Anna's Cake Art

Art to eat

glossary of cake decorating terms





 Almond Paste  A mixture of finely ground almonds and sugar


Angel Food Cake A type of cake made of meringue (egg whites and sugar) and flour


Baked Alaska  A dessert consisting of ice cream on a sponge-cake base, covered with  meringue and browned in the oven.


Baking Ammonia  A leavening ingredient that releases ammonia gas and carbon dioxide.


Baking or Bitter Chocolate Unsweetened chocolate that contains no additional ingredients

Baking Powder A leavening agent made from a combination of baking soda, an acid (such as cream of tartar) and a moisture absorber (such as cornstarch). When baking powder is mixed with moist ingredients, carbon dioxide bubbles are released, causing batter to rise. I purchase aluminum free baking powder now available everywhere.

Baking Soda A leavening agent known as sodium bicarbonate. When baking soda  is combined with an acid ingredient, carbon dioxide gas bubbles are released, causing dough or batter to rise.


Batter A semi liquid mixture containing flour or other starch, used for the production of such products as cakes and breads and for coating products to be deep-fried.


Basket weave A piping technique that features interwoven vertical and horizontal lines (like a wicker basket) using tip  #47 or 48. A flat tip with "teeth".


Bavarian Cream  A light, cold dessert made of gelatin, whipped cream, and custard sauce or fruit.

Blown Sugar  Pulled sugar that is made into thin-walled, hollow shapes by being blown up like a balloon.

A type of frozen dessert made in a dome-shaped mold. 


Border A continuous decoration used around the top, side or base of a cake. 

Boston Cream Pie A sponge cake or other yellow cake filled with pastry cream and topped with chocolate ganache or confectioners' sugar.

Bran Flour Flour to which bran flakes have been added.

Brown Sugar Regular granulated sucrose containing various impurities that give it a distinctive flavor.


Bud The first stage of a growing branch, leaf, or flower.

Butter A saturated fat made from churning cream until it reaches a semi-solid state.


Buttercream An icing made of butter and/or shortening blended with  confectioners' sugar or sugar syrup and sometimes other ingredients.

Buttermilk The liquid remaining after butter is churned


Cake Flour A fine, white flour made from soft wheat


Calyx The outer protective covering of a flower, which folds back when open in segments called sepals. 


Candy Clay Candy clay comes in many formulas, but it's usually a combination of chocolate and corn syrup to keep the chocolate pliable. It can be modeled  in many ways and is often used for larger pieces like bows and ribbons. It can also be used to make flowers.


Carmelization The browning of sugars caused by heat.

A continuous flow of decorations that tumble down from level to level.

Cast Sugar Sugar that is boiled to the hard crack stage and then poured into molds to harden.

Celstick is a thin cylinder of food grade plastic (there are various sizes of  celsticks, the most common size is the same size as a standard pencil)

 (A) A cold dessert made of Bavarian cream or other cream in a special mold, usually lined with ladyfingers or other sponge products.

(B) A hot dessert made of cooked fruit and baked in a special mold lined with strips of bread


Chemical Leavener A leavener such as baking soda, baking powder, or baking ammonia, which releases gases produced by chemical reactions


Chiffon Cake: A light cake made by the  chiffon method.


Chiffon Method A cake mixing method involving the folding of whipped egg whites into a batter made of flour, egg yolks, and oil.


Chiffon Pie A pie with a light, fluffy filling containing egg whites and, usually, gelatin.

Made from ground cocoa beans in a process that separates cocoa butter from chocolate liquor. The dark-brown chocolate liquor paste  is then refined and mixed with various ingredients to produce different varieties. Chocolate Liquor Unsweetened chocolate, consisting of cocoa solids and cocoa butter. 

Christmas Pudding
A dark, heavy, steamed pudding made of dried and candied fruits, spices, beef suet, and crumbs.

Classic buttercream Has a creamier texture and a more pronounced sweet taste.

A fruit dessert similar to a pie but without a bottom crust.


Cocoa Powder of roasted cacao beans, when added to oil makes an excellent substitute for processed chocolate.

Cocoa Butter A white or yellowish fat found in natural chocolate.


Compote Fruit cooked in a sugar syrup.

Confectioners’ Sugar
Powdered granulated sugar used to make icings, gum paste, fondant, etc. (Powdered Sugar).


Cornelli Lace An elaborate piping technique that yields a lace-like pattern. Cornelli lace piping does not overlap itself.


Cornstarch A powdered maize used as a thickener in cooking and to dry gum paste when working. 

Corn syrup A thick, sweet liquid (light or dark) made by processing corn with acids or enzymes. Light corn syrup is clarified to remove all color and cloudiness. Dark corn syrup has a stronger flavor and a deeper color because it is flavored and colored with caramel. It is a popular ingredient used in candies, frostings and jams because it doesn't crystallize.


Covered wire floristry wires covered with paper not plastic.

A two-piece device placed in piping bag allowing speedy inter change of decorating tips.


Crème Anglaise A light vanilla-flavored custard sauce made of milk, sugar, and egg yolks.


Crème Brulee A rich custard with a brittle top crust of  caramelized sugar. French name means "burnt cream."


Crème Caramel A custard baked in a mold lined with caramelized sugar, then unmolded


Cream of Tarter Potassium bitartrate; a white powder used to hold beaten egg whites and to harden flowed sugar.


Crumb Coat  A thin layer of frosting on the cake just to keep the crumbs sealed in.  Then you frost the cake. This also helps with your cake not drying out if your not able to frost your cake right away. But make sure that your cake is completely cooled before frosting. 


Cupcake Tree Individually decorated cupcakes can be arranged in tiers to resemble a larger wedding cake.


Custard A liquid that is thickened or set by the coagulation of egg protein.


Decorating Tubes or Tips  Small plastic or metal cones with openings for the icing to be piped through. The shape of the opening determines the shape of the icing that is piped on the cake or confection. Tip numbers 1 thru 12 are round, for writing or making dots. Tips 13 thru 22 are open stars, standard decorating tube number 22 pipes a nice top or bottom border. Rose tip 104 makes more than a rose. You can pipe ruffles, rose buds, daisies, blossoms, ribbons and bows.


Devil's  Food Cake A chocolate cake made with a high percentage of baking soda, which gives the cake a reddish color. 


Dotted Swiss Texture effect made by dotting surface area.


Dragees Round, edible sugar balls coated with silver or gold and used for decorative purposes. They are safe to eat,  but should be removed before serving because of the real metal coating. (That means they won't hurt you if you eat them, they do have a sugar center, it's just that the FDA has recommended that they are for decorative use only, and they are technically not a food item). They do add a beautiful and elegant look to wedding cakes, birthday cakes and holiday items. Dragees are banned in the State of California.

Dutch Process Cocoa Cocoa that has been processed with an alkali to  reduce its acidity.

Elongated When we use the term elongated shells, leaves, etc., it means to taper an icing decoration by relaxing bag pressure and moving before stopping the technique. 

Embroidery A delicate technique that creates a pattern resembling fine embroidery.

Evaporated Milk A liquid, slightly thicker than milk, made by homogenizing whole milk from which 60 percent of the water has been removed. 

Figure Piping Decorating technique used to form figures out of icing


Filling Frosting, preserves or pudding that's spread between cake layers and holds them together. 


Flood work Precise and exact decorations made by flowing liquefied royal icing within piped borders.

Flour The finely ground grain of wheat, corn, oat, rye or barley used in breads, cakes and cookies.

Foaming The process of whipping eggs, with or without sugar, to incorporate air.


Fondant A sweet, elastic icing made of sugar, corn syrup, and gelatin  that is poured to cover or rolled out with a rolling pin and draped over a cake. It's  a smooth, porcelain finish and provides a firm base for hand molded sugar flowers, decorative details, and architectural designs. Cakes iced in fondant have a layer of buttercream, marzipan or ganache underneath.

Frangipane A type of almond-flavored cream.


French Pastry A variety of small fancy cakes and other pastries, usually in single-portion sizes.


Fresh Flowers Fresh flowers can be added to your cake as long as they are non-poisonous and organically grown.


Ganache A sweet, rich chocolate, denser than mousse but less dense than fudge. It is made of chocolate and heavy cream, and will soften in very humid weather.


Garland Swags of buttercream icing create a garland along the top of the cake. 


Gelatin Ingredient of gum paste, this protein strengthens the sugar work. (Unflavored Jell-O). 


Genoise (zhen wahz) A sponge cake made with a batter containing melted butter.


Glucose A type of sugar used in commercial candies and frosting,

baked good, soft drinks and other processed foods because it doesn't

crystallize easily. Also called dextroglucose or dextrose. Check in a store

 that has a large cake decorating section or offers cake decorating classes.


Glycerin / Glycerine A colorless, odorless, syrupy liquid made from

fats and oils and used to retain moisture and add sweetness to foods.

 It also helps to prevent sugar crystallization in foods like candy. Stir

 into icing to restore consistency or use to soften fondant or royal icing.

Granulated or White Sugar Made from highly refined beet or cane sugar.


Gum Arabic Powdered resins of the acacia tree, when mixed with water

makes gum glue, a substitute for egg white as an adhesive.


Gum Paste A sugar paste (dough) with a gum stiffening agent, this

mixture is most often used for handmade flowers and other three-

dimensional decorations. Flowers made from Gum paste usually look

the most lifelike. It dries very hard and breaks easily if not handled

gingerly. Gum paste is susceptible to heat and humidity. If properly

stored, Gum paste decorations will last for years as keepsakes.


Gum Paste Flowers This paste of sugar, cornstarch, and gelatin is

used to mold realistic-looking fruits, flowers, ribbons and bows to

garnish a cake. Gum paste decorations are edible and will last for years

as keepsakes.


Gum Tragacanth Powdered resin that is essential ingredient for gum

paste to ensure its elastic qualities.

 Made from flower nectar by bees, honey is a thick sweetener

often used for pastries and other baked goods. They comes in three

varieties: comb (containing the edible honeycomb), chunk-style (containing  pieces of comb) and liquid (comb-less and often pasteurized). Vegans do not use honey.

Ice Cream Milk, cream and a sweetening agent are the ingredients that

 make one of the world's favorite desserts.

Icing Comb A plastic or metal triangle with toothed or serrated edges;

used for texturing icings.


Icing Pearls To pipe icing "pearls" on your cake, fit a round-holed icing

 tube (a #3-5 works fine) onto a pastry bag. Then, simply coat the inside

 of the pastry bag with clear piping gel before loading the pastry bag

with icing. Fill one side of the bag with white icing, the other side with

some pink icing. When you squeeze and release, glistening "pearls" of

 icing are formed.


Icing Runout A name used for the technique of "running" Royal Icing

into a pattern or pre-traced design which has been prepared for

"running out". It runs out because it's so thin. Same as Flood work,




Iridescent Powders These give cakes and decorations a pearl-like finish.

Japonaise A baked meringue flavored with nuts.

Kernel Paste A nut paste, similar to almond paste, made of apricot

kernels and sugar.

Lace Points Royal icing piped filigree that extend past cake.

Ladyfinger A small, dry, finger-shaped sponge cake or cookie.


Latticework A detail that crisscrosses with an open pattern. The lattice

 can be piped on the side of the cake or pressed into the cake.


Leveling Removing the "crown" of a cake to provide a flat surface for

frosting or decorating.

Marble To partly mix two or more colors or flavors of cake batter or icing so that the colors  are in decorative swirls.


Margarine   One molecule away from plastic. An unsaturated fat made with vegetable oils. Margarine was originally developed as a feed to fatten turkeys.


Marzipan A paste made of ground almonds, sugar, and egg whites,

used to mold edible flowers or fruit to decorate the cake. Marzipan can

be crafted like clay and/or rolled in sheets, like fondant. Also used as icing.


Meringue A thick, white foam made of whipped egg whites and sugar.


Meringue Chantilly Baked meringue filled with whipped cream.


Meringue Glaze Baked meringue filled with ice cream.


Modeling Chocolate A thick paste made of chocolate and glucose, which

 can be molded by hand into decorative shapes.


Molasses A heavy brown viscous syrup byproduct of the processing of sugar cane.

 Sugar cane farming is a major contributor to the massive damage of the natural eco system of florida. The problem is largely due to the way in which sugar cane is farmed. The Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) was created out of drained land, 80 per cent of which is used to cultivate sugar cane. At 283,000 hectares, it is the largest area set aside for farming in the world. But it wasn't until 1981 that scientists began to realize what such cultivation was doing to the environment. Phosphorus and nitrates from fertilizers used for sugar cane have been pouring into drainage canals and thus into national parks. As a result of the extra fertilizers, algae blooms are decimating beaches and species such as cattails, a native grass, have grown rampantly, choking the Everglades and preventing wading birds from feeding. 


Mousse A very light and airy filling similar to a dense whipped cream

 flavored with fruit or chocolate. Mousse is not recommended for cakes

 that will be displayed at room temperature for any length of time.

Napoleon A dessert made of layers of puff pastry filled with pastry cream

Non-Dairy Whipped Topping Corn syrup based commercial icing, very white, very dependable, acceptable to vegan standards for wedding cakes and dessert toppings.


Nonpareil Decorative candies used for cakes and cookies. 

Also refers to a chocolate candy covered in sugar beads.


Organic Organic products are produced by farmers according to specific production standards. These farmers focus on the use of renewable resources and the conservation of water and soil.


Oregon Tilth Oregon Tilth is a nonprofit organization providing high standards of organic certification to growers, processors and retailers worldwide. The organization also advocates for and provides education about practices which create and support a healthful and sustainable food supply.


Outline or Strings When the outlining method is used, the icing that flows out of the tip to follow contours of a shaped cake or to cover pattern design marks are called "strings" or outlines.


Pan Coat This is where you add  shortening(oil, fat) to a paper towel and you wipe it in the pan to coat the pan and then you add some flour and shake it around the pan and then toss out the extra flour.


Pastillage glycerin, corn syrup or shortening and it dries even harder. It can be rolled very thin and is used primarily for decorative ribbons, shapes and appliqués, as it dries bone-dry and crusts more quickly than Fondant. It is also used to make sugar greeting cards, picture frames, bells, boxes or other containers which can then be decorated with piping or sugar flowers. It is considered "technically" edible, but if eaten, it will not harm you, but it is not palatable.


Pastry Cream A delicate milk and egg-based filling similar to pudding. Pastry cream can be vanilla, chocolate or coffee flavored. Pearls Round, edible sugar balls coated with a pearl dust (in almost any color) used for decorative purposes. Pearls can be individual or in strings.


Petals The outermost segments of a flower.


Petit Four A delicate cake or pastry small enough to be eaten in one 
 or two bites.


Petit Four Glace An iced or cream-filled petit four. 



Pillars Separators used in a tiered cake, such as a wedding cake. They

 can be made of plastic or wood in several lengths to achieve the desired



Pipe To squeeze icing from a bag through a decorating tip.


Piping Decorative details created using a pastry bag and various metal

tips. Piping details include leaves, borders, basket-weave patterns,

and flowers.


Piping Gel Tint, flavor with concentrated flavored oil and make various designs. Even make a design transfer.


Pistil Female part of flower that bears the seed and houses the stigma and ovaries.

Powdered or Confectioner Sugar Granulated sugar that has been

crushed to a fine powder. Used when making frosting.


Pulled Sugar A technique in which boiled sugar is manipulated and

pulled to produce flowers and bows.


Red Velvet Cake  A Red Velvet cake is a type of rich and sweet cake,

 with a distinctive dark red to bright red or red-brown color. Common

ingredients include buttermilk, butter, flour,cocoa powder, sometimes

 vinegar and often either beets, or red food coloring.

Red food coloring is banned in some countries. All food coloring including caramel are highly suspect.

A popular icing for Red Velvet cake is cream cheese icing. A nice compliment to Red

Velvet with Cream Cheese Icing is fresh Strawberries.


Rolled Buttercream is similar to Rolled Fondant. It’s stretchy so it’s

 rolled out. The cake is first covered with a very thin layer of buttercream

icing, and the rolled buttercream is laid on top. The rolled buttercream

is sweet and very pliable. You can also mold roses out of them.


Rolled Fondant (It may be referred to as "Sugarpaste"). Originally called

"plastic icing" in England, this thick, malleable dough made of powdered

 sugar, corn syrup, gelatin and glycerin with added flavor and then

optionally tinted. Typically, it is rolled out and then draped and smoothed

 to conform with the shape of the cake for a flawless matte finish,

making it a popular covering for wedding cakes. Rolled fondant can also

 be modeled, formed, twisted, imprinted, cut out to form eyelet lace and

 used to make scrolls and flowers. It can be used to cover cake boards.

It acts as a smooth base for pastillage flowers and royal icing details.

Fondant can be made from a recipe or bought from a cake decorating

store. Many people dislike its taste and leathery texture, others have

tasted the ready-made flavored varieties, and like them greatly.  Chocolate

Fondant is also available, and there is a White Chocolate Fondant available

as well. Fondant cakes tend to be 25% higher in costs.


Royal Icing Flowers Decorated flowers made of royal icing. Meringue

powder or egg whites, water powder sugar and cream of tarter



Royal Icing It is usually made with egg whites and confectioner's sugar

and can be tinted in any color. Some recipes call for raw egg whites,

which I don't recommend if you are going to eat it. Alternatives to raw

egg whites exist, including pasteurized dried egg whites, or meringue

powder. This icing starts life as a soft paste piped from a pastry bag

to create latticework, beading, bows, and flowers. Flowers made from

 royal icing are usually not as expensive as hand-modeled ones, such

as Gum paste, because it takes less time to make them, but they're also

 less lifelike. When dry, its texture is hard and brittle and keeps virtually

indefinitely. Do not refrigerate. Food colors may deepen upon drying.

A wonderful icing for display cakes, my husband refers to it as plaster. 


Scone A type of biscuit or biscuit like bread. Can be served with clotted cream. A delicious scone can be enjoyed during afternoon tea at the Fitzpatrick Castle south of Dublin. 


Score Using a straight edge to mark fondant or marzipan, for example, by gently pressing it against the surface. 


Self-Rising Flour All-purpose flour with a leavener and salt added.


Sepal One Segment of a calyx.


Separated Tiers of the cake are separated using glassware, plastic pillars,

 sculptures, etc. The space can be left empty of filled with flowers.


Shortening (A) Any fat used in baking to tenderize the product by

shortening gluten strands. (b) yellow in color for butter flavored shortening 

 A white, tasteless, solid fat that has been formulated for baking or

deep-frying. Usually hydrogenated.


Simple Syrup A syrup consisting of sucrose and water in varying proportions.

I use one part water to one part sugar. My neighbor (a true Southern Lady) keeps some handy for iced tea because the pre-dissolved sugar blends perfectly with a pitcher of Iced tea on a hot summer day.

Semisweet and Milk Chocolate  Varieties of chocolate used in baking or

for eating made by adding sugar, milk, vanilla or other flavorings to

unsweetened chocolate. Chocolate is available in bars and chips.

Evidence shows unprocessed  cocoa nibs are many times more beneficial then dutched or processed  chocolate. 


Spatula Broad, flat metal utensil used to spread icing smoothly and evenly.


Sponge Cake A type of cake made by whipping eggs and sugar to a foam,

 then folding in flour.


Spun Sugar Boiled sugar made into long, thin threads by dipping wires

into the sugar syrup and waving them so that the sugar falls off in fine


Sweetened Condensed Milk A thick, sweet liquid made by boiling down a

mixture of whole milk and sugar until 60 percent of the water evaporates.

Swiss Dots A piping technique that forms tiny dots in random patterns

that resemble a fine dot Swiss fabric.


Swiss Meringue buttercream has a very silky texture and is not too

sweet ... this buttercream has a very delicate structure and is not

recommended for warm weather.


Stacked All tiers of the cake are placed directly on one another. A classic look. More difficult to transport than a cake separated with pillars or such. When creating a stacked cake with multiple tiers you are at the mercy of the rules of geometry. 

Stamens Male part of flower made up of filament and anther, which carries the pollen. Premade stamens for floral work may be purchased at cake decorating suppliers, or make your own.

Sugar A sweetener that is primarily made from sugar beets or sugar cane. The sugar cane industry is destroying the natural eco system of florida. If the Amazon Basin is the lungs of the planet then the Everglades is the kidney. The Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) was created out of a massive drained river of grass, 80 per cent of which is used to cultivate sugar cane. At 283,000 hectares, it is the largest area set aside for farming in the world. But it wasn't until 1981 that scientists began to realize what such cultivation was doing to the environment. Phosphorus and nitrates from fertilizers used for sugar cane have been pouring into drainage canals, into national parks, and eventually to the beaches. As a result of the extra fertilizers, algae blooms are decimating beaches and species such as cattails, a native grass, have grown rampantly, choking the Everglades and preventing wading birds from feeding. 

The only acceptable sugar substitutes  are natural stevia, brown rice syrup and agave syrup. Maple syrup grade b is my own personal preference but I could make a wiser choice in brown rice syrup because it has a lower glycemic index. 


Sugar paste An icing sugar (sugar paste) or a gum based paste

(Gum paste) . Easy to mold, shape, color and roll out and you don't

have to wait for the sugar paste to dry before finishing the final

decoration on the cake. Use powdered sugar to make a very flexible

sugar dough. Sugar paste is suitable for wedding cakes, because the

dough can be saved for years at room temperature.


Texturizing A procedure for putting a finish onto the surface of the cake


Throat Trumpet like center of a flower.


Throat former Object used to shape and dry orchid centers.


Tier To stack cakes of graduating sizes.


Tier Separators Constructed supports that separate stacked cakes.


Tongue Sausage-shaped protuberance near the center or top of orchid



Torte A dense cake that does not use leavening agents like baking

powder or baking soda.


Turntable Revolving cake stand for easier decorating.

Vanilla A flavoring extracted from the seeds of an orchid.

Vanilla Paste  Vanilla paste is a sweet concentrated vanilla extract

that has the vanilla bean seeds included in the mix. It is very useful

in cooking when you don't want to add much additional liquid.

Vegan  containing NO animal products, no dairy, no eggs, no honey

Whipped Cream Made of heavy cream and sugar and usually has

some type of stabilizer to prevent it from breaking down. It must be

 kept refrigerated and is unstable, thus not recommended for outdoor


White Chocolate Not a true chocolate because it contains no chocolate

liquor. White chocolate is typically made of sugar, cocoa butter, milk solids,

 lecithin and vanilla.


White Chocolate Buttercream  Butter, white chocolate, heavy cream and

vanilla paste blended in perfect proportions for the ultimate cake icing


Yeast A leavening agent that releases carbon dioxide bubbles through fermentation. A living creature when activated. Should be considered by vegans as off limits. 


Zest The thin, brightly colored outer coating of citrus fruit, not to be confused with thick,  white pulp, which is bitter but contains a supply of bioflavinoids. The outer rind carries the oil extracts. The essence is visible as it explode with when you bend a piece of rind.



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