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5 Minute Cake Decorating: Spatula Painting

Let’s decorate a cake in five minutes! Use a simple technique with just an offset spatula to paint a colorful design onto a cake.

If you prefer to watch a video of this tutorial, scroll to the bottom of the page.

First, prepare your colour palette. Your “paint” will be buttercream! Check consistency of your buttercream before you start mixing and it should be easy to stir and spread. This is my 4 Minute Buttercream.

buttercream consistency for painting on cake 5 Minute Cake Decorating Spatula Painting

I like to use a cupcake pan as a pallet because it keeps all of the colors separate and it’s easy to mix them in one of these. You don’t have to use all 12 cups – I’m just going to use nine for this cake. Since you only need a very small amount of buttercream for each colour, just one drop of gel will create very bright and bold colours.

use a cupcake pan as a palette for buttercream painting 5 Minute Cake Decorating Spatula Painting

I tend to gravitate to the same colours for my cakes so choosing a color palette online by googling “colour palette” forces me out of my comfort zone to try new colour combinations, which I almost always end up loving!

how to spatula paint on cakes with buttercream 5 Minute Cake Decorating Spatula Painting

Now that your colours are ready, it’s time to paint a cake! The frosting on your cake needs to have set, so that you can apply pressure to it without damaging it. I put this cake in the fridge for an hour to chill and set the frosting.

paint on cakes after the frosting has set 5 Minute Cake Decorating Spatula Painting

You’ll need an offset spatula (also called an angled palette knife) and using a small one like this will allow you to create more detail than using a big one. Lower the tip of your offset spatula down into one of your colours and drag away sideways to  leave a small amount of that colour on the blade. 

spatula painting on cakes 5 Minute Cake Decorating Spatula Painting

Press the tip of the offset spatula against the very bottom of the side of the cake and pull it up the side of the cake until you feel that there isn’t any “paint” left in between your offset spatula and the cake. You can swipe a few times until you’re happy with the texture and coverage. Swipe it away and then dip it into the next colour and repeat the spreading motion upwards.

spread buttercream onto cake with offset spatula 5 Minute Cake Decorating Spatula Painting

Before changing colour, wipe your offset spatula clean on a paper towel so that you don’t drag your first colour into the next colour, and that will keep the colours more distinct.

wipe offset spatula on towel or paper towel between colours 5 Minute Cake Decorating Spatula Painting

What’s nice about painting onto a cake when the frosting has sent is that if you paint anywhere you don’t want to paint you can scrape that off with your offset spatula without damaging the frosting underneath.

scrape mistakes off frosting with offset spatula 5 Minute Cake Decorating Spatula Painting

Paint onto the cake again and again to go all the way round the bottom of the cake. Always start with the tip of your offset spatula resting down on the cake board and that will make sure that you’re covering up the very bottom of the cake. You can vary the height that you paint upwards each time – you don’t have to try to make it all identical because the irregularities of this design are what makes it so beautiful. Try adding random “swooshes” of paint higher up on the cake, too.

paint onto a cake using buttercream 5 Minute Cake Decorating Spatula Painting

To add even more texture you can press sprinkles into the paint, and it’s easiest to do this straight after you’ve painted the cake so that the buttercream “paint” is still soft and sticky and then the sprinkles will attach easily.

press sprinkles onto buttercream paint 5 Minute Cake Decorating Spatula Painting

The quickest way to add sprinkles is to dip your finger into water, shake off the excess or dab it on a paper towel so your finger is just damp, not wet, and then press your finger into the sprinkles and they’ll stick to the moisture on your finger. Press your finger into the paint and the sprinkles will stick to that instead of your finger.

add sprinkles to decorate painted cake 5 Minute Cake Decorating Spatula Painting

For my next 5 minute cake decorating video I’m going to choose a tool chosen by YOU – comment below with your tool suggestions and I’ll pick one to get creative with!

If you’ve enjoyed this tutorial you’ll LOVE my classes, where I teach unique cake designs broken down into four manageable steps in less than 20 minutes of video modules. Join my ClubPLUS for access to every class and course on my online cake school!

painted buttercream cake 5 Minute Cake Decorating Spatula Painting

Here’s the video version of this tutorial:

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