5 Simple Cake Decorating Ideas For Birthdays
What is the easiest way to decorate a cake?
Want to make a birthday cake for a special person in your life? Don’t let your lack of cake decorating confidence get in your way of creating a masterpiece. At The Cake Decorating Company, we want everyone to feel like birthday cake baking heroes, which is why we’ve pulled together our top 5 simple birthday cake ideas. With easy to follow instructions on how to achieve each design, our simple cake decorating ideas will make you feel like a cake decorating pro! The hardest part will be choosing which style to go for!
As we’re concerned with cake decorating rather than baking in this guide, each of our five simple birthday decorating ideas will work on the basis that your cake is already baked, has been left to cool and is fully assembled ready for decorating. Check out our Cake Decorating For Beginners Guide, for more help with this. These five methods we’ve picked to make stunning, professional-looking birthday cakes are all super easy to achieve at home, giving you lots of different options for your next special occasion!
1. Chocolate Drip Cake
Drip cakes have seen a real surge in popularity for their impressive look and statement appeal. Super easy to recreate at home with minimum effort required, drip cakes give you the opportunity to go wild with your decorating! A great base for adding an interesting topper, or further decorating, here’s how to recreate one of your own.
Things you’ll need:-
• A frosted cake (check our Cake Decorating For Beginners Guide for help with this)
• A cake turntable
• Spoon or squeeze bottle
• A spatula or palette knife
Before starting this process, you’ll need to make your chocolate ganache. Whether you’re making it from scratch or using an easy to melt, pre-made version, the consistency and temperature of the ganache will determine how well your chocolate drip cake turns out. Once made (or melted) let your ganache sit for around ten minutes to thicken up before using it to make your chocolate drips. To test the consistency of the ganache, drip some down the side of a room-temperature bowl to see how quickly it drips. If it’s too quick, then your mix needs a few more minutes, or if it’s too slow, you may need to heat it slightly.
Make sure your cake is at room temperature and is sat on its cake turntable before applying the ganache to it. If you’re using a squeeze bottle, fill this with the ganache and place the tip of the bottle a few centimetres above the top edge of the cake. Squeeze the bottle gently to add the ganache, releasing when you’ve added a decent sized drip to the cake but leaving just enough pressure on the bottle to fill the gap between that drip and the next one (turn the turntable as you move onto each drip). If you’re using a spoon instead of a bottle, add the ganache to the top edge of the cake, then push it over the side to create the drip. Practice on an upturned bowl to determine how much chocolate you’ll need.
Once the drips are finished, fill the centre of the cake by pouring ganache gently onto it from a bowl. Use a palette knife to spread out the ganache, leave to set and then add your topper! Voila! A cake masterpiece!
2. A Semi-naked Cake
A naked cake is a cake that has its inner layers and frosting exposed. An elegant design that is a staple of weddings and baby showers alike, its simplicity is what makes it such a show-stopper! There are two types of naked cake, a fully naked cake that doesn’t have a crumb coating and a semi-naked cake, which does (pictured). A semi-naked cake is one of the most simple birthday cake ideas out there and when topped with either real or edible flowers, you’ll fool everyone into thinking it was professionally made.
Things you’ll need:
• A layered cake with frosting between each layer (buttercream and jam can look really amazing here!)
• A cake turntable
• A ganache plate
• Vanilla frosting for the crumb coat
Take your already stacked cake and place it onto your cake turntable.
Apply a fine layer of frosting to your whole cake, starting at the top and spreading out with your palette knife, before working onto the sides of the cake, turning the turntable as you go.
To finish, place a ganache plate on the top of your cake, take a cake smoother and smooth the sides of your cake whilst tuning the turntable, for clean, tidy, exposed layers
Allow the cake to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes (this should set the crumb coat).
Once this is done, add flowers or fruit to the top of the cake for a show-stopping finish that’s simple yet beautiful!
3. A Heart Sprinkles Cake
Add a pop of colour to an otherwise simple birthday cake with some rainbow sprinkles! Another of our simple birthday cake ideas that are perfect for teen girls or anyone that loves a splash of rainbow colours.
Things you’ll need:
• A layered cake with crumb coat applied
• Vanilla frosting or buttercream (or coloured frosting for a different finish)
• A palette knife
• Edible rainbow sprinkles (or sprinkles of your choice)
• A heart-shaped template or cookie cutter (you could simply draw one on cardboard and cut away the heart shape)
Take your crumb-coated cake and place it onto your turntable
Add your pre-bought or premade frosting or buttercream to the top of the cake and spread it out with a palette knife. Once you’re happy with its appearance, add a ganache plate to the top of the cake to press it flat, then work your frosting around the sides of the cake, turning the turntable and spreading out with the palette knife as you go.
To create a smooth finish, use a cake smoother and run it around the sides of your cake, whilst turning the turntable.
Once finished, carefully remove the ganache plate and sit your heart template or cookie cutter on the top of your cake.
Gently shake your sprinkles over the template, filling the heart, then press them down into the buttercream to ensure they stick in place. When you’re happy with the design, remove the template.
To put a heart on the side of the cake, we’d recommend ensuring that your buttercream or frosting is thick enough for you to press a heart-shaped cookie cutter into the side of your cake. Then, rather than pouring the sequins in, press a few in at a time, section by section, until they hold in place. Put the cake in the fridge for the buttercream to set, then carefully remove the cookie cutter and your heart should hold in place.
4. Multicoloured Frosted Cupcakes
If you’re looking for really simple and super effective cake decorating ideas, unicorn frosted cupcakes offer a real wow factor when they’re sat in the centre of any birthday table. And the best part? They’re so easy to make! If you’re not that confident with your baking or decorating skills, a box of cake mix and some premade frosting will make this task a breeze!
Things you’ll need:
• 6 pre-baked cupcakes in cupcake cases that have been left to cool
• Sprinkles or toppers (optional, if you want to add a finishing touch
Line-up your premade cupcakes, making sure that they’re level and removing any bumps carefully with a knife
Pipe the frosting (which comes with a built-in star nozzle) directly onto each cupcake for swirly, multicoloured, curly results.
For extra sparkle, finish with some edible sprinkles!
5. Balloon Topper Cake
Another simple birthday cake decorating idea that packs a punch. By frosting a cake in the recipient's favourite colour, then adding a fun balloon topper, you’ll create a birthday centrepiece that everyone will be talking about long after those birthday celebrations.
Here’s what you’ll need:
• A crumb-coated cake
• Premade frosting in a colour of your choosing
• Wooden dowels, pegs and string (for the washing line)
• Four balloons (alternatively, you can tie the balloons straight to four dowels for a different finish)
Take your crumb-coated cake and place it on the turntable
To create the rougher frosting look (pictured), spread your premade frosting onto your cake using your palette knife, starting at the top and working down the sides. Turn the turntable as you go, but don’t worry about aiming for a smooth finish. If you prefer a smooth finish, use a ganache plate and cake smoother to level out the frosting (using the same method used in the heart sprinkles cake).
Blow up four balloons and knot them. Be careful not to blow them too big or they may fall into the icing!
Add a dowel to each side of the cake and then tie them together with a piece of string to create the washing line.
Clip on your balloons with your wooden pegs for a fun and fabulous finish!