Once a cake has been frosted, there are several ways to style the icing. Use the tines of a dinner fork to make wave designs in the icing, wiping the fork clean intermittently. Another idea is to use the back of a large dinner spoon to make swirls on the top and sides of the cake. You can also use the tip of a thin metal icing spatula to stipple the top and sides of the cake.
Powdered sugar and cocoa powder can be used singly or in combination to give a frosted cake a polished look. When using stencils of any sort, freeze the cake for 15 minutes before decorating. Powdered sugar will gradually dissolve, so apply this fancy decoration just before serving. Gather six jar lids, varying in size from small to medium. Place the lids facedown on the surface of the cake in a random arrangement, letting some hang over the edge. Dust the cake with cocoa or confectioners’ sugar. Remove the lids, grasping them by the lip and lifting straight up. Rearrange them randomly again, then dust with a contrasting color, using confectioners’ sugar, cocoa, or very finely ground nuts. Remove the lids carefully.
When you want to add your own special touch to freshly frosted cakes or cupcakes, try this easy method. Press a simply shaped cookie cutter into smooth frosting on a cake or cupcake. Using the cookie cutter outline as a guide, fill the shape with sprinkles, colored sugar, or another confection of a contrasting color. Carefully remove the cookie cutter, leaving behind a fanciful decoration.
Like these? See more quick tips at Cook's Illustrated.