6 Festive Cake Decorating Techniques
Some of the most creatively designed baked goods make an appearance during the holidays. The rich colors and joyful spirit of the season seem to manifest in the sweet stuff hitting dessert tables. Here are some of our favorite festive decorating techniques for both small and large cakes that are easy for even novice bakers to pull off.
Many holiday hosts are moving starting to serve smaller, bite-sized sweets like cupcakes and cake squares. Not to worry, there’s plenty you can do to dress up cake with smaller “real estate”:
- Gingerbread Men – A classic symbol of the holidays, gingerbread men are a simple and fun accent you can add to even the smallest cake square. Bake them yourself or buy them at the store, depending on how much time you have. Then, place one of these smiling men flat on top of the dessert or dig his feet into the icing so he’s standing upright. Add some red and green sprinkles around him for extra flair.
- Santa’s Hat – Think it would be fun to mimic Santa’s hat? Using cream-cheese frosting or whipped cream, create a fluffy, circular foundation atop your smaller cake. Then, pipe red frosting on top of the foundation in a conical shape. Finally, add a small dollop of whip cream to the tip of the hat.
- Snowmen – Easy and popular with kids, build snowmen on top of your small cakes. Use icing to glue two large marshmallows together, and then poke a toothpick into the bottom marshmallow and stick it into the middle of the cake square. Also using icing as an adhesive, add a chocolate bell, Dots gummy, or Hershey’s Kiss to the top marshmallow as a hat. Take another toothpick and poke holes in the marshmallows for arms, eyes, a nose, and buttons. Insert pretzels sticks for the arms, chocolate jimmy sprinkles or edible silver balls for the eyes and buttons, and a sliver of an orange Dot or other gummy candy for the nose.
For larger, tiered cakes, you have some more room to play with. Here are three ideas that look great but are incredibly easy to execute:
- Natural Elements – For a clean and fresh look, buy some rosemary springs and arrange them around the top and sides of the cake to mimic a pine tree. Plain vanilla buttercream can also be mounded and swirled around the springs to look like snow drifts.
- Fruits and Nuts – Glazing a holiday cake is a simple and delicious way to add festivity to the presentation. Place cranberries, figs, pecans, brazil nuts, and any other fruit or nuts that would offer complementary flavors to the top of the cake. Get creative with the design – align them in rows, circles, etc. Then, glaze the top with jam (apricot is particularly tasty) using a pastry brush.
- Gift Wrap – Design your cake look like a festive present by making a large, red bow from something edible. You can use Red Vines, Fruit Roll-Ups, or even Sour Patch Belts. Place the bow on top of the cake and then circle the cake with another strip of whatever candy you chose for the bow. Add red sprinkles or glitter to the top for some extra shine.
What are your best cake decorating ideas for the holidays? Share them with us in the comments below!