I have a confession to make. Even though I love baking decadent cakes and desserts, I’m not very good at traditional cake decorating. I don’t like squeezing icing out of a bag, I always lose those little decorator tips, and I’ve never learned how to make pretty little roses and leaves anyway. I can use fondant a little, but that’s about the extent of my icing skills. I was never one to come up with cake decorating ideas for fun. (And yes, I know about the pre-made, canned “easy-to-use” icings, but I don’t like the way that they taste.)
One of these days I’d like to take a cake-decorating class. But in the meantime, there are a lot of easier ways to decorate a cake for Easter, birthday parties, or any time you want to make a special treat. So, here are some cake decorating ideas.
Some Cake Decorating Ideas
Arrange, don’t decorate
With a few inexpensive supplies, you can make beautiful toppers for your special occasion cakes and barely use icing at all. For spring or Easter cakes, choose a theme that fits your party, such as “spring garden,” “bunnies,” or “Easter eggs.” Then try fresh flowers in small baskets, small stuffed toys, pastel candies, or any seasonal décor that is small and easy to use. Our local dollar store has tons of seasonal décor that is cheap and fun.
I used this method when my younger son requested a Peter Rabbit cake for his birthday this year. I looked on Pinterest for inspiration. My favorite had a 3-D Peter Rabbit surrounded by garden vegetables, all carefully sculpted out of pastel fondant. It was beautiful, but it looked much more advanced and time-consuming than I could manage.
Instead, I took the idea of “Peter Rabbit and his garden” and used an actual stuffed toy and real vegetables. I went to an upscale grocery store and bought the prettiest, smallest vegetables I could. I got a watering can and a plastic flower pot at the dollar store and topped it all off with a little stuffed Peter Rabbit.
The cake is a basic vanilla sheet cake, and I frosted it with lemon buttercream frosting. I bought a foam board at the dollar store and cut out two pieces: one larger than the cake and one slightly smaller than the top of the cake. I had my kids paint the foam boards to look like “grass,” using acrylic paint.
To protect the cake, I took four plastic cups and cut the bottoms off, leaving about 1 inch. I put these cut-sides down on the four corners of the cake to create four “feet” for the foam board. This way I could take off the foam board to cut and serve the cake without losing the top layer of frosting.
The easiest part was the assembly. I surrounded the Peter Rabbit toy with his vegetables, and voila, I had a beautiful cake in just a few minutes. The whole “decorating” process took less than half an hour, including waiting for the paint to dry. My son loved it, especially since I kept the toy a surprise until the last minute.
Some other cake decorating ideas? Use Berries
Berries are a natural fit for spring and summer cakes. Growing up, we ate a lot of angel food cake topped with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. Simple and delicious; and of course you can buy the cake pre-made and just top it. So easy!
· Strawberries – pair best with sweet, mild-flavored white or yellow cakes. Favorites are angel food cake, silver white (“wedding”-style) cake, pound cake, or white chocolate cake.
· Blueberries – Tart blueberries, such as the frozen variety, pair very well with chocolate. Sweeter, milder blueberries are good for the same cakes as strawberries. Or mix the two 50/50 for extra color and flavor.
· Raspberries – They’re fine with milder cakes, but if they have a strong flavor, you might only taste the raspberries and not the cake. Their tart flavor holds up really well with dark chocolate, which is why that pair is such a classic.
Using Frozen Berries:
Frozen berries do not hold their shape, but they have great flavor. They are better for using on individual cake slices than as a topping on a whole cake. They will also produce juice, which will looks great on an unfrosted cake (angel food, pound cake), but it does not work well on top of buttercream frosting. It will dilute and stain the frosting and look messy instead of artistic.
Defrost in the fridge overnight or in the microwave for about 1 minute. Toss with 1 teaspoon to 1 Tablespoon sugar and allow to “rest” for at least one hour. Serve individual slices of cake with a spoonful of berries and either a dollop of whipped cream or a dusting of powdered sugar.
Using Fresh Berries:
Choose large, attractive berries that are fairly even in size. I love fresh berries on layer cakes. For a simple but lovely chocolate cake, drizzle melted chocolate between the layers and top with fresh raspberries and more drizzled chocolate and/or chocolate curls. For vanilla cakes, smear whipped cream-based or cream cheese-based frosting between the layers (and a few sliced berries, if desired). Top with another layer of frosting (you don’t need to coat the sides!) and arrange the fresh berries on the center of the top, leaving a 1” “frame” of frosting around them. A little bit of powdered sugar sifted over the top is pretty, but it will disintegrate quickly. Only use powdered sugar right before you’re ready to serve.
Chocolate is the lazy decorator’s dream, and you don’t need any special tools. You can shave it into curls with a vegetable peeler or shape them over a rolling pin. You can melt it, place it in a sandwich bag, snip off the end, and drizzle it beautifully over just about anything. You can even get fancy and create chocolate leaves (mint leaves work great for this.) Try mixing white and dark chocolates for your curls and leaves for extra impact.
Buy Edible Flowers
Many large grocery stores sell edible flowers in the produce or floral department. They’re not cheap, but they are much cheaper buying a professionally decorated cake. They are prettiest on top of a simple white buttercream frosting. Just sprinkle them on and enjoy. Or surround them with pastel candies to “frame” the flowers nicely. They would be seasonal and festive for a holiday, baby shower, girl’s birthday cake, or Mother’s Day.
What are your favorite easy cake decorating ideas? Share those cake decorating ideas here!
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