Be consistent. Whether you’re decorating your first cake or your seventeenth, it’s important to keep the design aesthetic consistent. Being consistent makes a statement all by itself: Even if your icing isn’t extra smooth, as long as it has the same feel all-around, it will be authentic. “With my very first cakes, my hand was shaking so badly. I was so nervous making a wedding cake,” Ron says. “I started doing a squiggle that was supposed to be an ornate straight line, but what I did is, I took this pattern and repeated it all over the cake. It ended up looking like a million bucks!”
Bring in help. Don’t be afraid to coat the sides of the cake, and even the top, with additional ingredients. Ron recommends holding the cake with one hand and sprinkling on things like flaky or toasted coconut, roasted slivered almonds, chopped hazelnuts or pecans with the other.
Go big. Ron is a big fan of layer cakes: he often makes eight-layer beauties at his New York bakery, Ron Ben-Israel Cakes. “Homemade cakes often look topsy-turvy,” he says. “The key is to refrigerate between stages." Make the first layer, put some filling on top, sandwich it together with another layer and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until the filling hardens. Once you take it out, add another layer of filling, another layer of cake and put it back in the fridge for a total of four times. “You have to plan in advance,” Ron says, “but it’s worth it.”