Pros: this kit has almost everything the beginning cake decorator needs
Cons: I still ended up spending a bundle on additional supplies
Earlier this year, my local Michaels offered two for one Wilton cake decorating classes. If you signed up for a class, you could bring a friend for free. This worked out to $12.50 a person or less than $3.25 a session. My friend Marcia and I took the class together and had a blast. Granted, we had as much fun drinking at Outback Steakhouse after each session but we learned a lot and enjoyed it.
When we attended the first session of Wilton Cake Decorating I, we were instructed to purchase the Wilton Student Cake Decorating Kit Level 1. Inside this kit were most of the supplies we needed in order to decorate cakes.
The contents included the following:
There are seven tips inside this kit: 3, 12, 16, 21, 67, 104, and 2D. Tips 3 and 12 are round tips that are used to make dots, outlines, rose bases and for writing. Tips 16 and 21 are star tips that are used to make stars, zigzags, shell borders and rosettes. Tip 67 is a leaf tip used to make leaves. Tip 104 is a petal tip which is used for bows, ruffles and flower petals. The final tip, 2D, is a drop flower tip with which you can make drop flowers and swirled flowers. No additional tips are needed for Wilton Cake Decorating 1. I did find myself purchasing a cake icer tip in order to base frost my cakes in a more expeditious manner.
The kit comes with two 10 inch featherweight reusable bags and one disposable bag. You have to have a bag of some type, be it featherweight, disposable or parchment triangles, or you won't be doing any decorating. You have to hold the icing somewhere! While this number of bags will get you through the class, I bought a small box of disposable bags and an extra 10 inch featherweight bag. I also bought a 16 inch bag to use exclusively with the cake icer tip since it needs a larger bag.
Two standard couplers are provided with the kit. Couplers enable you to change tips on a bag of icing which makes it easier than having to load up a separate bag of icing for each tip. I ended up buying a couple of extra standard couplers since I was using four different icing colors on one of my cakes. Please note that the 2D tip does not fit on a standard coupler and requires a large coupler.
4. Flower Nail
One #7 flower nail is included with this kit. While I suppose it's possible to create roses and other petaled flowers without a flower nail, the nail makes it much easier. When I first got my kit, this item and its use scared me because roses seemed so hard to make. Once I learned how to use it, I found that roses aren't that hard. Shell borders are much more difficult!
5. Practice Board Set
The practice board itself is a vinyl covered piece of cardboard with a clear overlay. The overlay lifts up, enabling the decorator to put a practice sheet underneath. The sheets have pictures of the various decorations we learned to create. My job as a student was to pipe icing onto the practice board overlay, right on top of the full sized pictures on the sheet, trying to copy them perfectly. For example, if there was a row of stars, I'd make a row of stars, right on top of the picture of the row of stars. If I did it correctly, my stars would look exactly like the pictured stars.
The practice board is useful, not just for practicing new skills, but for refreshing old ones. Whenever I am going to use a shell border, I always pipe out one or two shells, just to get the rhythm right.
The practice board comes with pattern sheets for all three levels of the Wilton basic classes so be sure to hold onto them if you plan to take Wilton 2 or Wilton 3. A stand is included with the practice board so you can practice piping in different directions but I've never bothered with it.
Two brushes are included with the kit: a decorator art brush and a tip brush. I never had to use the decorator brush in Wilton 1. In that class, you would use it if you wanted to use brush striping techniques to color your icing.
The tip brush is identical to the one that I bought to care for my clarinet over two decades ago. I'm still using that same brush to get under the various keys for cleaning my clarinet and applying powder to the pads to ensure that they don't stick. It can get into the smallest spaces. The brush with my cake decorating kit is wonderful for cleaning tips. It is an absolute necessity for getting icing out of those little holes. The only tip that the brush doesn't fit all the way through in this kit is the leaf tip, #67. You'll have to go at the tip from both sides to make sure it's completely cleaned out.
My favorite item from this kit is the small straight spatula that is provided. I used this to transfer icing from a container to my decorating bag. I also used this to mix in icing colors. It's the perfect size for those two jobs. I still found myself buying a large angled spatula to base frost cakes.
With all of these supplies, I still found myself buying additional items other than those already mentioned to round out my kit, starting with a caddy to hold everything. I needed icing colors since I didn't want to only make ivory colored cakes with ivory decorations. I needed toothpicks to transfer colors and scratch out patterns. I needed scissors to transfer my roses from the flower nail to the cake. While I probably could have taken the class without buying one additional item other than this kit, having the extras made the class more fun.
I wouldn't say that the kit has everything you need but it comes pretty darn close.