The advantage of having a revolving cake stand is that it gives you easy access to all sides of the cake for frosting. It’s not an absolutely necessary kitchen tool, even if you’re a baker, however. When you only frost a cake once in a blue moon and it’s for your own personal enjoyment, it’s not critical to have a showpiece-like cake and you can be a bit casual with the frosting, or “make-do” by manually rotating a cake stand or serving plate. But if you frost cakes regularly, or make them often for parties/birthdays/occasions where you want to ensure an extra-nice frosting job is done, it’s nice to have one.
When choosing a revolving or rotating cake stand, there are a couple of features to look for. The first is weight. A heavier stand is going to give you a smoother rotation and give you some security when you’re frosting the cake. The second is material. Metal stands are going to be heavier and more professional (bakery-quality) in make. Plastic is going to be a big easier to store and much lighter. The third is design. It’s important that the turntable of the cake stand be completely flat. If it has a ridge, you’re going to have a hard time sliding your cake (on a cake board, of course) off of the stand. Finally, the last is size. A larger stand will give you more options than one that will only fit an 8-inch cake and will save you headaches with multiple uses.
Cook’s Illustrated posted a review of cake stands a while back and used these same criteria to pick out their top choices. As always, their ratings are helpful when selecting kitchen tools. Their top pick is the metal Ateco Professional Icing Turntable, which was heavy and provided the smoothest rotation. Their second pick was the Ateco Revolving Cake Stand, a plastic stand that is lightweight, inexpensive and almost as good as its metal counterpart. They recommend against Wilton’s Tilting Turntable as “gimmicky” (I have used it and didn’t care for it, either).