Simple Cake Decorating Ideas
In this article I’m going to explain some
basic cake decorating ideas. It isn’t going be fancy,
it will be simple. It is geared towards someone who
doesn’t have experience decorating cakes. If you
find that you enjoy cake decorating, I do encourage taking a
class! You’ll learn how to make beautiful frosting
flowers and work with fondant!
I love making my own cakes. There are many
reasons. I love decorating them, which I find fun
and gives me a creative outlet. Also, my grocery store bakery
usually doesn’t offer the design I’m looking for to
match my theme. For those of you that have read a lot of this
website you know that my children often pick out of the ordinary,
creative themes for their parties! Let’s put it
this way: I don’t think I would have found a bakery that
could put a squid on a cake! Also, I tend to be
frugal. I can’t believe how much the bakeries
charge. I buy a box of cake mix for $1.09 and think it tastes
Cake Decorating Ideas, Step 1:
Decide on Your Cake Design
The very first thing to do is decide what you want the cake to look
like. You can browse our cake photo directory for ideas, or
come up with your own. Try to refrain from using too many
frosting colors, and keep your design simple. Knowing your
design will allow you to determine if what shape cake you will be
making, and what your frosting colors will be.
Cake Decorating Ideas, Step 2:
Bake the Cake
It is personal preference if you want to make the cake from scratch, or
to go from a box. As I mentioned above, I bake my cakes from
a box. I think they come out really good and moist.
However, if you have the time and patience, there is nothing like a
homemade cake from scratch!
I use one box to make two layers of a 8 inch round cake. I
have found that this size cake serves 12 to 15 people, depending on how
small you cut the slices. For more guests, buy more than one
box and move up to the rectangle size pans.
Cake Decorating Ideas, Step 3:
Make the Frosting
I usually always make my own buttercream frosting. I do this
because I find the frosting easy to decorate with, and many times I
decide to use the buttercream transfer technique of decorating which
calls for this type of frosting. You can find my buttercream
by clicking the link.
Of course, you can always buy your frosting too. It is very
inexpensive and is sold in little containers near the cake mixes.
Divide up the frosting depending on how many colors you will need, and
tint each with food coloring.
Cake Decorating Ideas, Step 3:
Layer Your Cake
If you are layering the cake, apply a thick layer of frosting on top of
one of the halves, and then stack the layers. But which side?
You may find that your cake top is uneven, and it is rounder and
sticking up higher in the center of the cake, and tapering at the
edges. Or, perhaps it is higher on one side, like the cake shown below. You have two choices to fix this.
You can position the two flat bottoms of the layers to be flush and
form the middle of the cake. Be aware that the top of your
cake will be slightly rounded, but this is the easiest way to fix the
If you need a flat top to your cake (for example, you need a flat top
for the Buttercream Transfer Technique or for a fondant layer), then
you should put the rounded tops of the layers together to form the
middle. To get these rounded sides to be flush, gently slice
off the rounded area with a large knife, as shown in the photos below.
Place the rounded layers, that you shaved off to make even, together. See how flat the top of cake is?
Cake Decorating Ideas, Step 4:
Apply the Crumb
The first layer of frosting you apply to the cake is called a crumb
layer. Its purpose is to give you a clean layer which will
prevent any crumbs from falling off the cake. This is
especially important if you have sliced your cake (as mentioned in the
step above). Slicing the cake will reveal a moist cake center
that is difficult to frost, since those crumbs cling to the frosting!
Apply a thin layer of colored frosting on the entire cake, using a
butter knife. Don’t go for full coverage, and it is
ok if you see crumbs clinging on the frosting. Doing this
complete thin layer gets all those crumbs contained.
Cake Decorating Ideas, Step 5:
Apply the Final
Layer of Frosting
Next, you can spread on a thicker layer of frosting over the entire
cake, to get full coverage.
For a very smooth appearance, you
can use a cake frosting knife. This is a special smoothed
utensil with no serrations. You can dip this knife into a
glass of warm water, which helps to smooth out the frosting surface.
Cake Decorating Ideas, Step 6:
At this point, if you are using the Buttercream Transfer Technique,
click here to go to the next set of instructions.
Otherwise, draw out the design you want to add using a
toothpick. Keep it simple!
Fill another frosting bag with a different color frosting with a star
Fill in the design by making little stars.
Making a star is a simple technique. You can practice on wax
paper first if it is your first time. You will apply some
pressure to the bag to allow the frosting to push out, while your tip
is about 0.5 cm from the surface. After some frosting has
dispensed release the pressure on the bag and push the tip slightly
down into the star, then bring the tip up as you release.
Once all your stars are filled in, use a contrasting color frosting
next. Add a round hole tip, and add an outline around the design,
Cake Decorating Ideas, Step 7:
Add Your Messsage
Adding a “Happy Birthday”? If so, now is the time
to add it using a round tip and some darker colored frosting.
The key is to take your time, and allow enough room! Try
printing or cursive.
Cake Decorating Ideas, Step 8:
Add Your Border
Cakes don’t seem complete unless they have a shell or star
border around the bottom of the cake (where it sits on the cake plate)
and along the top rim of the cake (the exception is with fondant, which
has such a clean look this isn’t necessary).
To master a shell border, add on a star shaped tip. Start with the tip at a 45 degree angle to the
surface. Apply some pressure, and back the tip behind where
you are dispensing, just slightly. Then bring the tip back
forward and release the pressure.
A Few Tips:
- Don’t get hung up on using cake decorating
frosting tips if this isn’t your thing. You can
also decorate a cake by finding small pictures of what the guest of
honor likes best. Add a toothpick to stick these little
photos up from the cake. For example, for a soccer
cake: Frost the cake in green and add little soccer balls on
toothpicks and stand them up all over the cake. This also
works great for the birthday message, if you don’t want to
take a chance with your own handwriting using frosting.
- Decorating a cake with fresh flowers is beautiful, or make
a design with candies!