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7 Cake Decorations WITHOUT Smooth Frosting

Smooth frosting is the number one challenge of most cake decorators. Avoid it with these seven ideas for cake decorations without smooth frosting!

#1 Cover a cake with sprinkles

For this first technique, spread some frosting onto your cake but don't worry about making it perfectly smooth. Put your cake in the fridge for 15 minutes so that it firms up a bit. Then put it on a tray or a baking sheet. Scoop up some sprinkles and press them into the cake and they'll stick to the frosting.

how to cover a cake with sprinkles for cake decorations

Since the frosting has chilled and started to set in the fridge, it won't be super soft so the sprinkles won't sink into it and get buried and hidden. The tray will catch any bouncing sprinkles so you don't have a huge mess to clean up afterwards. The cake will look so neat and pretty without needing to make the frosting perfectly smooth. I find that non pareils or hundreds and thousands work best for this technique because they're so tiny that they don't add a lot of texture to the cake when you bite into it.

sprinkle cake

# 2 Wrap a cake in chocolate

Chocolate collars or wraps conceal frosting completely so it doesn't matter if there are lots of imperfections in it. You can do this with parchment paper or wax paper or baking paper. Cut the paper into a strip that's long enough to wrap around the cake and as tall as the cake. You can use the paper as it is or scrunch it up to create some texture. Melt chocolate in the microwave using 50% power for 30 seconds at a time and stir until it's smooth. Spread it to cover the paper completely.

how to wrap a cake with chocolate cake decorations

Slide your hands underneath the paper to pick it up while it's still melted and wrap it around the cake. The cake should have a thin layer of frosting to cover it to seal in the moisture but it doesn't need to be neat.

how to make a chocolate collar cake

Press the melted chocolate against the cake to attach it. Then put the cake in the fridge for about 30 minutes to set the chocolate.

chocolate wrap cake decorations

Pinch a corner of the paper and peel it away to leave the pretty chocolate wrap behind! You can decorate this with chocolates or flowers on top and a ribbon tied around it if you like.

white chocolate wrap collar cake

#3 Textured frosting

Instead of hiding the frosting on a cake because it's not smooth, add texture to it so that it doesn't need to be smooth! You can do this using the back of a spoon or an offset spatula. Press it gently against the cake while you spin it on a turntable, starting at the bottom of the cake. You'll leave grooves in the sides of the frosting.

textured frosting cake decorations

Pull up slowly to drag those grooves all the way up the cake. You can do this vertically instead, pulling upwards. This is a good choice if you don't have a turntable because you don't need the cake to be spinning smoothly as you do this. This is my 4 Minute Buttercream and it takes on texture so nicely!

spoon texture in frosting on cake

Use random movements instead to create beautiful rustic texture with these little arcs. Any of these textures not only avoids smooth frosting, it also creates a stunning base for any other decorations you add to your cake.

avoid smooth frosting with textured cake decorations

#4 Piped cake decorations

For more defined texture use piping bags and piping tips and as many colours as you like. For the best results, spread a thin layer of frosting over the cake first. This seals it to prevent it from drying out even if there are gaps between the texture you pipe.

piped texture on a cake

I'm using pastel rainbow colours for this cake with a different texture for each row. This adds lots of colour and texture and variety but using the same piping tip for the whole cake can look gorgeous too.

piping frosting onto a cake

This is a petal tip with the narrow end of the tip pointing upwards to make these wavy ruffles. Check out my tutorial on 15 piping hacks for cake decorations!

#5 Edible cake decorations with full coverage of berries

Cover your frosting completely with fruit or chocolates or candies. Choose cake decorations that are all the same size and that don't stick out too much from the cake, otherwise their weight might cause them to slide down the sides of the cake. If you've just frosted the cake and the frosting is still soft the decorations will stick to that frosting easily.

how to cover a cake with berries or fruit

Arrange them in diagonal rows to completely cover the cake. The neatest way to do this is to choose an order, for example: raspberry, blueberry, blackberry. With so much fruit on this cake, it's almost healthy!

cake decorations using fruit or berries

#6 Naked cakes

Skip the frosting on your cake completely with a naked cake. Make sure this doesn't dry out by drizzling the layers with simple syrup to keep them moist. Make simple syrup by putting half a cup of water and half a cup of sugar in a pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Then let it cool.

how to use simple syrup to keep cakes moist so they dont dry out

You can spread or pipe your filling but piping it will give you the neatest results. This is my 4 Minute Buttercream and a 1M star tip:

piping cake decorations onto a naked cake

After the cake is assembled you'll see the colourful texture showing through between the layers. The cake will be beautiful as well as delicious! Even better, you've saved yourself the time of frosting the outside of the cake.

naked cake with piped filling and no smooth frosting

#7 Tray bake cakes with piped cake decorations

Here's another design that doesn't need any frosting to be spread or smoothed. Bake your cake in a pretty dish and choose some piping tips and colours of frosting. I like to tint small amounts in a cupcake pan because it's much easier to wash this than lots of little bowls.

mixing buttercream colours in a cupcake pan

Pipe randomly onto the cake or outline a design with a toothpick and then pipe within that.

piping onto a tray bake cake in a casserole dish or baking dish or pie dish

The piped details make this cake design pretty and intricate without taking much time and without needing to get any frosting smooth.

tray bay cake with piped cake decorations

I hope you've seen some ideas you like! Tell me in the comments which is your favourite idea and visit my cake school to learn hundreds of cake decorating techniques and designs.

You can also watch a video of this tutorial on 7 cake decorations without smooth frosting:

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