Helpful Hints and Tips for Course 1

Helpful Hints:

Course 1: Building Buttercream Skills Student Resource Center

Laminate the Practice Sheets that came in your Student Kit/Practice Board. This will help keep your practice sheets clean and free from wear and tear.


Check the How to Bake a Great Cake & Troubleshooting Guide for Bakers on page 46 in your course 1 student book.

Obtaining Better Baking Results – A Baking Troubleshooting Guide

If you are using a stand mixer, always use the flat beater and keep your mixer at a low speed while mixing.

The batter from a single scratch recipe or box mix will generally be enough to split between two 8” or 9” pans to make 2” tall layers. If using a different size pan, check the paper insert that came with your pan to see how much batter is needed and always measure the batter.

You can also use the Cake Baking & Servings Guide for batter and icing amounts needed for all sizes of pans along with baking times, temperatures and number of servings for parties or weddings. (This guide can also be found in Wilton publications such as the Wilton Yearbook or Tiered Cakes book.)

Always make sure a cake is completely cooled before icing. It’s a good idea to let your cake rest in an airtight container for a day or even overnight before you ice it.

The diameter of your cake board needs to be at least 2 inches larger than the diameter of your cake (for example, an 8? cake needs a 10? cake board). If you cannot find 10? boards, please feel free to substitute with a 12? instead. If you are baking with a 9” pan, you can use the 10” board or, to give extra room for borders use a 12” board.

Use the grease-resistant Show ‘n Serve cake boards or Wilton Cake Circles to put your cake on. If your board is not grease-resistant, you will need to cover it with Wilton Fanci-Foil to keep the cardboard from turning to mush under the cake. Never use aluminum foil to cover cake circles.

To make a sturdier base, tape together 2-3 plain white cake circles and cover with Fanci-Foil.

Don’t throw out those cake scraps you cut off to level your cake! Freeze them and save them to make Cake Pops! The recipe and ideas can be found in the Wilton Cake Pops book.

Check out the Cake Cutting Guide and Sheet Cake Cutting Guide to help you get the suggested servings out of the cakes you bake.

Icing Making

Always use class buttercream in the correct consistency as noted for each lesson

If using a stand mixer, use a low speed for mixing your icings. Only use the flat beater attachment, not the whisk or the dough hook to mix your icing. It’s OK to double the icing recipe in a stand mixer. Make sure to occasionally stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom to fully incorporate the mix.

Always use pure cane confectioners’ sugar. Other sugars will not act the same as pure cane. You will know your sugar is pure cane when the packaging reads “pure cane”.

Weigh your sugar if your package holds more than you need (i.e. you need only 1 lb. of sugar from a 2 lb. bag).

Also, sift your confectioners’ sugar. If humidity had gotten in and caused the sugar to ball up, those lumps will never go away in the buttercream icing. If they are mixed into the icing, you will have little white dots of sugar in your pretty colored icing, or they may clog your tip when you try to pipe your icing.

Do not overbeat or mix your icing at too high a speed. If you do, it may add air bubbles to the icing and make your icing look dry.

To add creamy texture to your icing, try adding an extra tablespoon or two of shortening.

Always fluff your meringue powder with a fork or the measuring spoon before adding it to your icing. Meringue powder is very fine and will settle and pack down, so you’ll end up wasting it if you don’t fluff it.

For extreme hot/humid conditions, you may want to add an extra tablespoon of meringue powder to help keep your icing from melting off the cake or to keep the icing colors from melting and running.

Using the Wilton clear flavorings will keep your icing white and gives you truer colors when coloring.

Coloring Icing

Always use Wilton Gel Paste Icing colors to color your icing. The grocery store brand liquid food colors will change your icing consistency and won’t color as well.

The Wilton Icing colors are a gel consistency and will need to be added to the icing with a toothpick. Never double-dip your toothpick back into the color after dipping it into the icing.

If your icing color has dried out and is no longer a gel consistency, you can add Wilton Glycerin to restore it. Just pour some glycerine into the icing color bottle and stir with a toothpick.

Make darker colors ahead of time, let sit a few hours to allow the colors to intensify. Add more icing color if necessary.

For brown or black colors, begin with chocolate icing. You won’t need to add as much black color to change from brown to black and it will taste better.

General Class Tips

To help keep icing out of your drain/garbage disposal, scrape as much of it out of your tips, couplers, and (featherweight) bags as possible. You can use a toothpick to help clean out the tips and couplers. Turn the featherweight bags inside out and scrape the icing off with a spatula.

If washing tools by hand, use warm soapy water to clean everything.

Never use vinegar or soak your tips, it will ruin the finish on the tips.

The icing tips are dishwasher safe. To keep from losing them in the dishwasher, you can use the Wilton Dishwasher Tip Tray or put them in a small mesh lingerie bag.

If you want to reuse your bags, the Wilton Featherweight bags are a nice alternative to disposable bags. The featherweight bags are dishwasher safe.

Remember, practicing at home reinforces what you learn in class and makes YOU a better decorator!

Check out for more cake ideas using the decorating techniques learned in Course 1!


I want all my students to have the best Wilton class experience possible, and your feedback is welcome! If there’s anything you would like to tell me about this class – what you liked, anything you didn’t like, something you would like to see added to future classes, something you think I should add to my website that would be helpful, anything you want me to pass along to Wilton – please email me, mention this class (Course 1) and your feedback.

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