cocoa powder, or other dry ingredients in order to prevent your cakes from sticking to your pan. Can also refer to the action of coating your cakes lightly with icing sugar or cocoa powder.

Edible Image

Pictures printed using edible ink and frosting paper. The paper can either be made from icing or potato/rice starch. Virtually any kind of image can be made into an edible image.

Fondant

Solid, pliable cake icing that resembles modeling clay. Made from sugar, gelatin, and corn syrup. It’s sweet and can be easily coloured according to one’s needs. Usually rolled out to cover a cake’s surface, or sculpted into various shapes to make edible cake decoration.

Ganache

Chocolate mixture made from mixing heated heavy cream and chocolate of choice (usually dark or milk). The consistency can be adjusted depending on what’s needed for your recipe – thin and runny for coatings, or firmer for fillings. It requires refrigeration to prevent it from melting.

Gold Leaf

Edible 24-carat thin sheets of gold used to add sparkle to cakes, baked goods, and a wide range of food. Gold will pass through the digestive system without being absorbed by the body, so gold leaves are completely safe to eat. Choose higher quality ones to ensure safety.

Gum Paste

Similar to fondant in terms of pliability, but turns very hard when dried and is usually unsweetened. Mostly used for decorative purposes, such as creating sugar flowers. It is also suitable for creating intricate details and can be rolled ultra-thin if needed.

Hand-painted

Manually adding decorations, patterns, or intricate details using paintbrushes and food colouring. Similar to painting on a canvas, but with food-grade ingredients.

Marble

Swirling two or more colours or flavours to create a visual effect. Commonly used to create beautiful marbled cake interiors with multiple batters, making colour combinations on fondant, and more.

Marzipan

A sweet paste that consists of almond meal, egg whites, and sweetener (honey or sugar). Usually sculpted or molded into figures for cake decoration, or rolled into thin sheets to cover cakes.

Ombré

A type of cake colour combination where the colours blend into each other, and graduate from dark to light, or vice versa. An ombré design can be created on a cake’s frosting using an airbrush, or in the cake layers themselves by using cake batters of different colours.

Parchment Round/Baking Paper

Non-stick paper made from cellulose. It is used to line your baking and cake pans before any cake batter is poured in. Helps to prevent the side of your cakes from sticking to the pan, and makes it easier for cake removal. 

Pearls

Round, shiny, hard cake decoration made from sugar designed to mimic actual pearls. They come in different sizes and colours and taste like candies.

Petal Dust

Edible glitter-like powder that is used to add sparkles to a cake.

Pillars

Plastic or wood tubes used to separate parts of a tiered cake. Available in various lengths and designs to achieve the desired appearance.

Piping

 A technique commonly used to make patterns, letters, and swirls using a triangular plastic bag and a metal tip. Piping nozzles are available in various shapes; each of these shapes will result in different designs. Swirled cupcake toppings are often made using this technique.

Pulled Sugar

A type of confectionery commonly sculpted into ribbons, bows, and flowers because of its thin, satin-like appearance. Made by melting sugar, then “pulling” them quickly to produce the desired shapes.

Royal Icing

Mostly used to decorate cookies. Made from powdered sugar, water, and meringue powder or egg white. Pipes smooth, dries to a candy-like consistency, and holds its shape well.

Ruffles

A design made with fondant, resembling actual fabric ruffles.

Side Decoration

Decorations made with icing or fondant on the sides of a cake, usually in the shape of strings or garlands.

Self-Rising Flour

Also referred to as self-raising flour. Flour that has been mixed with baking powder and salt, so there’s no need to add more of these ingredients in your recipe. It’s usually a mixture of 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1.5 teaspoons baking powder, and half a teaspoon of salt. 

Sugar Flowers

Edible flower sculptures made from gum paste or sugar syrup. Ready-made sugar flowers are available in baking supply stores, and they can be directly used to decorate cakes.

Whipped Cream

Made by whipping heavy cream and sugar until the desired consistency is reached (soft, firm, or stiff peaks). Can be used as a topping or filling, and must be refrigerated until you’re ready to use it. Learn how to properly make whipped cream here.

Got any other terms that we should include? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

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Read more: 4 Things To Take Note If You Want To Bake A Better Cake



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The Bakestarters blog features tips and lessons to baking in Singapore, along with useful tips when using our signature baking kits.

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