Substitute Items You Find Helpful

Decorating By rpaige Updated 18 Jan 2012 , 12:42pm by Playcrackthesky

rpaige Posted 1 Aug 2011 , 4:44pm
post #1 of 40

We hobby bakers have no profits to order/purchase every fun tool and accessory on the market - although it is tempting.

I was just wondering if any of you would be willing to share any products, household tools or ideas that are basically "short cuts" or "substitute" items that you find helpful but are not necessarily a Wilton baking product, etc.?

Example: The bench scraper is from a hardware store but works just fine for smoothing cakes in some cases. Can a specific clean jar lid be used in place of a flower forming cup, etc?

Legal Disclaimer: Yes - we all know that products/ideas need to be food safe and within reason.

With that being said, I would love to hear some of your great money saving/time saving ideas. Thanks!

39 replies
DomesticatedDiva Posted 1 Aug 2011 , 5:03pm
post #2 of 40

Brilliant idea for a thread!
I'm new to cake making but so far household items ive used in place of the 'proper' tools are.....

Garlic press = grass tip( makes awesome grass with fondant its jsut time consuming placing them on the cake!)

Lollipop stick = dowel (was an emergency lol,these were unused sticks from a pack btw)

Paper doilles = fancy cake wrappers

Pizza wheel = to cut fondant

Thats it so far in my few months as a cake hobbyist icon_smile.gif

TexasSugar Posted 1 Aug 2011 , 5:11pm
post #3 of 40

I am the worst impulse buyer, though I have gotten better about it over the years. Something I have learned is that sometimes you don't really have to by something specifically for something, especially if you can find other things that work for it and for other things.

You asked about flower formers. I do really like wilton's cup ones, and have bought, several sets, with coupons and have used them. So it was worth it.

But a couple of years ago, I was doing this cake and I wanted to do flowers on it, and didn't have formers that would work for what I wanted. So what did I do? I took a bowl in the size I wanted the former to be, and pressed foil into it, then pulled the foil out. It holds it shape. Plus it isn't perfect, so your flowers aren't all exactly alike, which in the end, adds to the look of the cake.

http://cakecentral.com/gallery/1423334/1423337

The above is the cake I did that one. I used a small bowl for the flowers on the side. For the flowers on the top, I used several different sized bowls (I had a nesting set) did the foil thing in them.

You could also use foil or plastic wrap over the top of a glass, allowing for a dip in it.

Last month I was working on flowers and I had thought I had bought the Wilton drying rack, but couldn't find it. Okay great, so now what? Well I thought about my icing bag holders, and bingo! I was able to put several of the gerber daisies, sitting in the wilton comes on them, so the wires hung down. I also made some calla lilies and for those, I just hooked the wire in the holes and over the side. Was it the best thing I could have ever used? Oh I'm sure there is something out that that could be deemed better. But it was what I had, when I needed it and it worked for the purpose.

Have you seen these threads...

http://cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopict-8964-unusual.html+tools

http://cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopict-10052-unusual.html+tools

Ginnycakes Posted 1 Aug 2011 , 5:25pm
post #4 of 40

I cut the cardboard tubes that come inside paper towels in half lengthwise, press some foil in them and use them for flower formers. I also have some that were the tubes from gift wrap -- larger flower formers.

soapy_hopie Posted 1 Aug 2011 , 5:26pm
post #5 of 40

The two sided ball tool....I use a swissle stick (you know the kind for mixing drinks) there is a big ball on one side and small ball on the other, it costs $1.00 for four of them at the dollar store, and I much prefer it to the ball tool

bakingpw Posted 1 Aug 2011 , 5:33pm
post #6 of 40

Bubble wrap for impression mat...
Pasta roller for ribbons and small fondant pieces...
Bottom of a 2-liter bottle to make flower impressions...
Make colored sugars with course sugar and food color - shake in container...
Egg cartons for flower formers...
Plastic plaster trowels with designs for cake combs...

I'm sure I'll think of more. Great post idea - I look forward to hearing the responses.

ReneeFLL Posted 1 Aug 2011 , 5:40pm
post #7 of 40

I bought the Wilton drying rack and did not like it. It was not very stable. What I use now is the wire rack from my toaster oven. I set it on top of some drinking glasses and hook the wires over it. I can put alot on it.

allaboutcakeuk Posted 1 Aug 2011 , 5:58pm
post #8 of 40

Yes we can end up buying so much stuff that doubles up.
some of mine:
apple/fruit holders they have at grocery stores - flower formers
plastic brillo pad - grass/texture effect
plastic plumbing tube (sterlised of course) - former for castle turrets/tubes etc to dry round
new large powder brushes - for dusting large areas with lustre dust
back of a teaspoon! - for creating wave/sea effect on boards (see in my gallery the boat pic that's how i did that with the teaspoon lol)

rpaige Posted 1 Aug 2011 , 7:45pm
post #9 of 40

Awesome ideas, ladies!

My mind is spinning and I'm already pulling things out and looking at them in a whole new light. I had a rack that came with my microwave that I took out and never use. Placed on top of cups - I have a new drying rack! The bottom of a liter bottle or a bowl/foil is a flower form, the bubble wrap is being pulled out of my latest UPS delivery and soaking in soapy water right now! I'm guessing my husband will wonder why plastic wrap is hanging out to dry!

Let's keep going: our husbands - and our bank accounts - will love you all!

Torimomma Posted 1 Aug 2011 , 7:47pm
post #10 of 40

Love this thread! I like to buy so I don't have many substitutes but I have used a sterilized egg carton and mini muffin tins for flower formers.

Also decorating tips to cut circles, both ends.

For those expensive foil circles to line flower nails I use the cardboard square that came with the first package I bought and some cheap aluminum foil pop-ups from the dollar store. Whenever I'm watching tv I'll cut a few and they work great. You can get about 8 squares from one pop up, there are 25 sheets in a box, so that's 200 squares for $1.00 ad opposed to their 50 for $1.99.

Please keep this thread going!

leafO Posted 1 Aug 2011 , 8:08pm
post #11 of 40

I recently got a drywall circle cutter icon_smile.gif
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00002X2EE/?tag=cakecentral-20


I use it for cutting foam core board to make cake drums. It has a ruler on it that shows the size circle you're cutting and a rolling blade on the end that cuts much straighter than I ever could.

mckaren Posted 1 Aug 2011 , 8:15pm
post #12 of 40

Cake cooling rack on top of glasses for drying flowers.

Bottle tops for different size circle cutters (even tiny flavouring bottles).

Thin dowelling rods for rolling out tiny pieces of paste or edges for modelling/petals. (helpful if you want to a ridge down the centre of a petal or leaf thick enough for a wire to go into but giving thin edges)

Cocktail sticks/wooden skewers for veining petals.

littlestruedel Posted 1 Aug 2011 , 8:18pm
post #13 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by leafO

I recently got a drywall circle cutter icon_smile.gif
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00002X2EE/?tag=cakecentral-20


I use it for cutting foam core board to make cake drums. It has a ruler on it that shows the size circle you're cutting and a rolling blade on the end that cuts much straighter than I ever could.




This is brilliant!!

bakerliz Posted 1 Aug 2011 , 8:46pm
post #14 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by leafO

I recently got a drywall circle cutter icon_smile.gif
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00002X2EE/?tag=cakecentral-20


I use it for cutting foam core board to make cake drums. It has a ruler on it that shows the size circle you're cutting and a rolling blade on the end that cuts much straighter than I ever could.




AMAZING!!!! I can get huge sheets of foam board on sale and this will be so much cheaper than all those cake boards I've been buying! not to mention that I will never get stuck not having the right size board on hand. Thank you, Thank You! Will you be my new best friend?!?! icon_lol.gif

rpaige Posted 1 Aug 2011 , 8:52pm
post #15 of 40

A drywall circle cutter - genius! I have spent hours walking around my house trying to find just the right size circular item so that I can trace a circle and then try to cut manually - what a mess that makes and never very neat!

Great idea - definitely working that into the budget.

shanter Posted 1 Aug 2011 , 9:31pm
post #16 of 40

Japanese cutters for bento boxes. Original use: cutting flowers and other shapes out of radishes, carrots, etc. to "pretty up" bento box lunches. You can find them on eBay (bento cutters), elsewhere on the web, and japanese food stores (ifyou have one handy). Great for fondant or gumpaste.

Drywall knife (a.k.a. mud knife, mud trowel) for a wide smoother--same idea as a paint edge protection tool. I love hardware stores for obscure (for caking) tools.

Toothbrush (texture), face scrubber sponge (texture), fancy earrings (make impression and pipe over).

leafO Posted 1 Aug 2011 , 9:39pm
post #17 of 40

I can't take the credit, I'm sure I got the idea from someone here on CC, I just can't remember who, just passing a good idea on icon_biggrin.gif

It really makes cutting circles so fast and saves me a lot of money. I'll usually glue a couple of layers of foam core together for really large or tiered cakes but I get my foam core at the dollar store, so even for the big cakes it's only $2-3 for a nice cake drum with ribbon wrapping the edge icon_biggrin.gif

leafO Posted 1 Aug 2011 , 9:43pm
post #18 of 40

Sometimes I like to make my own stencils. I print off and image I like and tape it to the lid of a large yogurt or potato salad container, then use an exacto knife to cut it out.

shanter Posted 1 Aug 2011 , 9:47pm
post #19 of 40

Plastic letter stacking trays from Office Depot for chocolate transfer sheets. Not exactly a tool, but handy for storage.

BrendaST Posted 1 Aug 2011 , 9:58pm
post #20 of 40

For stitches marks on fondant I used a new comb which I very well sterilized and then just cut the edges. It worked very well. Few days later my stitching weel arived by mail, but the job was already done.

yummy_in_my_tummy Posted 1 Aug 2011 , 10:01pm
post #21 of 40

I use those flexible cutting boards from the dollar store as Cricut mats. Those things cost like $15 for two of them! But, I'm cheap, and get two for $1 at the dollar store icon_smile.gif

AnnieCahill Posted 1 Aug 2011 , 10:35pm
post #22 of 40

You can get fondant tools and other cutters CHEAP in the clay modeling section of craft stores. I got a set of 3 double ended fondant tools for like $4. There are also little Primo Sculpey cutters I am going to buy which would be adorable for making fondant decorations for cupcakes.

kmstreepey Posted 2 Aug 2011 , 12:17am
post #23 of 40

Rubber stamps for imprinting fondant. I've picked up several in the dollar section at Target and they are often in the clearance sections of Michael's and Hobby Lobby. Just make sure they were never used with ink, of course. I've heard that you can also use gel colors or edible ink as "paint" for the stamps but I haven't tried that yet.

brown_suga Posted 2 Aug 2011 , 12:39am
post #24 of 40

Ooooo! Love the rubber stamp idea! Thanks

scp1127 Posted 2 Aug 2011 , 6:14am
post #25 of 40

I am also a general contractor. The Putty knives will rust or deterioriate. And a good putty knife is more expensive than a bench scraper. This is one item I would definitely avoid.

My favorite non-cake item is my Craftsman toolbox. It's the big one with drawers. I spray painted it white, many coats. I then covered every drawer with shelf liner on the bottom and up the sides. For the top and folding shelf, I again covered it with shelf liner. I can also use it as a third work station with a KA on top.

angelleyes Posted 2 Aug 2011 , 7:10am
post #26 of 40

I'm sooo gonna get a play doh set and start using it.. It's on the other thread.. On the first page there is a link

kmstreepey Posted 2 Aug 2011 , 12:52pm
post #27 of 40

I was just thinking the other day that playdoh tools would be great cake tools!

sweetideas Posted 2 Aug 2011 , 1:13pm
post #28 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

I am also a general contractor. The Putty knives will rust or deterioriate. And a good putty knife is more expensive than a bench scraper. This is one item I would definitely avoid.

My favorite non-cake item is my Craftsman toolbox. It's the big one with drawers. I spray painted it white, many coats. I then covered every drawer with shelf liner on the bottom and up the sides. For the top and folding shelf, I again covered it with shelf liner. I can also use it as a third work station with a KA on top.




HA. The tool box idea is great! I would love to be so organized!

kakeladi Posted 2 Aug 2011 , 1:44pm
post #29 of 40

...........Egg cartons for flower formers....


TOTALLY NOT FOOD SAFE! icon_sad.gif Please, please do not re-use egg cartons for anything. It is *very easy!* to pass on salmonella germs from them!

rpaige Posted 2 Aug 2011 , 1:46pm
post #30 of 40

My husband is never going to turn lose of his craftsman tool boxes so I just make do with a stack of plastic bins.

I did find a lot of great organizer items in the fishing section of a sporting goods store. The clear tackle boxes were stackable and even came with labels. This type of item is also sold in fancy organizer stores but with all men in my house - I have to shop where they shop - not to mention they were much cheaper. I put the smaller lidded organizer trays inside a larger plastic storage bin and everything stays neat and in one place.

I spent a lot of money on the blue and clear large Wilton upright organizer and it just takes up space. The Wilton organizer is now my "travel kit" which I take on deliveries to make repairs.

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