Love baking but don’t want to spend a fortune (or endless hours) making your cakes look professional and impressive? I've got 7 quick, easy and inexpensive ideas for how to decorate your cake. From smarties to fresh fruit you can turn your cake into a masterpiece with these ideas!
Perfect for special occasions like birthdays, Mother's Day or Christmas, my cake decorating ideas are also a great way to practise your baking skills.
The basic covering – buttercream or ganache
I love working with buttercream as it is quick + easy to whip up (and inexpensive) and can be used a gorgeous foundation to lay your decorations.
Ganache is beautiful! It’s silky smooth, tasty amazing and looks really professional. I use ganache under the cakes I cover with fondant but it looks perfect naked!
Both my buttercream and ganache recipes (and tips and tricks) can be found in my free cake decorating book. Grab it here.
I LOVE sprinkles. They are available in the supermarket and come in different shapes, sizes and colours. I love pairing contrasting colours.
To work with sprinkles, cover your cake in buttercream or ganache and let it set in the fridge for about 30 minutes or so. Whilst that’s setting, make up some sugar glue. I mix a little bit of tylose (found in cake decorating supplies) with boiling water until it’s a pasty consistency.
Spread your sugar glue where you want the sprinkles to stick. This can be all over the cake, in a pattern or even a word/name. I sprinkle over a or plate or tray so I can catch all the sprinkles and re-use them otherwise they are wasted. And try to do this over a sink as there will be some loose sprinkles which end up on the floor!
Smarties or candy
The possibilities are endless! So much candy, such little time…
Cover your cake in buttercream or ganache. While it’s still wet add your smarties or candy. If they are a little bit heavy or not co-operating and falling off, try sticking them with some royal icing or the sugar glue mixture referred to in the Sprinkles section!
Cover your cake in buttercream or ganache. Whether you are working with buttercream or ganache make sure you let the cake set in the fridge or the fruit may bleed into the icing. Keep the cake in the fridge until you are ready to serve it (or keep it in a cool air-conditioned room if you want it on display for your event).
I love berries (strawberries, blue berries, and raspberries). Use fresh berries as frozen berries will melt and bleed onto the icing. Mix it up with some figs and little bit of chocolate drizzle. You can ‘stick’ the fruit down with royal icing or sugar glue referred to in the Sprinkles section.
There is something really elegant about fresh flowers on a cake. There are a few things you need to know about working with fresh flowers and food – which flowers and how to prep them and insert them into a cake. Luckily, I’ve taken all the guess work out if it for you and written an entire blog post on this topic. Read it here!
Fondant is readily available in cake decorating supply shops and even Spotlight stores. You can buy small amounts in different colours or colour the fondant yourself. Fondant shapes (stars, circles, hearts, flowers, butterflies, etc ) can be added to buttercream or ganache. Cover your cake, roll out your fondant shape and stick it to your cake using royal icing or sugar glue. Voila!
Crushed up chocolate
Chocolate can used in so many different ways. A quick and easy decorating idea is to crush up your chocolate. I do this in my food processor or you can go old school and smash it with a rolling pin in a bag. Make sure your chocolate is cold so you get crisp sharp pieces.
Coat your cake or the section you want to stick with buttercream and then sprinkle on the chocolate. Play around with colours, contrasts and textures.
Hand painted meringue
Meringues are super cute. You can buy little white meringue kisses from the grocery store. I like to paint mine (mix food colour with a bit of vodka or rose decorating spirit) to match my theme. You can paint the entire little meringue or just the tips or a combination.
Cover your cake in buttercream or ganache. Once the painted meringues are dry place them randomly all over your cake. Stick them down with royal icing or sugar glue. Mix it up by adding some crushed chocolate, nuts, popcorn and you will have a spectacular looking cake!