3 Trendy + Easy Ways to Dress Up a Plain White Wedding Cake

Wedding expenses adding up? Save money without sacrificing style by decorating a plain, store-bought cake in one of this year's hottest looks — no baking skills required.

By: Heather Baird

Photo By: Heather Baird

Photo By: Heather Baird

Photo By: Heather Baird

Photo By: Heather Baird

Photo By: Heather Baird

Photo By: Heather Baird

Photo By: Heather Baird

Photo By: Heather Baird

Photo By: Heather Baird

Photo By: Heather Baird

Photo By: Heather Baird

Photo By: Heather Baird

Photo By: Heather Baird

Photo By: Heather Baird

Photo By: Heather Baird

Photo By: Heather Baird

Photo By: Heather Baird

Photo By: Heather Baird

Photo By: Heather Baird

Photo By: Heather Baird

Photo By: Heather Baird

Photo By: Heather Baird

Photo By: Heather Baird

Photo By: Heather Baird

Photo By: Heather Baird

DIY Wedding Cakes, 3 Ways

Did you know you could save hundreds of dollars on your wedding cake simply by decorating it yourself? Heather Baird from the noteworthy baking blog, SprinkleBakes, shows how to transform three, plain white store-bought cakes into stunning works of art in just a few simple steps and with budget-friendly materials. Read on to learn how to create a DIY Art Deco-inspired cake, watercolor geode cake and a floral-topped gold leaf buttercream cake.

From: Heather Baird

Design #1: Rose Gold Art Deco Cake

With its Art Deco stenciling and shimmering sequins, this rose gold cake is all dressed up for a glam affair. Rose gold luster dust — available for purchase at many cake specialty shops or online — is mixed with clear vanilla extract to create rose gold paint. Swing into your local craft store to pick up Art Deco stencils and a new pack of soft-hair or sponge artist brushes. You’ll need a kitchen-dedicated set for this project. To create the three-tiered effect, order white fondant-covered cakes in three sizes: small, medium and large.

From: Heather Baird

Step One: Gather Materials for Sequin Tier

You’ll need one medium-sized fondant-covered cake (well-chilled for firmness), small confetti sprinkles and light corn syrup or clear piping gel.

From: Heather Baird

Step 2: Paint on Syrup

Paint light corn syrup or piping gel onto the cake in a thin, even layer using a soft hair or sponge artist brush. Cover the edges of the cake completely.

From: Heather Baird

Step 3: Add Sprinkles

Place the confetti sprinkles on a plate and dip the edges of the cake into the sprinkles. If you have any bare spots, apply more corn syrup and press sprinkles onto the uncovered areas. Refrigerate the cake until sprinkles are well adhered, about an hour.

From: Heather Baird

Step 4: Mix Rose Gold Paint

Tap a little of the rose gold luster dust onto a small plate. To create a cake 'paint', add drops of clear vanilla extract while stirring together with a paint brush. The consistency is correct when you can drag your brush through the mixture and it creates brush tracks. If your mixture runs or pools back into the brush marks, add more luster dust powder to thicken it. If it clumps on your brush, add more drops of extract to thin the mixture.

From: Heather Baird

Step 5: Paint the Cake

Using an artist brush, cover the entire cake with paint. Mix more paint as needed. Use a dabbing motion with your brush to get into all the nooks and crannies between the confetti sprinkles. Lightly brush the top of the cake with paint, blotting the excess with a paper towel.

From: Heather Baird

Step 6: Stencil Bottom Tier

For this tier, you'll need one white fondant-covered cake (larger than the sequin tier), a plastic stencil with Art Deco motif and the rose gold paint used previously. Directions: Gently but firmly hold the stencil to the side of the cake. If you have trouble holding it with one hand, ask a helper to assist you. Dip a 1-inch artist brush in the paint and lightly brush over the stencil. Remove the stencil to reveal the image. Wash and dry the stencil between each use to avoid paint smears. Allow the cake to stand until dry, at least one hour.

From: Heather Baird

Step 7: Paint Top Layer, Assemble

For the top tier, lightly brush a small fondant-cover cake with rose gold paint and tap dry with a paper towel. Using dowel rods for stability, carefully stack each cake layer. Learn how to assemble a wedding cake >>

From: Heather Baird

Design #2: Buttercream Watercolor & Geode Cake

As much as we all love the beautifully-smooth appearance of rolled fondant, buttercream is arguably more delicious. This technique uses buttercream in various hues to achieve a dreamy watercolor effect. For a large cake, you’ll need 3 cups of vanilla buttercream fondant, food coloring in your favorite hues, an offset spatula and a bench scraper or other frosting smoothing tool. Frosting smoothers can be found at most cake supply shops or in the baking aisle at your local craft store.

From: Heather Baird

Step 1: Add Color to Frosting

Divide your frosting batch into four equal portions. Tint three portions with desired food colors, leaving one portion white. Cover each portion with a damp paper towel so the frosting doesn’t dry out or crust.

From: Heather Baird

Step 2: Add Colors to Cake

Use an offset spatula to randomly place small swipes of color around the outside of the cake. But don’t overdo it! Be sure to leave visible areas of white frosting. 

From: Heather Baird

Step 3: Blur the Color

Gently drag a bench scraper or smoothing tool across the frosting, smoothing the surface as you turn the cake. If you find you have too much color on your cake, add dots of the untinted frosting to the cake and smooth again. 

From: Heather Baird

Quick Tip

Repeat the process for additional cake layers. Smaller layers can be smoothed with the edge of an offset spatula as shown. 

From: Heather Baird

Step 4: Choose Your Geodes

Choose geodes that compliment your color palette. Amethyst crystals are beautiful and widely available. You can find them for purchase in home goods stores and online. Rinse them with water before using.

From: Heather Baird

Step 5: Apply Geodes to Cake

Place a small square of waxed paper or glassine bakery paper onto the cake before applying the geode. Although the geode has been washed, the paper will further ensure that unseen or missed debris will not sully the cake’s surface.

From: Heather Baird

Step 6: Adorn & Adore

Here we’ve used just one geode piece to embellish the cake, but you can use as many as you like.

From: Heather Baird

Design #3: Fruit, Floral & Gold Leaf Buttercream

It’s hard to top the beauty of fresh flowers and gorgeous in-season fruit – unless you add sparkle! Edible gold leaf is a simple way, stunning way to up the interest of a plain buttercream cake. You can find it for purchase online. You won’t need much for this project, only two 4x4 sheets to cover a two-tier (6 and 8-inch) cake. Be sure to use flowers and greenery that are organic and nontoxic. Consult your local florist to source flowers that are safe to use on your wedding cake.

From: Heather Baird

Step 1: Ready Your Supplies

Thoroughly wash and dry flowers and fruit and have a small artist brush and gold leaf on the ready. If you’ve never handled gold leaf before, then use extreme care when opening its package. It is very thin and will waver and blow away with the slightest breath or air from a close HVAC vent.

From: Heather Baird

Step 2: Add Gold Leaf

Make sure the cake you are decorating is well-chilled and the frosting is firm before applying the gold leaf. Use the end of the paintbrush to pick up a small piece of gold leaf and touch it to the cake’s surface — it should naturally adhere to the frosting. Press it flat with a finger or with the end of the paintbrush. Avoid pressing too hard or you’ll pock the surface of the buttercream.

From: Heather Baird

Step 3: Repeat

Continue to place gold leaf sparsely all over the cake using the end of the paintbrush. If you find the paintbrush to be awkward to control, then new (unused) tweezers may also be used to apply the leafing.

From: Heather Baird

Step 4: Prep Flowers

Cover the stems of the greenery and flowers with plastic wrap before inserting them into the cake. This will prevent the plants from seeping moisture into the cake. This is an important step because even though the plants used are nontoxic, their stems could impart a bitter flavor. 

From: Heather Baird

Step 5: Adorn With Flowers

Insert greenery and florals into the cake as desired, preferably along the seam of the two tiers and as a beautiful addition to the cake topper.

From: Heather Baird

Step 6: Add Fresh Fruit

Add fresh fruit, like this gorgeous pomegranate half, as a cake topper. Fresh figs, starfruit and berries are also good choices.

From: Heather Baird

Need-to-Know Tips

Fruit and flowers should be added no more than an hour before the ceremony to ensure freshness. Remove flowers and fruit as needed when slicing the cake for service.

From: Heather Baird

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