You’ve baked the perfect layer cake and given it a professional-looking frosting job. Now all that’s left is the decorating step. Many home cooks think a wonderfully decorated cake comes from only one place: a bakery. But with our simple ideas, you’ll be surprised at just how easy it is.
HOW TO DECORATE A LAYER CAKE
A. Give the frosting texture: One of the simplest ways to decorate a cake is to give the frosting some texture. To create billows, press the back of a soup spoon into the frosting, then twirl the spoon as you lift it away. To make wavy lines or a stripe pattern, simply drag a cake comb (or a fork) around the sides of the cake.
B. Adorn just the bottom edge: For a simple, elegant look, consider pressing toasted nuts, flowers, fruit, sprinkles, candies, or cookies into the frosting just along the very bottom edge. This is also a great way to cover up a messy bottom edge.
C. Cover the sides completely: Covering the sides of the cake completely with crushed candies not only looks festive, but is also a great way to cover up a less- than-perfect icing job. Instead of crushed candies, you could use sprinkles, toasted nuts, coconut, chocolate shavings, crushed cookies, or even fresh flowers.
D. Mark each slice: Marking each slice with a small garnish is both a practical and attractive decoration idea. The garnish can either represent the flavors inside the cake (such as fruit, nuts, or chocolate-covered coffee beans) or simply be decorative (such as fresh flowers or sprigs of mint).
E. Cover the top completely: If you’re not going to write a message on the top, covering it with a garnish can cover up a less-than-perfect icing job or make a short cake look taller and more impressive. Instead of chocolate shavings, you could use fruit, fresh flowers, or shaved coconut.
F. Pipe decorations onto the cake: If you have a pastry bag, piping can turn a homemade cake into a professional-looking cake. It can be as simple as a row of pearls lining the bottom edge of a cake or as fancy as the swags and rosettes pictured here.
Ready to decorate? Our recipe for Red Velvet Cake is a fine place to start.