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Is this your first time decorating cakes? Learn how to decorate cakes like a pro with these 6 simple tips. (Great for beginners!) Your cake will look better than ever! Instruction video included
Simple Birthday Cake Decorating Ideas
There is no new version today! Instead, I will teach you in detail how to decorate a cake from start to finish. this is from me
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If you’ve ever been tasked with making a layer cake, whether it’s a wedding cake, birthday cake, or just a get-together, you already know the stress that comes with decorating it. Sheet cakes are easy to decorate, but layer cakes are a whole different animal. It’s easy to spend a lot of time trying to get your cake to look *just* right.
Uneven frosting, uneven layers, and messy decorations are just some of the problems that arise when decorating for novice bakers. But not now!
Even if you’re not a beginner cake baker, my tips will help you improve your skills to create the best and most beautiful cakes you can make! Follow the steps below and watch until the end to see how to decorate a cake from start to finish.
Here are some of my favorite essentials: Most of these can be replaced with more common tools, but if you can get your hands on the real thing, it can be very helpful!
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Bonus tip: An offset spatula (or bench scraper) and turntable can help smooth out the sides, but are not necessary.
Tall cakes look better than short ones, so choose a three-tier recipe (e.g. peanut butter chocolate cake or Oreo cake). Or *if you have a two-tier cake recipe you really like, like my white cake, just increase the recipe by 50%.
If you only have two pans (or your oven can only fit two pans), you can leave the dough out on the counter while you wait for the third layer.
It’s not absolutely necessary, and even if you skip this, your two-tier cake will look even better using all the other methods described today!
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Some cakes are nice and flat (like my gingerbread layer cake), while others have domed tops (like my yellow cake). For the easiest decoration and most beautiful end result, we recommend leveling your cake.
If you have a good eye and a steady hand, you can use a sharp serrated knife to level the cake. If not (me too!) use levels. I use an inexpensive cake leveler from Wilton, which I like. It’s less than $10 on Amazon and was a great help in purchasing several full level cakes! If you’re interested in how it works, the video below shows you how to use the exact tool.
Before leveling or freezing. Not only will the hotcake crumble, but it will also melt the icing. Be patient and let cool completely!
Many bakers who are just learning how to decorate cakes don’t realize how important icing choice is.
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For the easiest and most beautiful cake decorations, use a firm icing that can be easily molded. It should be easy to roll out (to avoid lumps in the cake), but not so thin or so hot that it falls off the cake.
Buttercream, My Cream Cheese Frosting, and Swiss Meringue Buttercream are all great choices for the novice cake decorator. It’s sturdy and smooth, not too thick or too thin and the pipe fits well.
I highly recommend that beginning bakers make 50% more icing than the recipe suggests. why? Mistakes happen, and you shouldn’t rush to make more! Making it extra provides much-appreciated wiggle room. Additionally, if you want decorative piping on top, additional items are often required (more on that below!).
A two-layer cake usually requires 5 cups of frosting, and a three-layer cake requires 6 to 7 cups.
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Yes, you can completely decorate a cake with a standard batch of icing (usually 4 cups) and I always do it without problem. But when I was a beginner I realized it was much easier to add to any mess.
Bonus tip: Still need more icing after decorating your cake? If you don’t plan on using them right away (cupcakes are always a good idea!), you can usually freeze them. Place leftover icing in an airtight container and freeze for several weeks. When ready to use, place the container in the refrigerator overnight. You may need to bring it back to fix the problem before you can use it.
There is a thin layer of icing on top of the cake. Bakers do this by incorporating cake crumbs into any layer to create a perfectly smooth, crumb-free outer layer of frosting.
Remember: A crumb coat doesn’t have to be effective, so don’t spend too much time on it. Coat the cake evenly and keep the frosting thin. The second layer covers all defects.
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After cutting the cake, place it in the refrigerator or freezer for 15 to 20 minutes. This will help the frosting harden well. When you’re ready to add the final layer of frosting, you’ll be thankful for the crumb coating!
Adding chocolate ganache dip is an intermediate skill, so don’t feel pressured to do one just yet. But when you’re ready, using this technique will add beauty to your cake and give it a glossy look.
I have a separate post on how to make ganache drips. If you’re ready, be sure to check it out!
Decorative piping on top takes the cake to a new level. Even an amateur can do this with the right tips. I like the large, closed star tip. I recommend Ateco 848. This is my favorite method for piping frosting on cakes and cupcakes. The Ateco 846 is slightly smaller and works well.
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If you’re nervous, you may ruin your decorations, so practice on a paper plate first. Once you’re confident with your design, slide the drill back into the piping bag and pull out the pipe!
If your pipes don’t turn out the way you want them to, add some spray! Sprinkles sprinkled on top go well with any cake! Be intentional about where you place them so the end result has a neat, clean look.
Bonus tip: If you’re having trouble filling a piping bag yourself, try this: Place the tip in the bag, then place the bag in a large bowl. Fold the top of the bag over the edge of the bowl to create a nice, large space for filling. Then use a spatula to spread the frosting into the cup and piping bag. No more confusion!
A bare cake is a cake that is layered with icing and has little or no icing on the outside (essentially a nice crumb coating!). It has a more rural look.
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Bear cakes are perfect for people who don’t like a lot of icing, and because they require minimal decoration, they’re a good choice for bakers who are just learning how to decorate cakes.
My pumpkin cake and lemon cake are both decorated in a semi-revealed style. If you’re curious what this looks like.
American Buttercream is the most commonly used choice for cakes, but it is not the only choice. If you want to make your frosting less sweet, try Stabilized Whipped Cream Frosting, Ermine Frosting, or Swiss Meringue Buttercream.
Or, if you’re looking for something different, try white chocolate frosting, marshmallow frosting, cookie dough frosting, or brown butter frosting.
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Place the decorated cake in the freezer for a few hours to harden the icing. Then carefully wrap everything in plastic wrap (several layers are recommended) and finish with a layer of foil.
When ready to eat, remove the foil, place the cake in the refrigerator, and chill overnight, wrapped in plastic. A few hours before you are ready to serve, remove the cake from the refrigerator, remove the plastic wrap, and leave it on the counter to come to room temperature.
This post isn’t all-inclusive, but these are tips I wish I had known when I first started decorating cakes. Hope this helps!
Let’s do it together! My recipe and video below will guide you through every step! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram and you can also find me on YouTube and Facebook. Have you ever volunteered to make a cake for a special occasion? What may seem like a fun opportunity to show off your baking skills can quickly turn into a massive, multi-day project. This is especially true when using professional chefs as a benchmark. Fortunately, there are many simple cake decoration ideas that will wow your friends and family. with
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