Ina Garten's Tip For Perfectly Topping Cakes With Powdered Sugar

Using powdered sugar to decorate cakes is a simple, nearly no-fail approach to convert a basic cake into an elegant presentation without much effort. If the prospect of frosting a cake sounds stressful or you lack the skill and technique needed to add intricate details to a cake's surface, gentle sprinkles of powdered sugar can create a regal effect, encourages Baking Kneads. Whether you're planning to serve a delicate lemon poppyseed cake or a decadent chocolate layer cake after dinner, the right application of powdered sugar can enhance — and not distract — from the cake you've carefully made.

Traditional flourless chocolate cakes can be decorated into what looks like professionally-designed desserts with paper cut outs and jar lids, explains America's Test Kitchen. To make sure at-home bakers don't botch even the simplest of steps, celebrity chef Ina Garten has tips. After all, ruining a cake with careless presentations should be an intentional decision, not a surprising accident. 

Placement matters

Once your cake is cooled and ready to be decorated, it is reasonable to want to get the job done quickly. As Garten demonstrates, via Food Network, sieves can be tempting shortcuts. While many at-home bakers might hold the device over the cake and start adding powdered sugar to shake over the cake, Garten has a better idea.

First, hold the sieve off to the side, away from the cake, and fill the mesh net with sugar when it isn't suspended over your baked treat. Only after the basket contains an adequate amount of sugar, move it over to the cake and gently shake the powdered sugar over the cooled cake. With this approach, the white sugar will lay evenly on top of the cake, and you'll avoid the risk of sprinkling blotchy patterns or dropping accidental sugar piles onto the cake's surface. This small detail can make a big impact if you want a cake that looks like something a professional baker — or celebrity chef — was responsible for.