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How to Write on a Cake Like a Pro

How to Write Happy Birthday on a Cake

Happy Birthday, Cooking Channel!

For many happy occasions you’ll want to write a special sentiment on a cake. The problem is not what to say, but how to make it both legible and gorgeous. Everyone has had a good chuckle over the cakes on Cake Wrecks, but we want to avoid having our efforts resemble those mishaps. With a few tricks of the trade and a bit of practice, anyone can write on a cake like a pro.

Equipment and ingredients:

Parchment paper
Parchment paper pastry bag (or plastic disposable pastry bag fitted with a very small round tip)
1/2 cup chocolate, melted
Mayonnaise or smooth mustard for practicing

How to Write Happy Birthday on a Cake

  • If you are unsure of your handwriting or want to do something a bit fancy, I recommend finding an example of what you like and print it out. Cover the sheet of paper with parchment or wax paper, so you can clearly see the lettering beneath it.  You can use mayonnaise or smooth mustard to practice your writing. Use a parchment paper pastry bag or a pastry bag fitted with a very small round piping tip.

How to Write Happy Birthday on a Cake

  • Fill the bag about 1/2 way with the melted chocolate (mayonnaise or mustard for practicing) and snip a very small hole at the end of the bag, if using parchment. The trick is to get a nice clean cut and start very small; you can always make the hole larger if it is too small.

How to Write Happy Birthday on a Cake

  • Trace the letters, trying to get nice smooth lines. This exercise will give you practice writing with a steady hand before attempting it on the cake. Do this several times, until you feel comfortable writing in this style.

How to Write Happy Birthday on a Cake

  • Now you are ready to write on the cake, but before you start with the chocolate, draw the letters on the cake with a skewer. If you don’t get the spacing right on the first attempt it is easy to wipe the surface clean with a cake-decorating spatula. Now you can try it again. This step is particularly helpful when writing long messages like “Happy Graduation, Christopher!”  It can be tricky to fit it all on a small round cake and you may have to curve the words. No problem — when you are sketching it out first, you can try and try again.

Visit my blog for tips on getting a perfectly smooth icing on your cake.

How to Write Happy Birthday on a Cake

  • Once you have the letters in the right place, trace them with the chocolate.

How to Write Happy Birthday on a Cake

And there you go: a perfectly written message on your cake.

More Baked Goods From Zoe:

Zoë François, author of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. She now calls Minneapolis her home, where she has worked with some of the top talent in the culinary world — Steven Brown, Andrew Zimmern and many chefs at the D’Amico company. In addition to writing, Zoë teaches baking classes and consults at restaurants, and she maintains her baking blog, zoebakes.com. Her third book comes out in October, Artisan Pizza and Flatbreads in Five Minutes a Day.

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Comments (1147)

  1. Janet posted 08/15/2011

    I also use chocolate, but I put wax paper on a cookie sheet with the template of what I am writing underneath…copy over it with the chocolate and let it dry….then I just place it on the cake!

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