No-piping Cake Decorations - Different Than the Usual Ones

No-piping cake decorations
It doesn't matter if you have two left hands or no thumbs or all thumbs―you too can create beautiful cakes without ever even looking at a piping bag. No special equipment is required, so forget about using your Wilton's piping gun and make prettier cakes!
"Cake is happiness! If you know the way of the cake, you know the way of happiness! If you have a cake in front of you, you should not look any further for joy!"
―C. JoyBell C.
A beautiful cake is an amazing thing―nice to look at, great to eat. But if you tend to browse Pinterest forlornly because your piping skills aren't the greatest, don't worry―you don't have to be relegated to the sad, plain, realm of frosting-spread-with-a-butter-knife. There are tricks for you! They are simple, quick, and although they may not make you a star cake decorator, the no-piping methods are a great way to enhance your cake decorating skills.

And to be honest, most professional pastry chefs tend to eschew elaborate piping on anything but a wedding cake. So, for the next birthday, anniversary, holiday, or just-because-it's-Saturday cake you bake, use one of these tricks to elicit the oohs and aahs you've been craving as much as you've been craving that red velvet.
Sugar Shapes
Sugar shapes
Heat about a cup of water on the stove, and add sugar in half-cup increments. Stir constantly over medium heat, allowing each addition to dissolve before you add more. Keep adding sugar until it starts taking a really long time to dissolve (really long time in this case being about five minutes). Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly. While this is happening, spread some waxed paper on a rimmed baking sheet―if you have some awesome cookie cutters, place them on top (grease the rims if they're metal).

The sugar mixture is cool enough when it becomes thick and syrupy―thin enough to run off a spoon, but thick enough to not splash. When it reaches this point, pour it into your cookie cutters, or just pour it into the pan, and allow it to cool completely. Once cool, the sugar will be hard like rock candy. Remove it from the cookie cutters or pan, and use to decorate the cake. If you just used the pan alone, break the sugar into interestingly jagged pieces and stand them up in the frosting.
Spun Sugar
Spun sugar
Make your sugar syrup as above, and allow to cool. While it's cooling, spread newspaper around your workspace because this gets messy. When the syrup reaches the non-splashy stage, dip a wooden spoon into the syrup and swirl it around the cake. If you do it right, the syrup will trail from the spoon in tiny strands and harden around the cake, like spun silk. Alternatively, prop two wooden spoons about six inches off the countertop, handles facing you. Dip your spoon and quickly move back and forth between the spoon handles to create free-form spun sugar. If you work quickly before it hardens, you can form handfuls into little nests.
Vodka Chocolate
Vodka chocolate
No, vodka chocolate is not the name of your new bad habit (although chocolate vodka does exist, and it's vile). It's a method of creating three-dimensional shapes out of chocolate, and the result ups the elegance factor of any dessert by a thousand. First, pour a generous amount of alcohol into a sturdy container―use a container large enough to contain the size decorations you need, and aim for vodka at least four inches deep. Now stick the vodka in the freezer while you melt some chocolate.

Melt at least six ounces, because the decorations you make keep well in the fridge, and don't taste like vodka at all, not even when you sneak one while you're cooking dinner. Ideally, the chocolate should be melted and the vodka should be ice-cold at exactly the same time. Here's the trick: scoop up a tablespoon or so of melted chocolate and drizzle it into the vodka in a random pattern. The freezing vodka hardens the chocolate on contact, and you end up with three-dimensional designs. You also end up with fingers that taste like vodka―you'll see.
Combing
Strawberry cake topping
We tend to forget about frosting when it comes to cake decorating, unless we're piping it. No longer. Go to a craft store and purchase a cake comb―or, just use a wide-toothed regular comb (wash it first, very well). Spread your frosting as smooth as humanly possible, and put it in the fridge for 20 minutes or so to let the frosting set up. Then drag your comb around the side of your cake to create a professional-looking texture without touching a piping bag. Do the same to the top to make stripes, or zig-zag it for maximum funk. If you want to play a bit, feel free to attempt a woodgrain pattern―after all, if you mess up, just re-spread the frosting and try again.
Other ways in which you can decorate a cake is by adding colored sprinkles on top, drizzling chocolate, or adding candy on top. These methods are not only extremely easy but really quick to do as well. So, go ahead and dazzle your guests with some impressive cake decorations.