August 20, 2017

How do I make stencils fit my cake?

I love stencils they are fantastic, so quick and easy to use. I first came across culinary stencils in Florida last year at the ICES convention, I saw them being demonstrated and I’ve been hooked ever since.

The easiest way to use is stencils is on a flat surface, however once you have practised a few times then you can also stencil on the side of cakes as well.

The secret to success is getting your royal icing to the correct consistency; you will need a fairly stiff icing so I suggest you experiment and practice before having a go on your cake.

To use a stencil directly on your cake, board or rolled out modelling paste. Place dollops of royal icing to help hold the stencil in place, then spread the royal icing, using a scraper or pallet knife, evenly over the stencil. Gently pull off the stencil and admire.

Stencilling a board - Screen shots from Lindy's Wonky Cakes DVD

Stencilling a board - Screen shots from Lindy's Wonky Cakes DVD

Touch up any points/imperfections with a damp paintbrush. The screen shots above were take from my wonky celebration cakes DVD, so if you’d like to watch me in action then why not order a copy.

Back to the question, it is not uncommon to find that the stencil is not a perfect match for the cake or board which you are trying to decorate. If you are decorating the side of the cake and the stencil will not reach all the way around the cake, you need to allow the first section of stencilled royal icing to dry – usually around 10 minutes or so – and then simply start the next section making sure that the patterns follows on from where you have left off (a bit like matching up the pattern when wallpapering). If you find you have too much stencil for the final section, then use masking tape to “block out” the part of the pattern which you do not want to appear.

TIP: Surgical tape can help to fix the stencils in place on the side of the cake when decorating, alternatively another pair of hands is useful.

Crewel border side stencil - using different colours of icing

Crewel border side stencil - using different colours of icing

If your stencil is too large for the top of the cake, then you will need to tape over the part of the pattern which you do not want to appear. On a board, like I used on the first example above you don’t need to mask the area of the stencil not being used.

I hope this helps and that you have as much fun with stencils as I’m currently having!


  1. Thanks for this Lindy and I hope you are having a great bank holiday! Once again, you are spot on. My attempt at using a large cake stencil was a complete disaster and I think I know why. I will patiently wait for your DVD (two more weeks to go and counting) for instructions and at some point, post a picture of my attempts, if it is bearable.

  2. Hi Lindy, I’ve recently used the leafy scroll stencils for a wedding cake and found it really stressful doing the sides (round cakes). I found some parts of the stencil stuck out, and found it really difficult to keep the stencil close to the side of the cake (icing didn’t go into all holes, and bled a bit in others). Does the stencil fitting kit really help? Wouldn’t it squash previous sections? I have got your wonky cake DVD, but it only showed the top stencil. I’ll email you a picture. Thanks for your help!

  3. Hi Cass
    My guess is that the diameter of your cake wasn’t ideal for the that particular stencil design. The leafy scroll stencil, works well on really large cakes but not so sucessfully on smaller ones. I recently wrapped it around an 8in cake but as you mentioned parts of the stencil stuck out, my solution was to stencil a modelling paste strip flat on my work surface and then place it around the sides of my cake. I have found however that for many designs the stencil fixing kit really does work, the trick is to let the royal icing thoroughly dry before moving on to the next section.
    I hope this helps – don’t be put off practice makes perfect!

  4. Lindy Stammers says:

    Hiya i have an already white iced cake bought from m&s and id like to try stenciling with a gold dust on the top. How can i do this please?

    Thanks Lindy

  5. Hello Lindy,
    Because the icing is dry on the cake you won’t be able to just dust the cake. You would need to use royal icing coloured gold e.g. use SF Autumn Leaf paste colour to stencil. Once you have applied the royal icing, peel off the stencil, leave to dry and then paint the pattern using edible lustre dust mixed with confectioners glaze, or just clear alchol if you prefer.

  6. THANK YOU SO MUCH!! I’ve always wondered how the damask style patterns have been made… I hope it is as easy to work with as it sounds :) And thanks for the link to the online shop.
    I can’t wait to try it out.

    ….after some googling I saw that you can also make stencils yourself the way you like! Use a surgical knife to cut out the foil 😉

    happy baking and decorating ***

  7. Hi Kate,
    Excellent to hear you are experimenting with stencils.
    Keep up the good work.

  8. Hi Lindy and Team!

    I have a four tier wedding cake to make and have been asked to make it look “lacey”. I bought the damask side tier stencil from the website and have tried it out on flat sugar paste by just rolling the rolling pin over it to emboss the design and it worked really well. However, I am really nervous about embossing the design onto the sides of the cake as I cant really press hard enough on the sides. It only has go on two of the tiers one 12″ and one 10″ round. I dont want to use royal icing and was just going to emboss the design and then dust with a white lustre to highlight it slightly. Do you think it will be possible to emboss a strip of flat sugarpaste and then attach it to the cake or are those sizes too big? Help :-(

  9. Hi Jo

    Have you got one of our side stencil fixing kits? This helps keep the stencil in place. Then use a smoother to press the design through.
    Here are links to these products in our online shop:-

    I’m not sure how the cake will look if you attach a strip of sugarpaste to the cake afterwards.

    I hope this helps and good luck!


  10. Hi there,

    I am stencilling with royal icing on buttercream covered cake. Can I spray directly after applying the royal icing or do I remove the stencil, wiat for it to dry and then paint on the colour?

  11. Hello Sylvia,
    The stencils work best on a sugarpaste covered cake.