Say you’ve got a prodigious little caking buddy, who loves baking and wants to start decorating cakes with you. How much of this material is necessary for, say, a fourth-grader, or a middle-schooler?
Though the answer depends on what their current goals are (fondant or buttercream? Single tier or stacked? Do you already own a good mixer and good standard-sized pans?), here’s a good little list that will give your mini a great starting point with good equipment, without breaking the bank.
- Pans – if you don’t have two 8-inch pans, start here. GET TWO! I prefer 3-inch tall, and Fat Daddio’s and MagicLine are my favorites. Definitely avoid Wilton, or any other pans that taper out as they go up. 9-inch pans are fine, but so much of the caking world is geared toward 6/8/10/12/14-inch cakes, that it’ll be easier to find the right sizes of cake boards and drums if you start with 8-inch pans.
- Turntable – not a necessity, but it makes your life SO MUCH easier. There are some very affordable options, if you’re not looking for top-of-the-Line smoothness for wedding cakes, for example, like this 12″ turntable.
- Small offset spatula
- Bench scraper – for smoothing your icing.
If your kiddo wants to work with fondant, they’ll need these elements:
- Fondant Smoother
- Silicone Fondant Mat – well worth the money, since the plastic thin ones crease very easily when you use/wash/store them, and a crease kills your entire fondant mat forever. I love ateco, and all my mats are ateco, but start with a mat like this one, if you prefer, which hits the right description while you’re deciding if you really want a huge $40 mat.
- Rolling pin – don’t try using your wooden or ivory rolling pin here. Get a large lightweight one that will roll your entire fondant circle in one pass. Wilton works fine here.
- Fondant Tools
- Fondant – For one 8-inch cake, two pounds is plenty. Get more if you want to put on more decorations. Pick any brand. Pick any brand from this list.
- Piping Bags and Couplers – you don’t need tips, and the type of bag isn’t so important if you’re doing fondant. I have silicone ones I just rewash every time, because I only fill with one or maybe two Icing types per cake, I don’t have to worry about having many colors in separate bags. You won’t need tips, but you will need the couplers. This kit has it all, and is the one I use, super easy and cheap.
And finally, whether your kiddo is doing buttercream, ganache, or finishing in fondant, they’re going to want a cake board for each cake they ice (it’s a simple waxed cardboard circle the size of the cake being decorated), and a cake drum to mount it on for serving (because we don’t go through all the trouble of decorating just to put a cake on a dinner plate, when there’s a cheap alternative that shows the cake off beautifully!).
Wilton works fine for either of these. Just make sure the cake circles are waxed, and the cake drums are at least 1/2 inch thick. Buy a cake drum 4 inches bigger than your cake (so a 12-inch drum for an 8-inch cake).
Now, ready to get started? Go to this video in my Caking Tutorials series.
Note about the image: My 8-year-old daughter carved this LEGO Hulk cake for her little brother’s 7th birthday, half a lifetime ago. Having the basic tools makes a huge difference to little hands!