Does the idea of baking, frosting, and tastefully decorating a cake from scratch seem a bit overwhelming? It shouldn't. Get cake decorating inspiration with our easy ideas, and follow our basic steps to turn batter, frosting, and your desired toppings into a showstopping centerpiece.
An easy technique that gives your cake a sophisticated look is piping your frosting through a pastry bag. There are different types of bag tips that will get you different looks on your cake:
How to Decorate a Cake with Frosting
Instead of achieving the perfect look for your cake with piped frosting, you can get a creative look by adding fresh fruit, purchased cookies, and nuts. Here are a few creative cake-topping ideas, including inspiration for how to decorate a cake with strawberries:
Cake Decorating Tip: Be sure to serve cakes embellished with cookies or fresh fruit within two hours.
Check out the baking aisle at supermarkets, crafts stores, or specialty food stores for some of these edible garnishes. Here are a few that you'll find, plus tips on how best to use them:
Cake Decorating Tip: Use stencils to create shapes such as hearts with edible glitter, decorating sugars, or nonpareils.
Decorating a cake with candy provides you with tons of creative ideas. Here are a few types of candy that can easily be arranged to make decorative patterns and borders:
Before getting started on any cake decorating, you'll have to choose a frosting. You can easily whip up a homemade frosting, or if you're tight on time, use storebought frosting (it's just as good!). Keep in mind that creamy frosting varieties work best for piping, and whipped frosting varieties spread and swirl smoothly and evenly.
After choosing the frosting you'll use, you have to decide whether you want to tint or flavor your frosting. Butter frostings, white frostings, and cream cheese frostings can be tinted almost any color and flavored to match the cake's flavor.
How to Color Frosting
There are three ways to add color to frosting (one also adds flavor!). Paste or gel food coloring is highly concentrated and comes in a variety of colors (you can find it at hobby stores and specialty cooking stores). A little goes a long way with this type of food coloring—just swirl a toothpick into the coloring and mix well with your frosting. Add the color little by little until you have your desired hue.
Liquid food coloring is more commonly found in grocery stores and is usually packaged in a set of four colors: red, yellow, green, and blue. To use, stir drops of food coloring into the frosting (mix and match the primary colors to get creative hues!) until you achieve your desired color.
If you want to skip the artificial dyes, you can follow our instructions for naturally coloring frosting. Since this method uses blended fruits and veggies, it will add a little bit of flavor to your frosting. Feel free to get a little creative mixing up your colors, but you can also follow our guide for using strawberries, peaches, mangoes, and more to make pink, purple, yellow, and green frosting.
How to Flavor Frosting
For a little something extra, you can add flavor to your frosting to complement the flavor of the cake. Choose from various flavorings and extracts, such as vanilla, almond, rum, or maple, as well as different liqueurs (raspberry, hazelnut, coffee) and citrus zest to add standout flavors before decorating your cake.