One thing I’m not is a talented decorator/finisher. However I know enough about finishing to know that you can achieve some remarkable things with a little gumption and a handful of tools. Here’s what my finishing arsenal looks like, all this photo is missing is my blowtorch, the pieces of which I hid so well from my kids that now I can’t find them. Oh well, life must go on.
Starting at the top and moving clockwise, my colors are first. I like the concentrated gels which are a lot more versatile than the liquids at the grocery store. Moving to the upper right are my cake building tools. There’s a fondant smoother, a cake comb and an offset spatula (which I plan to be buried with, it’s that useful) all on top of an Ateco cake wheel. All of those are essentials if you like to make American-style layer cakes.
Next are piping bags. I use the disposal kind whenever I can, though I love the antimicrobial Thermo-Silver bags…talk about a great idea! I tend to buy tips only when I really need them, same with collars (get the kind without the notch in the end because you’ll do a lot of piping without tips). That little pink thing is a rubber nipple that fits over a tip if it has to sit around for a while, it keeps the end from drying out. Another bit of genius if you ask me.
Next are stainless rings. I went through a big ring-buying phase a few years ago which nearly bankrupted me. I definitely don’t need all the sizes I have, but they’re great all-purpose forms. You can build all sorts of little multi-layered desserts in them, or just bake in them if you want. They’re definitely an IN-essential in the broad scheme of things, but can be fun. Speaking of plated desserts, squeeze bottles can be a good time as well.
Lastly I have a couple of thermometers which are essential for creating syrups (the kind that go on plates or into frostings), caramel, marshmallow, curds, custards, the list goes on. An instant-read is a must and not expensive. The bigger mercury job is very accurate and great for large quantities and for frying.