What's the difference between buttercream and fondant and ganache? Petal dust? Getting started with baking can be tough when you don't understand all the baking lingo so here's 42 common cake icings, cake decorating and cake accessory terms.

Cake Icings


Smooth and creamy decorator icing (referred to as frosting). It can be made in different consistencies – firm for flower decor, medium for borders and thin for icing or writing letters and words on cakes. It is easily colored or flavored. It melts in extreme heat and is not recommended for hot venues.


A type of icing made of corn syrup, sugar and gelatin. It comes in many different colors, has a sweet flavor and is smooth and stiff. It can be rolled out and spread over cakes. Most cakes have a layer of buttercream or ganache underneath the fondant to keep it pliable. Fondant can also be used for sculpted decorations or patterns on cakes. It looks best decorated with marzipan fruits, ribbon or gum paste flowers. It does not need refrigeration.

Royal Icing

Typically a mixture of meringue powder, powdered sugar, & water. It is shiny, hard and does not need to be refrigerated. It is used for latticework and decorations.


A type of chocolate with a consistency similar to store bought icing. Very rich, it is created when hot cream is poured over sweet chocolate, which is then beaten until glossy and smooth. It can be poured over cakes for a glass-like finish or used as filling. It is not suitable for hot or humid weather.

Whipped Cream

Made from sugar and heavy cream and whipped to the desired consistency. Whipped cream can be a topping or a filling, but must be kept refrigerated and brought out right before the cake cutting.


A paste made of almonds, sugar and egg whites. It can be used as icing or molded into decorations including flowers or fruits.

Cake Decorations

Gum Paste

Created with gelatin, cornstarch and sugar. It is used for sculpted figurines or decor on cakes. It is edible, but becomes very hard when dried.


A decorative technique achieved by using a decorator bag and metal tip. Patterns, swirls, lettering and other decor can be ‘piped’ onto cakes. It is ideal for dots, basketweave, latticework and shells.

Pulled Sugar

Boiled sugar, water and corn syrup that is molded into designs including roses and bows.


Hard sugar balls painted with silver or gold paint.

Floral Wire

Non-edible decorative wire used to make 3-D decor on cakes.

Gold Leaf

Edible 24 carat gold decoration used as decorative element on cakes.

Edible Images

Using edible ink and edible frosting paper, any type of image can be imprinted on cakes.


An edible decoration for cakes that are made to look like real pearls. They are available in different colors, sizes and taste like hard candy.

Sugar Flowers

Used in the place of fresh flowers, usually hand created from a sugar syrup that hardens.

Cake Decorative Techniques


Using a small air pump to spray food coloring onto the cake.


Pattern made on cakes in a crosshatch pattern giving the cake the appearance of an actual basket. This can be achieved with fondant or buttercream.


A pattern involving different colored ‘V’ shapes in repetition, usually created on cakes with fondant.


A pattern for cakes commonly found on silk textiles. They are usually botanical patterns but can be geometric or animals.


A delicate design that’s created by using an elaborate piping technique to produce a lacelike pattern.


A decorative technique used on cakes and desserts involving food coloring and paint brushes. The patterns are painted by hand onto the cake to add fine details with brush strokes.

Houndstooth (dogstooth or dogtooth)

A pattern characterized by a series of broken check marks or four-pointed shapes.


When flavors or colors are “swirled” together to create a “swimming” effect. Often used in cake interiors or with fondant.


When tones of color blend into each other, usually graduating from light to dark.


A pattern created using four leaves or lobes, resembling a four-leafed clover or a flower.


A design style on cakes made to look like real ruffles using fondant.

Swiss Dots

A pattern created by piping on small, “pearl” dots. Designed to resemble the Swiss dot pattern commonly found on bridal gowns or veils.

Petal dust

Adds sparkle or sheen to a cake.

Cake Accessories

Cake Board

A cardboard piece available in various shapes and sizes and used as a base for cakes. Not edible but can be covered in edible decorations.

Cupcake Stand/ Cupcake Tower

Sometimes used as an alternative to cakes, a cupcake stand or tree features cupcakes on tiered layers. They can be rented for events in different sizes and hold varying amounts of cupcakes.


Separators used in a tiered cake. They can be made of plastic or wood in several lengths to achieve the desired look.


Fabric or paper background that is either draped or hung smoothly and used to highlight a wedding cake setting for taking professional pictures.

Cake Circle

Corrugated cardboard rounds sized to provide bases for standard circular cakes. They can be purchased, waxed, unwaxed, patterned or with ruffles.

Side Decoration

Icing decorations used around the sides of a cake such as strings or garland.

Tier Separators

Constructed supports that separate stacked cakes.

Cake Stand

A plate on a pedestal used for displaying cakes.

Wedding Cake Fountain

Independent water fountain of various levels, some are lighted. Usually placed within the levels of a cake.

Cake Topper

Ornaments on the top of the wedding cake.

Wedding Cake Bridges/Stairs

Ornamental bridges or stairs that connect layers of wedding cake or separate cakes.

Alternative Cakes


Individually decorated wedding cakes served to each guests.

Groom’s Cake

A cake that was traditionally richer than the bride's, with the addition of flavors like chocolate and fruit. Groom's cakes are served at the wedding reception but can also be served at the wedding ceremony. It is usually considered proper for the groom's cake to be served separately from the bride's. Many are decorated to reflect the groom's hobbies, such as golfing, fishing, or hunting.


A small cake baked in a cup-shaped container and typically iced.

Get free baking business tips and tricks in your inbox. Join the BakeCalc community of 3,000+ bakers.