The Toothpick Trick For Writing Messages On Cake With Ease

Many people grew up hearing the mantra, "You can do anything you set your mind to." But if adulthood teaches you anything, it's that "anything you set your mind to" is easier said than done. Take cake decorating, for example. Sure, most home bakers probably don't expect to make Buddy Valastro-level masterpieces right off the bat, but a flawless frosting finish and a few flowers shouldn't be that hard, right? Wrong. Even decorating a cake with a simple message like "Congratulations!" or "Happy Birthday!" can prove far more difficult than the pros make it seem. Fortunately, the help of a common kitchen tool can set you on your path to excellence.

A toothpick is all you need to write messages on cakes with ease. After all, the dining staple already has plenty of other uses in the kitchen, like making swirl patterns on cheesecake and testing baked goods for doneness. After your confection is fully frosted, just use a toothpick to lightly etch your message in the icing, making sure not to puncture the cake underneath. Then, if you're satisfied with how your writing looks, take your bag of frosting or melted chocolate and pipe away, using your sketch as a guide. If you don't like how your toothpick etching turned out, you can easily smooth it out and try again.

Practice makes perfect

Free-handing messages on cakes is a pretty impressive decorating skill regardless of your baking experience level, but until you've mastered it, the toothpick trick can help you achieve a supermarket-level "Happy Birthday!" on your dessert. Even with a guide, though, you may want to practice piping letters off-cake a few times before committing to the real thing.

Instead of making an entirely separate confection to practice on, do a few trial runs on a plate or piece of parchment paper to familiarize yourself with piped writing. This can also help you choose between a print or cursive script, though the latter is often easier since all of the letters are connected. Whichever you choose, pipe with your dominant hand while using your other hand to steady the bag, making sure to lift the bag straight up at the end of each word or letter. Avoid overfilling the pastry bag, too, as this can cause the frosting to spill out of the top while you're writing.

Once you're ready for the real thing, you can scrape the frosting off of your practice surface with a spoon and drop it right back into the piping bag. You can also try filling your piping bag with a condiment like yellow mustard if you just want to practice in your spare time.