- Modern Cake Decorating Techniques
- Different Types of Cake Designs
- Cake Decorating Styles
- Which Is Your Favorite Cake Decorating Style?
In many ways, cake needs no introduction. It is a delicious combination of flour, fat, sugar, eggs, and liquid that is one of the finest things ever made. There I said it. Bold statement I know, but it had to be said.
As well as being delicious, cake decoration offers us a chance to express ourselves. Just as our clothes are an insight into who we are, how we decorate our cakes says a lot about us.
Whatever your style and skill, cake decoration has something for everyone. That said, it’s a bit daunting. There are so many cake decorating styles out there, varying from simple rose designs to intricate patterns made with Russian piping nozzles.
Keep reading to find out the top types of cake decorations, and the joys and variety that can be found in the wonderful world of cake decorating.
Modern Cake Decorating Techniques
As with fashion, cake decorating styles and techniques follow trends, including seasonal trends. Every year we see new techniques and ideas having their moment to shine, while some have remained timeless classics.
Modern cake decorations include everything from ombre-colored buttercream effects to hand-painted floral designs and metallic foiled elements. Think bright colors, 3D structures and intricate piping techniques.
Of course, you get your cake decorating swirls that you pipe out, but I am here to talk about the leveled-up cake decorating styles. Let’s dive a little deeper into these cake decorating techniques.
Comic Style Cartoon Cakes
A key trend for 2023 is absolutely a comic style cartoon cake. These come in many forms like a giant slice, a full cake or a shaped cake but the defining feature is the icing. It is usually brightly colored and edged with a thin line of black icing, just like a retro cartoon or comic strip. They are pretty cool and a trend I’m really enjoying.
Drip cakes are a classic and always look amazing. A drip cake became all the craze a few years back and has remained an absolute showstopper ever since and doesn’t seem to be losing any popularity any time soon.
In fact, drip cakes are my absolute favorite way to decorate cakes as it requires minimal effort and makes an otherwise boring-looking plain cake into an extravagant masterpiece.
The most popular way to drip a cake is to use chocolate ganache. But, you can also use white chocolate mixed with food coloring or even caramel to drip your cakes.
Fondant may feel like it’s been around forever, and this is partly true. There are some records of fondant being used in the 16th century, but this decorating technique only really took off in the 1950’s.
Since then, it has become an integral part of any cake bakeries menu and is now easily accessible to home bakers. Fondant has many uses in cake decorating from cake coverings to figurines and is a super easy way to jazz up a plain cake.
For home and professional bakers, cake stencils are a game changer when it comes to decorating cakes. They started gaining popularity in and around 2017, and have continued to grow since then. They are made of food-grade plastic and come in every shape and design you could imagine.
Stencils are used on an iced cake, to provide an extra layer of design, that is spread on with buttercream, painted on or airbrushed onto the cake. They offer a gateway into impressive cake decorating that yields great results with little effort and just a small bit of skill.
Airbrushing cakes has become a popular way to decorate cakes due to its ease and the amazing results that can be achieved. You don’t need any artistic skill or a steady hand to achieve a beautiful cake with an airbrush, although some practice helps. You can also airbrush without any fancy and expensive tools. Take a look at the article I wrote on how to airbrush without an airbrush!
When using an airbrush machine for decorating cakes, you’re able to add vibrant colors and stunning designs, like ombre effects and sprayed-on decorations. The best part is that this can all be done with very little effort.
Metallic finishes are a great way to instantly add a bit of glamour to your cake design. It can be as simple as painting edible gold paint onto the surface of the cake, or a more intricate design with gold leaf.
Metallic finishes are not just limited to gold and silver either, you can use any number of edible paints in shades of rose gold and copper. Metallic finishes also look amazing against an ombre effect as it provides a great contrast between the two colors.
Ombre Cake Decorating
The ombre effect is a great way to add an extra element of design to your cake without too much effort. It involves using different colors in one icing and achieving a smooth gradient between them.
Ombre cakes are incredibly popular right now and can be done with buttercream icing, fondant, chocolate ganache and an airbrush. You can use any colors you like and the result will always be stunning.
The marbling effect is a great way to add texture and interest to a cake without adding too many additional decorations. It’s achieved by swirling two colors together, usually one light color with one dark color, to create a unique pattern.
Marbled finishes look great on both buttercream and fondant and can be used with any colors you like. You can even add edible glitter to the mix to give your cake an extra sparkle. This decorating technique has become increasingly popular in recent years, especially among professional bakers.
Origami cakes are the new craze in the baking world and I can see why. They are so impressive! This technique involves folding paper into an origami pattern and filling it with chocolate ganache. The paper is then wrapped around the cake and left to set in the fridge overnight.
Once the paper is removed, you’ll be met with the most impressive origami cake. It’s hard to explain how to do this, so you’re better off checking out the video below to see how it’s done!
Fault Line Cakes
Fault line cakes are a stunning way to decorate a cake, and they can be done with buttercream or fondant. This technique is relatively easy and involves cutting into the surface of the cake and then filling it with contrasting colors of frosting or fondant.
The result is a beautiful layered pattern that will have your guests in awe. All you need is a steady hand and a bit of creativity to achieve the perfect fault line cake.
Different Types of Cake Designs
This might sound like a cliche, but the possibilities are truly endless when it comes to designing and decorating cakes. A plethora of tools, recipes, techniques and inspiration is at your fingertips. Here are my top types of cake designs that will wow any audience.
We’ve all seen them, everyone loves them and they are here to stay for a while yet. Naked cakes are stripped-back versions of the classic cake with minimal icing or no icing at all. It’s just layers of sponge and buttercream that is decorated with fresh fruits, edible flowers, nuts and any other thing you can think of.
Naked cakes are perfect for casual gatherings and look amazing with a fresh fruit layer over the top. If you want to add a rustic look to your cake, you can ice it with a really thin layer of icing so you can still see the cake sponge underneath.
I consider a partly covered cake to be the ones your granny used to make. Think of a Victoria sponge, with cream and jam in between 2 layers of sponge, and topped with a basic icing, buttercream, more cream or powdered sugar. They are quite simply, divine. Their simplicity is the key to their success, as they take a few basic elements and put them together in a glorious way.
I describe them as partly covered as it is usually just the top tier that has any kind of decoration on it. It can be spread or spooned on, or you can use a piping bag to create some nice swirls or roses. Simplicity is key here though, so usually the decorations are quite basic.
These are the types of cakes you’re used to seeing in bakery windows. They are usually a few layers of a cake, covered head to toe in buttercream or fondant. Atop the icing layer, you’ll see some hand piping, hand-painted, stenciled, or airbrushed designs.
These can be really impressive cakes, with a huge amount of work going into making them look and taste amazing. They are always a crowd-pleaser and the buttercream or fondant base makes it super easy to incorporate any design element you want.
Arguably one of the more difficult cake designs to get right but when it goes right, it goes really right! A mirror glaze is essentially a mixture that is poured over a frozen cake and sets with a shiny finish. So shiny that you might even see your own reflection, hence the name “mirror” glaze.
The glaze is made from a mixture of gelatin, sugar, water and a flavored or loured element. Oftentimes, two different colors are swirled together and then poured, to give a cake decoration with a swirl in it. They are also temperamental glazes to work with as they need to be heated to at least 35 degrees Celsius / 95 degrees Farenheit before they are poured onto the cake to set.
These masterpieces use multiple designs and techniques to create a highly impressive edible “scene”. They usually include multiple cakes of varying sizes, buttercream or fondant icing and extravagant edible and non-edible toppings. Hand-piped icing usually plays a role in the decoration, to give that extra layer of detail.
Cakescapes are a design that is here to stay, as they make a big statement for any event. Who doesn’t want to see a tiny world or scene made out of cake?
Cake Decorating Styles
The beauty of designing and decorating cakes is that you can put your own unique style onto them. All of the techniques and designs mentioned above can be used to create any of the below styles. So you have free rein to get as creative and as technical as you like!
Modern and Sleek
Think of a sharp-edged cake, covered in white or neutral-colored fondant and minimally designed with straight lines and perhaps a marble accent. Imagine the style of a newly built Hollywood Hills home but on a cake.
This style conjures images of your grandmother’s floral curtains, valences, and frilly pelmets. Anything vintage is having a revival, and this has come into the cake world as well. Piped buttercream in rosettes, garlands and petal shapes usually adorns a single or double-layer cake to give a bit of 70s flair.
As with anything vintage, the disco era of the 80s is coming at us from all angles. Retro cakes are usually brightly colored with fluorescent hues, accented with some animal print and with plenty of geometric shapes as decorations. They catch your eye and immediately make you want to get on the dance floor, in a pair of flares and dance the night away to The Beach Boys.
Shaped / Themed
Just a quick search for novelty cake molds and you will be inundated with options. You can honestly get them for anything you can possibly imagine. A shaped or themed cake is one that is made using a mold or is hand cut to achieve a certain shape. Birthday age numbers, letters, animals, people, you name it – you can shape a cake into it. These are great fun, and make a great centrepiece for any party table.
Ever seen a cake masquerading as a burger? Or a teapot that fools you into thinking it pours out tea but is in fact, a cake? Well, that is hyperrealism. Hyperrealistic cakes truly are works of art, with a huge amount of skill needed to create them. Hand painting, airbrushing, and edible printed elements are used to create cakes that fool us into thinking they are something else entirely.
Which Is Your Favorite Cake Decorating Style?
Whether you want to try your hand at decorating, you’re looking for your next challenge or you are just looking for some inspiration for a cake order, this article surely gives you a lot to consider. The world of cake decoration is seemingly never-ending, which can at times be a bit overwhelming! On the upside, there is an option and taste for everyone and you won’t be long finding the perfect cake decoration.
Naked cakes or fully frosted, comic style or retro, vintage, or modern cakes have an ever-changing and unique style. No two are ever the same and are the perfect representation of personality.