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Free Cake Decorating MasterCourse | British Girl Bakes
Free MasterCourse
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Free Cake Decorating MasterCourse | British Girl Bakes

Why would you want to know how to freeze a cake? Well, there are several steps to making a cake: baking, assembling, frosting, and decorating. Sometimes it’s not possible to fit all of that into the day before an occasion or event. In this tutorial I’m going to show you how to make a cake in advance and how to freeze a cakefor months without sacrificing the flavour or the appearance.

how to freeze a cake

After finishing your cake, put the whole thing into the freezer. Make sure there’s a big enough flat space so that the cake is level. Also check that there's nothing touching it around the sides. Leave it in the freezer for one hour like this.

Meanwhile, lay out four pieces of plastic wrap like saran wrap or cling film. Make an asterisk shape, crossing the pieces over opposite each other so that they all overlap in the middle. The pieces need to be about three times longer than the width of your cake. If your cake is 8 inches like mine, you’ll need each piece of plastic wrap to be about 24 inches or 6cm long. 

how to wrap a cake to freeze it

After an hour, take your cake out of the freezer and place it in the middle of this plastic wrap. If you touch the frosting it should be very firm, not sticky, and this coldness will protect the frosted cake. I use my 4 Minute Buttercream for all of my cakes and it freezes wonderfully!

Fold each piece of the plastic wrap over the cake. The reason for using so many pieces is because the cake needs to be completely sealed. This way none of the moisture of the freezer can get to it.

how to wrap a cake before freezing

If the cake isn’t sealed properly, condensation droplets will form on the outside of the frosting which will make the colours of the frosting and decorations run. It can also change the flavour of your frosting.

The hour that you left the cake unwrapped in the freezer isn’t long enough for any moisture in the freezer to cling to the cake or affect it. However, it is long enough to make the frosting very firm. Now it won't get damaged by the pressure of the plastic wrap being wrapped around it. The wrapped cake can go back into the freezer for up to two months!

How to Freeze cakes

24 hours before serving the cake, take it out of the freezer. This next step is very important: move it to the fridge. Then 2-4 hours before serving it, take it out and put it on the counter or table.

how to refrigerate cakes

Putting the cake in the fridge is ESSENTIAL. If you move a cake straight from the freezer to room temperature, the drastic change in temperature will cause condensation all over the frosting. Any colour you’ve used in the decorations will run down the cake and stain it. That's what happened after moving this cake from the freezer to room temperature without the fridge step in the middle to let the cake thaw gradually:

condensation on cakes in freezer

Leave the plastic wrap on the cake for 30 minutes to an hour after talking it out of the fridge. This will prevent condensation as the cake warms up to room temperature. After 30 minutes to an hour the frosting will still be firm. That means that when you unwrap the cake, you won’t damage it as you peel the plastic wrap off.

fixing a cake after freezing

At this point you can add any final details, like anything metallic which would lose its shine in the freezer. You can also do any touchups, like this piped line up here which I must have knocked in the freezer. Now the cake is ready to transport or serve!

freezing a cake

I hope this tutorial has been useful! For more tips and tricks and HUNDREDS of cake decorating techniques and designs, visit my cake school on

You can also watch a video of this tutorial on how to freeze a cake:

Let's make a buttercream pirate ship cake with no special tools!

Prepare a single cake or tier cake

You can make this pirate ship design on a single cake or on a two-tier cake. I'm alternating layers of my Very Vanilla and Perfect Chocolate Cake for a two tier cake. The bottom tier is an 8 inch cake and then on top is a six inch cake.

crumb coating a tier cake

For a tier cake, the top cake needs to be on a cake board the same size as that cake. The purpose of this is to support the cake so it doesn't sink into the bottom cake. The reason for it being the same size is so that it's invisible after you frost the cake.

how to stack a tier cake

The taller this cake is the more room you'll have so the bigger you can make your pirate ship. Start by covering both cakes with a crumb coat. This is a thin layer of frosting to trap any crumbs that come off the cake so that they don't get into your final layer of frosting. I'm using my 4 Minute Buttercream to fill and frost these cakes.

Make an ocean cake

I'm turning the bottom cake into an ocean with a very easy and very quick technique. Frost the top of the cake with a light shade of teal or turquoise. To tint buttercream I use gels, which are very concentrated so you only need a drop to make bold colours.

Put this same colour into a piping bag with a petal piping tip. Pipe a ruffle around the top of the cake so that it sticks up above the tope edge. If you don't have a petal piping tip you can just spread this colour straight onto the cake. You'll get all of the beautiful ocean colours, just without the texture.

how to use a petal tip for ruffles

Petal tips look like teardrops and when you pipe through them. The narrow part makes ruffles but the wider part doesn't. For this cake you'll want the wide part of the petal tip or teardrop to point downwards, angled slightly towards the cake. This way, the wider piping will stick to the cake. Point the narrow part upwards and slightly away from the cake, which makes ruffles that look like waves.

how to make buttercream ruffles

I'm adding another drop of gel to my bowl of buttercream and putting that darker colour into the piping bag. Now the waves get darker as the ocean gets deeper, lower down on the cake. The slower you pull the bag and the more you wiggle your wrist, the wavier the piping will be.

This technique is very forgiving! If you need to pause to push the buttercream lower down into the piping bag, when you start piping again the join of the ruffles will disappear into the texture on the cake. It's not a precise technique so have fun with it to create this whimsical effect. You can smooth any messy parts of the piping with an offset spatula.

To hold up the next cake tier you'll need some supports. Use a cake board the same size as the next cake to draw around. This circle will show you where the next cake will sit eventually. Then poke boba straws or dowels into the bottom cake, cutting them to be the same height as that cake. I'm using four straws for this eight inch cake, spaced equally around the cake. Make sure they're at least an inch within the circle you drew so that they're underneath the top cake.

using straws to stack a tier cake

Put this cake in the fridge while you frost the top cake, the one that will have the pirate ship on it.

Frost a pirate ship cake

To create a sky effect use white and blue buttercream. Ideally, you'll have three shades. Spread dollops of those colours onto the cake to almost cover the sides.

watercolour frosting

The crumb coat needs to have set so that these colours don't mix into it. I set my crumb coats by putting the cake into the fridge for 30 minutes. Keep in mind that if the cake is cold from the fridge, you'll need to frost it quite quickly. Otherwise, these blobs of buttercream will chill and set and be difficult to spread. Scrape around the cake with a cake comb or frosting smoother or icing scraper. The colours will blend together and look like a cloudy sky.

watercolour frosting cake

After a few scrapes, spread more buttercream to fill in any indents, where the frosting isn't as thick as on the rest of the cake. Then scrape again until the frosting is smooth. You can leave the top edge uneven or level it with your offset spatula. Put this cake into the fridge for an hour or the freezer for 30 minutes to set the frosting. Now it's ready for the pirate ship!

Decorate a pirate ship cake with homemade stencils

Draw or trace or print out a pirate ship on a piece of paper. Keep it to a simple outline for the best results. Then put a piece of parchment or wax paper on top and trace the brown details only. This will be the hull (the curved part at the bottom!) and the masts. Pencil works best for drawing onto parchment paper because of the non-stick surface.

how to make a stencil for a pirate cake

Then on another piece trace the white details, which are the sails. Onto another piece, trace the black details, which are the pirate flag and the porthole. Finally, trace the skull and crossbones onto another piece.

Now cut out the shapes from each of your pieces of parchment paper. Cut along the outline to leave the outer part intact, which you'll use as a stencil next. Take your time to cut a neat outline because if you cut a jagged line or a wonky shape, that's what you'll end up with on your pirate ship cake.

making stencils for a pirate cake

Each piece of parchment should have an inch or two of paper all around the cut out part of the design. This border will protect the rest of the cake from unwanted smudges of buttercream. The exception is the pirate ship because the boat will sit right at the bottom of the cake so you don't need any paper below it.

pirate ship cake stencil

Take your cake out of the fridge or freezer and press the biggest boat stencil against it. After about a minute some tiny drops of condensation will form on the cake because it's warmer out of the fridge or freezer. Those droplets will help the stencil to stick to the cake. Spread brown buttercream all over the boat shape that you cut out. Spread inwards towards the middle of the cutout shape rather than outwards because that might spread buttercream underneath the parchment paper, causing smudges around the outside of the outline of the shape.

how to use parchment paper stencils on a pirate ship cake

Smooth the brown frosting with an offset spatula or cake comb. Parchment paper and wax paper are great because they're cheap and you can make any shape of stencil you like very quickly. However, because the paper is very thin and flimsy, it's easy for it to stick to the frosting on your offset spatula or cake comb and pull away from the cake. To avoid this, spread gently and use slow movements. If the stencil does pull away, reposition it.

homemade stencils on a pirate ship cake

Peel the stencil off to leave your shape behind. Use a toothpick to gently scrape off any smudges, which works because the blue frosting on the cake has chilled and set so you won't damage it.

Use the edge of your cake comb to score some lines in the buttercream to mark out different sections of the boat and planks of wood. A toothpick is a great tool to mark the shorter ends of the planks and to draw little nails that you see in shiplap. Now put the cake into the fridge for 30 minutes or the freezer for 15 minutes to set this brown frosting.

Press another stencil onto the cake and spread buttercream over that, scraping off the excess to leave a thin layer behind. For portholes, a thin layer looks best because you don't want the windows to look like they're sticking out from the wooden boat. For some shapes like the sails, a thicker layer of buttercream is better because the blue frosting underneath would show through a thin layer of such a light colour of frosting.

Keep your toothpick handy for touch-ups after each stencil.

using a toothpick to make a buttercream cake stencil neater

Put the cake back into the fridge or freezer after each stencil to set that colour before pressing on the next stencil.

How to stack a tier cake

Any time after stenciling on the big brown boat you can stack your cakes if you're making a tier cake. Both cakes need to be cold so that the frosting is firm. Spread some fresh frosting onto the bottom cake within the circle you drew. Then slide an offset spatula or cake lifter underneath the top tier, lifting it on its little cake board. Lower it onto the bottom cake and adjust it to center it.

The cakes need to be cold so that you can touch the frosting without damaging it. Now it's time to cover up the join between the two tiers. Use some of that lightest shade of turquoise from the ocean part of the cake with your petal tip. Hold the wider part of the tip against the bottom of the cake to pipe a wave. You can pipe a few more if there's space on top of the bottom cake.

piping ruffle waves with a petal tip on a pirate cake

Just like with the other ruffles, the more you wiggle your wrist, the wavier your piping will be. I like to start piping at the side of the cake because that's typically the most subtle place to hide the start and finish of each row of piping. Everyone looks at the front of the cake and if you're singing happy birthday and letting someone blow out a candle on the cake, everyone gathered around will be looking at the back of the cake but no one really stares at the side side of a cake!

 pirate ship two tier cake

Finish decorating the pirate ship

You only need a tiny bit of buttercream for the pirate flag and a few drops of black gel. Making a dark gray is fine because the gel will develop and the colour will darken a few shades. Let that set in the fridge before using your final stencil, the skull and crossbones.

skull and crossbones cake

Just like with the white sails, it's a good idea to spread this thickly so it doesn't end up looking gray over the black buttercream underneath. With a thicker layer of frosting the stencil edges do tend to be messier so smooth them with a toothpick.

I forgot to mark the masts on the ship but it's fine to do this either immediately after stenciling, while the buttercream is still soft or after chilling the cake, when the buttercream has set.

pirate cake with no tools british girl bakes

And there it is! A pirate cake made with no fancy cake tools, just some paper stencils that you can make yourself very easily quickly and affordably.

I hope this tutorial has been useful. Visit my cake school to learn hundreds more cake decorating techniques and designs.

You can also watch a video of this pirate ship cake tutorial:

Square cakes are notoriously tricky to frost so in this tutorial I'm going to show you how to frost a square cake with smooth sides and sharp edges using no special tools!

How to assemble a square cake

First, choose a cake board big enough for your cake. You'll need at least two inches around the edges of the cake for frosting and decorations and to grip onto. Use a dot of buttercream to attach your first layer of cake onto the cake board. I'm using my Very Vanilla Cake. Then add your filling.

piping filling onto a square cake

This is my 4 Minute Buttercream. You can spread it straight on or pipe it on first, which is quicker and neater. Spread the filling up to the edges of the cake to cover the top completely.

layering a square cake

Place your next cake layer on top and repeat to assemble your cake.

I really recommend chilling your cake layers before you assemble your cake. Cold cake layers are much easier to work with than when they're at room temperature. I'm using the extra cake scraps from the end of the sheet cake to add an extra layer to my cake. To do this, pipe or spread buttercream between the pieces to attach them together.

how to make a square cake with a sheet cake

After assembling your cake, spread around the cake with an offset spatula so no filling bulges out.

If your cake layers are cold you can frost this cake straight away. If not, put the cake into the fridge for an hour or the freezer for 30 minutes.

How to crumb coat a square cake

If you're wondering how to frost a square cake without crumbs, the answer is a crumb coat. This is a very thin layer of frosting that traps any crumbs that come off the cake so that they don't get through into your final layer of frosting.

crumb coat on a square cake

This crumb coat does not need to be neat because it's going to be completely covered up in a moment. However, it does need to cover all of the cake so that there's none exposed.

crumb coating a square cake

You don't want any of this frosting to stick out around the edges of the cake or above the top edge of the cake. If there are bulges, when you chill this before adding your final layer of frosting they'll get cold and hard and be difficult to frost over. Use your offset spatula to push the buttercream over each edge to leave a fairly neat square shape.

how to crumb coat a square cake

Put the cake in the fridge for 30 minutes or the freezer for 15 minutes to set this crumb coat.

Make a square template

Have you seen the acrylic discs you can buy for round and square cakes? They're effective but expensive! Make your own by using any piece of cardboard and a ruler.

Measure and draw a square the same size as your cake plus two centimeters. This will allow for one centimeter of frosting on each side of the cake. If you prefer to work in inches, add one inch. Cut the square out and put it on a piece of parchment paper a few inches bigger than the square.

wrap a cardboard square with parchment paper

Wrap the parchment paper tightly around the cardboard as if you're wrapping a present. This makes it non-stick and also food safe, which is important because it's going to touch your cake. Be really generous with tape to attach the parchment paper! Parchment paper is non-stick so tape isn't as effective as it would be on normal paper.

homemade acryilic discs for square cakes

Attach the template to the cake

When the crumb coat has set, spoon a big dollop of frosting onto the top of the cake. Spread it so that it completely covers the top of the cake and sticks out over the edges. This is very important to get those nice sharp angles from the sides onto the top of the cake later.

how to frost the top of a square cake

Lower your cardboard square onto this frosting on top of the cake. Adjust it to center it so that there is the same amount sticking out on every side of the cake. Then push down to attach it.

center cardboard square on top of cake

How to frost a square cake

Now spread frosting around the sides of the cake, completely covering it up. You're aiming for an even thickness of frosting all over the cake. Spread the frosting all the way up so it sticks up above the top edge and all the way down to the cake board. Make sure the frosting sticks out over the edges of the sides of the cake for sharp angles later.

frost the sides of the square cake

Now switch to a cake comb and scrape from one edge to the other. You'll immediately see air pockets where the frosting isn't as thick as it is over the rest of the cake.

how to smooth the sides of a square cake

Spread more buttercream over those areas or air pockets and then scrape again. The extra buttercream will fill in the gaps and your cake comb will scrape off the excess.

fill in holes in frosting

You'll find what works best for you here. I like to do most of my scrapes towards myself but also switch to scrape away from yourself. This feels very awkward but it will give you the sharpest angles on the sides of your cake.

smooth frosting on a square cake

This is quite a tedious process. It takes a long time to get very smooth sides and sharp edges all around the cake. It's much slower than frosting a round cake! If you run out of time and need to take a break or if you get frustrated because you can't get your sides any smoother or your edges any sharper, pause. Try this quick hack!

Square cake hack

After getting the frosting as smooth as you can, here's a quick way to get it even smoother. Put the whole cake into the fridge for at least an hour. Cover your frosting bowl with cling film or Saran Wrap so it stays soft. When you take the cake out of the fridge, the frosting will be firm which is useful for this. Now with just another very thin layer of frosting you can get very smooth sides and very sharp edges.

smooth sides on a square cake

This works because this final very thin layer of frosting sits on top of the cold frosting so it will chill very quickly. As it chills, it sets, and as you scrape the excess it will fill in any gaps in the cold frosting underneath it, leaving a smooth surface on top.

how to get smooth frosting on a square cake

Frosting sets very quickly on a cold cake and when it does, you'll tear the buttercream as you scrape. If this happens, dip your cake comb into hot water or if it's a metal cake comb you can run a blowtorch up and down the edge. Scrape again and the hot comb will glide over the buttercream. You might find that scraping upwards from the cake board to the top of the cake will help smooth out any final texture in your frosting.

Remove the template

Final step: use a very sharp knife to slice just underneath the cardboard template. You'll separate the parchment-wrapped cardboard from the frosted cake. It will be easy to lift the square off and you'll leave sharp edges around the top of the cake.

how to remove a square acrylic disc

You might need to fill in any indents or air pockets on the top of the cake, where the cardboard didn't press all the way down onto the frosting you initially spread there. Since the top edges of the cake are so firm, they'll hold their shape even as you spread and smooth this extra frosting.

how to smooth frosting after removing square acrylic disc
how to frost a square cake british girl bakes

So without any special tools you can bake, assemble and frost a square cake with smooth frosting and sharp edges! I hope this tutorial has been useful. If you enjoyed it, visit my cake school to learn hundreds of cake decorating techniques and designs.

You can watch a video of this tutorial on how to frost a square cake here:

If you watched my cake videos on British Airways inflight entertainment and want a reminder of the steps to make any of the cakes, you've come to the right place! Below you'll find links to the step by step tutorials for all of my videos of British Airways. Happy caking!

8 ways to decorate cakes without fancy tools tutorial - British Girl Bakes

8 Ways to Decorate Cakes without Fancy Tools

6 parchment paper cake decorating hacks tutorial british girl bakes

6 Parchment Paper Cake Hacks

8 quick frosting techniques for cakes british girl bakes

8 Quick Frosting Techniques

half and half cake british girl bakes

Half and Half Cakes

11 quick fixes for cake mistakes british girl bakes

11 Quick Fixes for Cake Mistakes

gingerbread house cake british girl bakes

Let's Make a Gingerbread House Cake!

Mission: make a gingerbread house cake using only cake and buttercream! Traditional gingerbread houses can take forever to make and lining up gingerbread walls is tricky. Using cake and buttercream is less fiddly and spoiler alert: it’s delicious to eat at the end!

Prepare the cake layers

Although this gingerbread house cake looks complicated to make, you only need minimal tools. You’ll need a rectangular pan to make 3 sheet cakes of whatever size you choose. This is my Perfect Chocolate Cake and the cakes 9 x 13 inches.

sheet cakes for sculpted gingerbread house cake

Wrap the cakes in cling film or plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least an hour. When they're cold, they’re easier to work with. Meanwhile, choose two cardboard cake boards at least as big as your cakes. Mine are rectangular and measure 10 x 14 inches. On the first one, measure out your cake draw it onto the board. Divide it in half along the longest side to make two identical rectangles, each one half the size of your cake.

how to cut cake boards for a tier or double barrel cake

Cut these out and these will be the cake boards for the house and roof of your cake. I’ll explain why they’re really important in a minute. 

Start by unwrapping two of your cakes. Use a serrated knife like a bread knife to cut them both in half along the longest side to make two identical rectangles. You'll four half cakes now, which will make up the body of the gingerbread house cake.

cut two sheet cakes in half to make 4 layers for gingerbread house cake

For the third cake, cut it in half. Then cut one of those halves in half again, and half of that into two pieces, one a bit bigger than the other. These four pieces will all be the roof.

cut a sheet cake into four pieces to make a gingerbread house roof

How to assemble a gingerbread house cake

Prepare your filling and your icing or frosting. I’m using my 4 Minute Buttercream, stirring in some melted chocolate chips. This makes a rich and creamy chocolate buttercream, which goes really well with my Perfect Chocolate Cake.

The easiest way to fill your cake is with a piping bag because it's much quicker and neater than spreading. Use a dot of buttercream in the middle of each of your cake boards to attach the first layer of cake. This will be one of the halves you cut out.

assemble the house and roof cakes on cake boards

Let’s build the body of the house first. Pipe a border of filling around the cake and fill that with some zig zags. Spread it around to completely cover to top of the cake. Lower another half of cake down on top, adjusting it so it’s directly on top of the cake layer below. This will give your gingerbread house cake straight sides. Repeat, alternating cake and filing and finishing with a fourth half of cake.

cakes layers for gingerbread house cake

Trim down each side to take off any pieces that are sticking out, leaving four flat sides on the cake.

If your cake layers are still cold you can ice or frost them straight away. Place the cake on a cake board that's ideally as large as your turntable. Now spread buttercream all over the top and sides of the cake. Push it over the side edges so that it sticks out and this way, when you smooth it you’ll make nice sharp edges or corners. 

crumb coat a gingerbread house cake

Put this into the fridge while you finish building the roof.

Assemble the roof

Now you'll need the other cake board that has one half of cake on. Pipe filling along the middle of that first cake layer and put the next biggest piece of cake of that. Add more filling and then the smallest or narrowest piece. For the final piece, cut it in half but slice diagonally downwards, to make two triangles.

cut diagonally to make two triangular wedges to make a sloped rood cake

Pipe or spread some buttercream along each of the sides of the middle layer of cake and along the cake just below that. This buttercream will stick on the triangular wedges of cake to make a slanted roof.

how to carve a roof cake

You’ll need to trim the rest of the cake to make a smooth straight slope going down on each side of the roof. Also trim the other sides of the roof so that they go straight down, with no cake or filling sticking out.

how to sculpt a gingerbread roof cake

Your carving doesn’t have to be perfect because next you’ll cover it with frosting to fill in any imperfections. This first layer of buttercream is called a crumb coat and it traps any crumbs that come off the cake. This means they won’t get into your next, final layer of frosting.

crumb coat a sculpted gingerbread roof cake

The crumb coat doesn’t need to be perfectly smooth and pretty but it needs to cover up all of the cake. You don't want any cake to be visible because that will allow crumbs to escape later. Put this roof of the gingerbread house cake into the fridge and take out the bottom part of the house.

Add supports to the bottom cake

It’s time to add some support to this house so that it can hold up the roof. I like to use boba straws, which are thicker and wider than normal straws. Wooden dowels work really well too.

how to add supports or dowels or straws to a tier cake

Push a straw or dowel into the middle of the cake, pushing down until it hits the cake board at the bottom. Pinch it where it sticks out above the cake, pull it up and cut it where you pinched it.

how to add supports to a tall gingerbread house cake

Hold this straw or dowel against four more, cutting each one to be the same height. Then push the middle one back in. Push the other four into the cake in a square, spaced evenly around the cake. These supports will hold up the cake board that the roof is sitting on, so that that roof cake doesn’t sink down into this bottom cake. That’s the reason for building the roof on a cake board. Without it, the roof cake would sink down onto these supports and crush the cake below. 

supports in tall gingerbread house cake

How to stack a tall gingerbread house cake

Spread some more buttercream on top of this cake to acts as glue. Then lift the roof cake on its cake board and lower it down onto the bottom cake.

how to assemble a gingerbread house cake

Adjust the roof to center it and push down to attach it to the buttercream 'glue'. You can touch the buttercream without damaging it because it’s been in the fridge so it's cold and firm.

How to frost a gingerbread house cake

Before frosting the cake, position the windows on the cake. Spread more buttercream wherever you want them to go and scrape off the excess. This will look smoother and prettier through the windows than the crumbly layer of buttercream underneath. 

spread buttercream wherever you want to place a window

Draw a window onto a piece of parchment or wax paper or baking paper. The window can be rectangular or square or arched like this. Fold the paper in half a few times and cut around the first window to make as many as you need. I’m using five for my cake. Very important: cut a slit in the middle of each one and I’ll show you why in a moment.

cut windows out of parchment paper

Press the paper windows onto the smooth buttercream patches on the cake. You can measure the height of the windows if you want to make sure they’re all positioned evenly. Although the buttercream will have set against the cold cake so it will be firm, not sticky, some condensation will have formed after taking the cake out of the cold fridge. If you press the paper gently against the buttercream, it will attach to those condensation droplets.

how to make windows on a gingerbread house cake

I’m making a pale pink gingerbread house, because… why not?! You can use orange food colouring with chocolate buttercream to make a gingerbread colour if you like. Spread or pipe the buttercream over each side of the cake, scraping over it with a cake comb. Spread more buttercream over any indents or air pockets and scrape again until it’s smooth.

smooth frosting on gingerbread house cake

Then use a toothpick to peel the paper windows off. Slide the toothpick into the slit in the window and pull outwards slowly. This is the reason you cut those slits in the middle of each paper window.

making windows on buttercream cake using parchment paper

The edges of the windows will have some texture because the final layer of frosting is fairly thick. It doesn't matter because we’ll cover the edges up soon.

Square cakes are much trickier than round cakes because of all of the angles around the sides. To make those angles sharp, spread the buttercream all the way over each edge. When it sticks out, your cake scraper will slice through the extra buttercream around each corner, leaving a 90 degree angle instead of curved or rounded edge.

smooth edges on gingerbread house cake

After smoothing all of the sides and peeling off all of the paper windows, spread the buttercream at the top edge of the cake onto the roof. Then put this cake into the fridge to chill before the next step.

Make edible Christmas trees

While the cake is in the fridge, make some Christmas trees! For a soft green, use a drop of orange to tone it down so it’s not bright green. Put this into a piping bag fitted with a medium round tip. I'm using a #8 by Wilton. You can use a sandwich bag with one of the bottom corners cut off to pipe through instead.

how to make christmas trees with ice cream cones

I'm using two ice cream cones to make two trees. Use your green buttercream to cover them in little dots. The trees will be easier to move after the buttercream sets, which is why it’s good idea to make these now so that they set while you're decorating the rest of the house.

Add a door, wreath and roof to the gingerbread house cake

Now that the gingerbread house cake is cold and the buttercream is firm, add the rest of the details. Use your ruler to measure up the sides of the cake for some wood panelling. I'm marking every 2cm on mine. Mark on both the left and right of each side to make sure your lines go straight across!

measuring details on buttercream cake with ruler

Then push the edge of the ruler into the buttercream to score a line across it. You can use the edge of your cake comb instead if you like. Do this on all of the sides of the cake, except the sloping sides of the roof. You can use a paintbrush to brush off any buttercream crumbs that come off while you’re doing this. 

how to mark wood panels onto a buttercream cake

Use one of the windows as a guide to make a door that's a bit taller and wider. Cut it out, leaving the surrounding paper intact. Use this as a stencil, positioning it against the cakes and pressing it to attach it to the condensation.

how to make a stencil for a door on a gingerbread house cake

Then spread buttercream over it to fill in the door shape. Smooth the buttercream with a palette knife or offset spatula, leaving a thin, smooth layer. Peel the parchment off to leave the door shape behind. We’re going to cover up the edges of this so they don’t need to be perfectly neat and smooth.

making a door stencil with buttercream

Press a cookie cutter or any round object above the door to make a wreath. Within this circle, press a smaller circle like the base of a piping tip.

how to make a buttercream wreath

Pipe green dots to fill in the wreath, just like you did for the Christmas tree cones. We’ll add baubles or ornaments to this later.

piping a buttercream wreath

For the roof, fill a piping bag fitted with a large round piping tip like a 1A. Pipe dots of buttercream along the bottom edge of the roof so that they touch each other in a row. Then press the tip of a spatula into each dot and drag upwards to make scallops.

buttercream piped scallop roof on gingerbread house cake

Pipe another row of dots above with each dot in between the two dots below it so that they’re offset.

how to make a buttercream roof for a gingerbread house cake

The first and final scallop don't need to line up with the edge of the roof because we’ll fix that later. If in doubt, add an extra scallop so that it sticks out over the edge. Go all the way up to the top of the roof on both sides of the house.

Decorate the gingerbread house

Now let’s add details to the windows and door. Use a toothpick to make a cross in each window, as a guide to pipe along. Then you'll need white buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a small round piping tip. This is a #4. You can pipe straight lines if you like but they're very tricky so instead, piping dots is easier. As you squeeze the piping bag, the buttercream bulges out to make a dot. As you stop squeezing, pull the bag away to leave a little peak on each dot, which the next dot will overlap. 

buttercream windows on gingerbread house cake

If the buttercream roof hasn’t set yet, put the cake back into the fridge for another 30 minutes. Then use a sharp knife to slice along the front edges of the roof scallops so that they're flat.

cutting through cold buttercream with a knife

Use a round or star shaped piping tip like this # 18 to pipe along the edge. I'm using the same technique as for the windows, squeezing the piping bag to let the buttercream bulge out and then pulling away as you stop squeezing the bag. This leaves a peak or tail, which you pipe over with the next one.

piping buttercream snow on gingerbread roof

Continue down from the edge of the roof, along the edge of the bottom of the house. Do this on both the front and the back of the house.

For the top of the roof you can use the same technique or pipe little spiral swirls. For these, pipe a ring spiraling outwards and then drag that across and pull away. Repeat but piping in the opposite direction, so clockwise for the first, and then anti-clockwise or counter-clockwise for the next.

piping along roof

I’m piping two lines of these to cover up the join of the scallops along the top edge of the roof. I’m also piping along the bottom edge of the scallops. This makes them match the other edges of the cake and also looks a bit like snow or icicles hanging down from the roof. 

buttercream icicles on gingerbread roof

To decorate the wreath I’m piping dots wherever I want to place a bauble or ornament. Then press a sprinkle into each of those dots.

how to attach sprinkles to a buttercream wreath

I need these piped dots because the buttercream wreath has already set, so sprinkles won’t stick to it anymore. If you decide earlier than I did that you want to add sprinkles, I suggest adding them straight after piping the wreath! They’ll stick to the wreath and you can skip the step of piping these extra dots. 

buttercream christmas wreath with sprinkles

The door has set too, so I’m piping a dot to attach another sprinkle as a doorknob. I'm piping the same border around the door and windows as I did for the edges of the cake.

piping a border around gingerbread house door
piping around windows on gingerbread house cake

You might choose to add extra rows of piping around the edges of the cake to make it look more wintery. Extra piping is also a good way to hide any imperfections in the frosting!

Transfer the cake to a cake board

Before adding the finishing touches, move your cake onto the final cake board, which is the other rectangular cake board. Use two dots of buttercream to attach the house, which is still on that little rectangular piece of cake board you cut out at the beginning,. This board makes it easy to lift and move the cake without breaking. Use a cake lifter or spatula to center the cake on the board.

how to transfer a cake to a cake board
center cake on cake board

Make buttercream snow

Pipe white buttercream around the bottom edge of the house and around the cake board. Spread it to cover the board and then press cling film or Saran Wrap down onto it.

spread buttercream snow onto cake board

This will smooth and flatten it. Then lift it up to leave snowy texture in the buttercream.

making buttercream snow

Pick up your Christmas trees and press them into the buttercream snow in front of the gingerbread house. Since the piping on the trees has set, you can touch it without damaging it.

gingerbread house cake with christmas tree ice cream cones

If you want to decorate them with sprinkles, you need to either add the sprinkles straight after piping or pipe some dots now to act as glue.

Now it's time for the final details! Use a powder brush to dust the cake and snow with tinker dust or edible glitter. This will make it sparkly.

brushing glitter onto a gingerbread house cake

Wrap a fabric ribbon around the cake board to add some colour and cover up the corrugated cardboard edge of the board.

wrapping a cake board with ribbon

Isn't it beautiful? I was so excited to cut into this cake!

pink gingerbread cake
pink gingerbread house cake

How to serve a gingerbread house cake

To serve a tall cake like this is surprisingly VERY simply. Start by cutting from the top down until you feel your knife hit the cake board in the middle. Serve those slices and then lift up the cake board underneath.

how to serve a gingerbread house cake
how to serve a tall cake

Pull out the supports, and then serve the bottom part of the cake! Yum! This gingerbread house cake is not only stunning, it’s also absolutely delicious, with moist chocolate cake layers and rich buttercream filling and frosting.

serving a gingerbread house cake

If you have any questions about how to make this gingerbread house cake, ask me in the comments below. Visit my online cake school to learn hundreds more cake decorating techniques and designs! You can also watch a video of this tutorial on How to Make a Gingerbread House Cake here:

Here are 10 number cake hacks for baking, filling, layering, frosting and decorating!

#1 Turn any cake into a number cake

You don't need to buy special molds or baking pans to make a number cake. Instead, just cut a piece of paper so it's the same size as the cake you've baked. Draw your number onto that piece of paper and cut it out. Place it on your cake and cut around it with a serrated knife like a bread knife.

how to cut a number cake out of a sheet cake

Depending on the size of the number cake that you want to make, you might choose to cut out one or two numbers from each cake. To cut out two, fold the piece of paper in half before you draw your number. This way, the number will be half the size of your cake. Trace the number onto the cake twice to get two layers out of each cake. This is my Perfect Chocolate Cake:

how to make number cake layers

#2 Attach your number cake to a cake board

It's important to attach your number cake onto a cake board so it doesn't slide around. Pipe or spread at least two dots of buttercream frosting onto the cake board. Then lower your cake onto those dots. The buttercream acts like glue to attach the cake and hold it in place.

how to attach a number cake to a cake board

Now you can layer, decorate, and lift the cake on the board without it moving around. This is my Very Vanilla Cake:

piping onto a number cake

#3 Fix broken number cake layers

Sometimes, cakes crack or break apart as you're lowering them onto the cake board. Use buttercream as glue to attach the pieces back together! Pipe or spread a dot wherever the piece broke off and then press the piece against the dot.

how to fix a broken number cake

After filling and frosting the cake you'll never know it was broken!

number 3 dinosaur cake

#4 Spacing designs equally

For multicoloured filling, for example a rainbow, you'll want to space the colours evenly across your cake.

rainbow buttercream filling

Mark out the sections onto your cake by scoring them with a knife before you start piping. I like to start by scoring halfway across the cake. Then divide those sections in half and in half again, as many times as necessary.

how to space filling evenly on a number cake

I'm using my 4 Minute Buttercream for this cake and for every other cake in this tutorial.

rainbow 4 number cake

#5 How to layer a number cake

It's easiest to carve and assemble cakes when they're cold rather than at room temperature. When they're cold, they're firmer and less likely to crumble or break. To chill a cake, wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for an hour or overnight. I like to chill sheet cakes before carving them into number cakes. Next, while they're still cold, move the number cakes onto a cake board and layer them with fillings.

how to layer a number cake

#6 How to frost number cakes with holes

Some numbers have holes in them, for example a number four or six or nine. The easiest way to decorate these number cakes is to leave that hole intact instead of cutting out the hole. When you frost the cake, pipe or spread a different colour over the "hole". This makes it clear it's not part of your number and the number will be recognizable. You'll save time carving and you won't have to frost any tricky areas of cake.

easy number 6 cake

#7 Chocolate collars on number cakes

If you struggle to get smooth frosting on your cakes, I have bad news! It's even trickier to achieve smooth frosting on a number cake. I'll give you tips for this later in #9 but for now, here's a quick hack to avoid smooth frosting. Use chocolate to cover your cake instead!

Start by covering the cake in a crumb coat. This is a very thin layer of frosting that doesn't need to be perfectly neat. It makes it easier to attach the chocolate to the cake.

how to frost a number cake

Then melt chocolate chips in the microwave at 60% power for 30 seconds at a time. Stir until smooth or heat for another 30 seconds if necessary. Cut strips of baking paper, wax paper or parchment paper so that they're as tall as the cake. Pour the melted chocolate on top, spreading it to cover the paper completely.

white chocolate collar for number cake

Then slide your hands underneath the paper, lift it up and press it against the sides of your cake. Pinch any corners to make sure there's a sharp angle there.

how to wrap a cake in chocolate collar

You can use a cake comb to press the paper against the cake to attach the chocolate. Then put the cake into the fridge for about 30 minutes before peeling the paper off.

how to unwrap a chocolate collar number cake

You can top this cake with berries or candy or chocolate or flowers or whatever you like! If you like this design, read my tutorial on how to decorate any cake with a chocolate collar.

number 7 cake with white chocolate and berries

#8 Use toy figures to decorate number cakes

The easiest way to decorate a themed cake is to use figures or toys rather than making chocolate or fondant decorations. Bring a race track cake to life by adding toy cars, like on this number 8 cake. Hot Wheels type cars are the perfect size and after you've washed and dried them, they're perfectly safe to put on top of a cake.

number 8 car racetrack cake

#9 How to get smooth frosting on a number cake

Let's tackle smooth frosting. This is the trickiest way to decorate a number cake. For the best results it's really important to chill your cake before you start. Cold cake gets much firmer and less crumbly than room temperature cake. This means chunks won't break off when you spread on the frosting and you'll have fewer crumbs in your frosting. Like with all cakes, it's a good idea to start with a crumb coat. This is a very thin layer to trap any crumbs that do come off the cake.

how to frost a number cake with smooth frosting

Spread frosting over the top of the cake and around the sides and smooth it with an offset spatula or cake comb. This crumb coat doesn't need to be perfect! Put the cake in the fridge to chill and set, which takes about 30 minutes. Then pipe or spread another layer of frosting on top. If there are any holes in your number I recommend starting with those areas because they're the trickiest.

You can frost a number cake using almost any technique you would use on a round cake. This one is going to be a watercolour design. After any holes, I like to do the top of the cake next to get that smooth. Then do the sides, making sure that the frosting sticks up a little bit above the top edge of the cake. This will give you nice sharp angles later.

how to frost a number 9 cake

You can use the side of your offset spatula to smooth the frosting or a cake comb. Make sure you wipe the blade after each scrape so that it's clean when you use it again. This way you won't drag any excess buttercream onto your smooth frosting.

number 9 cake

#10 Cake toppers for number cakes

The best time to add toppers to your cake is immediately after piping or spreading your frosting onto the cake. Toppers include chocolates, candies, flowers, sprinkles and figures. While the frosting is still soft and sticky, anything will attach to it. If you wait anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes, the frosting will set and pushing toppers onto the frosting will crack the frosting.

how to make a loaded number cake

I hope this has been useful and now you have lots of tips to confidently make a number cake! Ask me any questions in the comments below and visit my cake school to learn hundreds of cake decorating techniques and designs.

Watch a video of this tutorial on 10 Number Cake Hacks:

Smash cakes are popular for first birthday celebrations and these little cakes are perfect for small gatherings, too! They're easier than you think to make. I'll show you how to make them with and without tools like a turntable and cake comb.

Bake your smash cake layers

First, bake your smash cake layers. These are typically four or six inches but you can use the techniques in this tutorial for any size cake. I'm using my Small Batch Chocolate Cake recipe to make 4" layers:

how to trim domed cakes to make them flat

Prepare your smash cake layers by letting them cool completely, which takes about two hours. Then if the tops are domed you can level them with a serrated knife like a bread knife.

For the easiest assembly and neatest frosting, wrap these in cling film or plastic wrap. Then put them in the fridge for about an hour so that they chill.

how to wrap cake layers

Assembling smash cakes

On a plate

If you don't have a cake board you can assemble a smash cake on a plate. I'll show you how to do it on a cake board next. Always start with a dot of buttercream in the middle of your plate or cake board. Push your first cake layer down onto it and it acts like glue to hold the cake in place. This way it won't slide around while you decorate it.

how to make a smash cake on a plate

For the filling on this cake I'm using my 4 Minute Buttercream, adding melted chocolate chips to make it chocolate. You can use jam, caramel, Nutella, lemon curd… whatever you like. Using the back of a spoon, spread it so that it covers the cake up to the edges.

make a smash cake with a spoon

Flip your top layer upside down so that the part that was on the bottom of the cake pan faces upwards. This will give you the flattest top on your cake.

two layer smash cake

On a cake board

Making your cake on a cake board is the best option if you want smooth frosting. You'll also need a dot of buttercream to attach that first cake layer.

how to stick a cake to a cake board so it doesn't move

You can apply filling with a spoon or with an offset spatula. Spread it and make sure it's level so that your cake is straight and not leaning to one side.

After assembling your cake it's best to chill it in the fridge for about 30 minutes. This will mean fewer crumbs and less wobbling when you frost it.

How to frost smash cakes

The crumb coat

To prevent crumbs in your frosting, start with a thin layer called a crumb coat. This will trap any crumbs that come off the cake so that they don't get into your final layer. Use an offset spatula or palette knife to spread frosting over the top of the cake.

how to smooth frosting on a smash cake

Then spread the frosting from side to side all the way from the top of the cake down to the bottom of the cake. The aim is to cover the whole cake so there is no cake (and no crumbs!) exposed. Hold your offset spatula against the side of the cake and spin your turntable to smooth the frosting. Don't worry about getting it perfectly smooth because you are going to cover up this layer.

how to frost a smash cake

Swipe sideways with your offset spatula to take off the uneven top edge of the frosting. Lift that frosting off with your offset spatula and scrape it back into your bowl. Swipe your offset spatula before each next swipe. Then chill the cake before doing the final coat.

crumb coating smash cakes

After being in the fridge for about 30 minutes, the crumb coat will have set. This means it's firm instead of sticky. Now it's time for the final layer of frosting.

Frosting smash cakes without a cake comb

For the final layer of frosting I like to put frosting on the top of the cake first. Spread it all over the cake so that it sticks out over the sides, which will give you nice sharp angles later.

how to get smooth frosting on smash cakes

Spin the cake with your offset spatula at a 45 degree angle and that will level and smooth the frosting.

how to get smooth icing on smash cakes

Then do the sides of the cake. You're aiming for two things here. First, you want to completely cover up the crumb coat so you don't see any of it. Secondly, you want to spread the frosting so that it's all about the same thickness. After covering the whole cake, if any of the frosting looks shallower or thinner, spread more over those areas.

smooth frosting on cakes

Next you would typically use a cake comb to smooth the frosting. If you don't have one you can use a ruler! Press the base of the ruler down on the cake board to line it up straight against the cake. Then with your left hand or your non-dominant hand, start spinning the turntable as you push the ruler into the side of the frosting. Hold that ruler still as you spin the cake on the turntable so that the turntable is doing all of the work for you. When you've gone as far as you can, swipe the ruler off. Then use your offset spatula to scrape any frosting off the ruler so that it's clean and then repeat.

smooth frosting with a ruler

After scraping around the cake a few times you'll notice some indents or air pockets or gaps in the frosting. Use your offset spatula to scoop up some frosting and spread it over those indents and then scrape around again. Once your frosting is smooth, use your offset spatula to swipe sideways over the top edge of the cake.

sharp edges on smash cakes

After each swipe, scrape the frosting back into your bowl and wipe your offset spatula clean on a towel or paper towel. It needs to be perfectly clean before you swipe again. Now you have smooth sides on the cake and a sharp edge from the sides onto the top of the cake.

Frosting smash cakes with a cake comb

Now I want to show you how to smooth the frosting using a cake comb. Just like for the previous cake, I'm spreading the frosting to cover my cake. Then, instead of using a ruler I'm using a cake comb. Press the base of the cake comb down on the cake board and start spinning the turntable. The straight edge will take off all of the excess frosting, leaving a smooth layer behind.

how to use a cake comb on smash cakes

After a few scrapes, touch up any imperfections by spreading more frosting onto those areas. Then scrape again and again until the frosting is smooth.

how to use a frosting smooth on a smash cake

Side note: I used a tiny drop of gel colour to make this shade of pink. Gel colours are very concentrated so you only need a tiny amount to get really bright and bold colours.

neat frosting on smash cakes

Use your offset spatula to tidy up the top edge and tadaa! If you struggle with smooth frosting, try the tips in my tutorial on 7 secrets for smooth frosting on cakes.

Frosting smash cakes with no tools

If you don't have a cake comb, cake board or turntable you can use a plate and a spoon to decorate your cake. Spoon some frosting onto the top of the cake and spread it over the top just like you would with an offset spatula. It needs to cover the top surface and stick out over the edge of the cake.

Then scoop up more frosting and spread it around the sides of the cake. Don't worry about getting this neat at all at the moment. The only goal is to completely cover the cake with frosting.

how to frost a cake with a spoon

The best way to get the frosting onto the cake is with little circular motions, which pushes the frosting onto the cake so it sticks without pulling off crumbs or chunks of cake with it when you swipe the spoon away.

When the cake is totally covered with frosting, use a paper towel or a towel wrapped around your finger to wipe around the edge of the cake. This takes any frosting smudges off the plate.

wipe the cake plate clean

Now to tidy up this frosting dip your spoon into a cup of hot water, which will heat the metal. Create neat texture on the cake by moving your spoon in little arcs around the frosting. Because the metal of the spoon is hot it will smooth out the frosting as you do this, getting rid of any air pockets and leaving it silky and beautiful.

textured frosting with a spoon

This frosting is definitely not smooth but the texture adds lots of detail and interest to the cake. If you want to make the frosting smooth without a turntable, try my turntable hack using a microwave!

smash cake with textured frosting

Decorating smash cakes

Rustic textured frosting

You can create gorgeous rustic texture with your offset spatula or even a spoon. Push it gently into the frosting at the bottom of the cake and spin the cake. Your spoon or offset spatula will leave a groove in the cake. As you gradually drag it upwards, the grooves will continue upwards, creating this gorgeous texture all over the cake.

texture on a smash cake

Whenever you notice frosting building up on your offset spatula or spoon, scrape off the excess into a bowl. Then continue up the cake. You can leave the top edge of the cake uneven for a rustic effect or you can level it to make it neater.

smash cake frosting decorations

Piped swirls

To add height to your cake, pipe some swirls on top. All you need for this is a star-shaped tip like a 1M tip.

1m star piping tip

Drop the piping tip into a piping bag. If you haven't used this piping bag before you'll need to cut it. Push the tip back a little bit, cut about halfway up where the tip was, and then push the tip back down.

how to cut a piping bag

Spoon a little bit of frosting into the piping bag. You don't need much so whatever is left in your bowl after frosting the cake is probably perfect! Squeeze the piping bag to push the frosting all the way down to the bottom. Twist the piping bag to push the buttercream down against the piping tip. This will mean you need hardly any pressure to squeeze the frosting out of the piping bag.

how to pipe swirls onto a cake using a 1M piping tip

Hold the piping tip above your cake, squeeze the bag and pipe in circular motions. At the top of each swirl I like to push down slightly before releasing my pressure and then lift the bag up, which leaves a neat peak on the top of each swirl.

piping swirls onto cakes with a star tip

Sprinkle smash cakes

Finally, the easiest way to decorate a cake is with some sprinkles. It's best to do this just after frosting your cake, while the frosting is still soft and sticky so that the sprinkles stick to it. If you wait until the frosting sets, the sprinkles will bounce straight off the cake.

chocolate smash cake

Serving smash cakes

Now it's time to serve your smash cake! You can slice these like any other cake for small portions, which is perfect for a small gathering.

cutting a smash cake
chocolate smash cake two servings

Or dig into them with a fork, maybe for a couple's anniversary celebration. Or if you're following the smash cake trend, you give the cake to a baby on their first birthday and let them… smash it!

baby smash cake

I hope this tutorial has been useful. Please ask me any questions you have in the comments and visit my cake school to learn hundreds of cake decorating techniques and designs.

You can watch a video of this tutorial on smash cakes here:

I'm going to show you seven ways to make buttercream patterns on cake with these step-by-step instructions. Spoiler alert: no fondant! I'll be using my 4 Minute Buttercream for all of these techniques.

Striped Frosting on Cakes

Let's start by making stripes! Cover your cake with frosting and scrape around a few times with a cake comb to get it fairly smooth. Don't worry about getting it perfectly smooth yet! Then switch to a striped cake comb, which is one of these that looks like castle turrets on the side:

how to use a striped cake comb on a cake with buttercream frosting icing

Scrape around the cake just as you would with a straight cake comb. You'll imprint the grooves of the stripes in the frosting. At first they'll look messy but as you continue scraping they'll get smoother. If there are any indents spread a bit more frosting over that part and then scrape again.

how to make striped frosting on a buttercream cake

Make sure you spread enough frosting around the top edge of the cake so that that top stripe sticks up above the top edge of the cake. Put the whole cake in the freezer for 15 minutes to chill the frosting. Set a timer because you don't want to leave it for any longer. Choose your next colour and put it into a piping bag. You can skip the piping tip or use one the same width as your stripes. Take the cake out of the freezer and the frosting should be very firm. Pipe the frosting into the grooves to fill them in completely. The piping doesn't have to be neat but it needs to fill in the grooves so there aren't any air pockets.

how to make striped buttercream frosting

Now scrape around the cake with a straight edged cake comb. You'll smear the second colour of frosting all over the cake but as you scrape again and again, you'll take off all of the excess to reveal neat stripes underneath.

how to make a striped frosting cake

The reason for putting the cake in the freezer is so that the first colour of stripes sets and holds its shape. Those stripes won't get warped as you scrape with your cake comb.

how to make a striped cake without fondant

Tidy up the top edge with an offset spatula or cake comb and you have perfectly neat striped frosting!

striped buttercream patterns on cake

Vertical Stripes on Cakes

If you want your stripes to go up and down the cake vertically, here's a technique for that. Wrap a piece of acetate or parchment paper or baking paper around your cake. Pull it about an inch out from the cake so you have a bit extra.

how to use an acetate wrap on cakes

Cut it and then tape it down onto a baking sheet or a tray. You need a flat surface that you can pick up and move later. Spread frosting all over it and use an offset spatula to smooth this so it's flat.

striped frosting cake using acetate

Then use your striped cake comb to pull from the top edge down to the bottom edge. You might have to do this a few times to take off all of the buttercream within the stripes. It's important to leave a very thin layer behind so that the stripes don't break apart from each other later.

vertical stripes on cakes

Put this tray into the freezer for 15 minutes while you prepare your next colour of buttercream. When you take the tray out, spread the second colour into the gaps. Scrape off all of the excess so that the whole surface is smooth.

how to make vertical stripes on cakes without fondant

Then untape the acetate or paper, lift it up and press it onto the sides of a cake. The cake needs to have a crumb coat on already to make the sides straight.

how to wrap acetate around a cake to transfer a buttercream design

Press the striped frosting on the acetate or paper against the cake to attach it. Then put the whole cake back into the fridge or freezer for 15 to 30 minutes to set this frosting. Peel the acetate or paper off, leaving vertical stripes behind.

how to peel acetate off a frosted cake

The certical stripes aren't complete yet. Use a metal cake comb or a knife to slice off the frozen stripes where they stick up above the top edge of the cake. Then spread frosting to cover the top of the cake neatly.

how to use acetate to frost a cake

Next, touch up the stripes. There will be air pockets where the buttercream didn't go all the way down to the acetate or paper.

how to smooth imperfections after a buttercream transfer on cakes

Fill those in by spreading on that same colour and then scrape off the excess. A hot metal cake comb works really well for this. You can heat it either by dipping it into hot water or holding it underneath running hot water. The hot metal will leave perfectly neat, smooth vertical stripes behind!

smooth frosting after acetate transfer on buttercream cake

Buttercream Patterns on Cake Using Cookie Cutters

Use cookie cutters as a guide to create patterns like for a vintage style cake. After you've frosted a cake, press cookie cutters in gently to imprint their shape.

how to use cookie cutters to make patterns on cakes

Then use a variety of piping tips and colours to add details to the cake, following those lines as guides. Petal tips work really nicely for this to make ruffles.

vintage pattern on cakes using cookie cutter guidelines

Using a variety of colours with the same piping tip and technique adds extra detail without much extra effort!

piping a vintage cake with cookie cutter pattern

For lines and dots, use round piping tips. Warning: piping smooth, neat lines is a lot trickier than piping texture!

piping vintage buttercream patterns on cake using cookie cutter guidelines

Using cookie cutters like this allows you to create whatever pattern you like, equally spaced around the cake.

Stencil Buttercream Patterns on Cake

You can create endless patterns by using stencils on your cakes. There are two tricks to really neat stenciling. Firstly, chill your cake so that the frosting is really firm before you put your stencil onto the cake. Secondly, attach to stencil to the cake so it doesn't move. I like to use pins to secure the stencil on all four corners. If the stencil moves as you're spreading the buttercream on you'll smudge the design or the pattern.

how to attach a stencil to a buttercream cake

Spread the frosting onto the stencil and scrape off as much as you can. Peel the stencil off straight away, before the stencilled buttercream sets.

how to use cake stencils with buttercream
how to take stencils off buttercream cakes

Good news: if you're using a stencil to cover the cake completely with the pattern, by the time you finish there'll be so many details on the cake you really won't notice tiny imperfections in the stenciling. Also, if you're going to add any other details like piping or sprinkles or gold leaf you can be strategic with where you place it on the cake so that you cover up any imperfections.

Symmetrical Grid Patterns

This technique works for any pattern in a grid like polka dots or quilting patterns. To space the grid evenly on your cake, use parchment paper or baking paper. Wrap the paper around the cake to measure it so that it's the same circumference as the cake. Then fold it in half again and again in both directions until you've made a perfect grid.

how to make a parchment grid guideline for patterns on cakes

Wrap the paper around the cake again. The frosting needs to have set before you do this, which takes about an hour in the fridge. Then use a toothpick or a pin to poke through every point where the creases meet. Poke every second crease for a diagonal or offset pattern like a quilting grid.

how to make a grid on cake for polka dot patterns

When you peel the paper off you'll be left with the grid on the cake. You can pipe over the markings, creating a perfectly spaced neat pattern.

quilted patterns and polka dot patterns on cakes

Another way to use this grid technique is to do diagonal lines of patterns. Start by folding the paper to make your grid, wrap it around the cake, and poke your pin or toothpick through it. Now instead of just using one piping tip and colour to create dots, vary the piping tips and colours to make diagonal lines for a different pattern. I love all of the colour and textures in this one!

diagonal patterns on cakes using parchment stencil grid

Buttercream Patterns on Cake Using Cookie Cutters

For this cake I'm using different colours of buttercream layered within the same piping bag. This saves a lot of time compared to using different piping bags for different colours.

one bag piping

Spread your colours in a row on cling film or plastic wrap and roll it into a log. Cut off one end and drop that end down into a piping bag.

one bag piping for multicolored piping on cakes

Use a cookie cutter to imprint your pattern, which is going to be concentric circles for this cake. Then fill the sections with piping to create these shapes on your cake.

how to pipe patterns on cakes
piped buttercream patterns on cake

As a side note, you can make almost any buttercream patterns on cake flat! Use the Facelift Frosting technique, which I did for this cake and the previous cake:

baking with a baby
facelift frosting technique for flat patterns on cakes british girl bakes

Textured Buttercream Patterns on Cake

To create patterned texture, use a textured cake comb. First, frost the cake as normal. Make sure the sides are straight and the top is level. Don't worry about any imperfections in your frosting at this point. It doesn't need to be perfectly smooth.

textured pattern on buttercream frosting using a textured cake comb

Now switch to a textured cake comb. Scrape around the cake again and again to imprint the texture from the comb. Then spread extra frosting onto any indents or imperfections in the texture.

how to use a textured cake comb

Scrape again until the texture is imprinted and the textured frosting is smooth. The final result is gorgeous and really doesn't need any decorations other than this textured patterned frosting.

how to do textured frosting with buttercream on cakes

I hope you've seen some ideas you'd like to try. Join me on my online cake school for more cake decorating techniques and designs!

You can also watch a video of this tutorial on 7 Ways to Make Buttercream Patterns on Cake:

How does a cake influencer really earn money? And how much? How much time does it take and how much cake do you eat in the process? What's the best and hardest part? I’ll be sharing all of this and more!

Confession #1: I didn't choose to be a cake influencer

The first cake decorating video I shared was back in 2012, before the term 'influencer' existed. Influencers are a relatively new term referring to people who influence people's actions or generate interest. For example, using a certain cake comb might make others consider choosing it. My first video was a time lapse video of making a car-shaped cake in my old cupcake shop in Costa Rica. I made it for fun, about five years long before starting the British Girl Bakes accounts on YouTube and Instagram. These accounts were specifically for sharing cake decorating tutorials. At the time, especially on Instagram, it was rare to see a video of the process of making a cake. The app was used mostly for photos. I was consistent with posting videos and the accounts got really popular so I guess I became an accidental influencer!

Confession #2: My life is not very glamorous

There are definitely fun parts to doing this: travel and interviews and decorating cakes, of course! But overall my life is definitely not glamorous! Off camera I'm usually in my pajamas with a cup of coffee in hand, washing massive piles of dirty bowls. There's usually a baby in the background or in a baby carrier with kids running in and out of the room.

baking with a baby

Here's a funny example of this. I took a time lapse video of a cake melting to show what happens in the sun. Let's zoom out to see the setup.

behind the scenes filming a cake

I used my phone on a tripod to record the process but the sun was strong and didn't want the phone to overheat. I used one of my kids' umbrellas balanced on a stroller to try to keep the phone in the shade. Not as glamorous of a setup as you might expect!

Confession #3: I'm not a part-time cake influencer

Being a cake influencer is a full-time job for me. Although I can't work a typical 9-5 day because I have three little children, I fit my work into three chunks of time each day. The first is while my kids are in school and preschool, with a babysitter watching the baby for about three hours a day. Next, while the baby naps for another two hours each day. Finally, for about three hours after bedtime every night. You'll usually find a baby monitor on my cake decorating table beyond the camera shot!

cake decorating while the baby naps

If you add that up that's forty hours a week. I have another tutorial showing the filming, editing, and the rest of the process that goes on behind the scenes.

Confession #4: I don't make a lot of money on YouTube

Even with over 300,000 subscribers on YouTube, it still doesn't provide much income. Here's a short with over a million views and I made 77 dollars:

how much money do youtube shorts make

Long form videos are much better. This one with over 3 million views has made $17,000:

how much money do youtube videos make

Here's a typical day's earnings on YouTube: $65.55. You can see recent months' total income below. On its own this isn't enough to live on where I live.

how much money do you make with a youtube channel

So, why do I spend time making videos for YouTube? The aim is to find people who learn from these free tutorials and then visit my cake school and sign up for paid courses.

Confession #5: I don't eat much cake

Despite popular belief I don't eat cake every day. I typically frost and re-frost and re-decorate cakes for videos, sometimes five or six times. By the time I finish, they're not edible anymore. If they are edible I give them away because honestly, they're not that tempting to me anymore. I had a cake shop in Costa Rica for four years where I did taste testing every single day so I've had enough cake to last me a lifetime! The exception to this is for recipe testing, when I'll bake and taste a lot of cake until it's just right.

eating cake

Confession #6: I don't have a team

I don't have a camera crew, an editor, a marketing team, a website team, a social media manager. It's just me. When I'm decorating cakes I set up various cameras around the room to get different angles. Then I edit all of my own videos using Final Cut Pro.

how to film cake videos

For my website I write out every tutorial with photos for people who prefer to read instead of watching the videos. For marketing I design, write and send out a newsletter every week. I also run all of the British Girl Bakes social media accounts: YouTube, Instagram, Facebook.

Confession #7: I don't sell my cakes for a lot of money

Actually I don't sell my cakes at all! I make about 100 cakes a year but I choose what I make based on what I think will be popular on my cake school or my website, YouTube, Instagram, not based on orders. Then I give the cakes away to friends or family, neighbors, teachers at school.

cakes for kids

When it takes me more than a few days to decorate a cake so it's no longer edible, I'll frost and redecorate it again and again for different videos.

repurposing a cake for different decorations

Confession #8: I don't share all of my cake fails

I think troubleshooting is helpful to share whereas cake fails are mostly for entertainment. I like to share troubleshooting for mistakes, explaining what you can do to prevent it or what you can can do to fix it. When I was filming the cake below I poked my fingers into the frosting when I tried to move the cake board!

troubleshooting what to do if you poke your finger into a frosted cake

Of course, cake fails happen to me too. Sometimes I'll try lots of different methods for something and none of them will work and so I give up and move on to something else. I don't end up sharing the fails unless I find a method that works.

I will say that I don't share all of my camera footage. What you see is about a 15th of what I actually film! It typically takes about an hour and a half to film a cake and then I'll cut it down to about five minutes for the YouTube tutorial. I cut out all of the boring parts and try to only show the key moments that you really need to see in order to replicate that technique at home.

video editing by a cake influencer

Confession #9: I don't have any qualifications to be a cake influencer

My background might not be what you'd expect for a cake influencer. I studied Law at University, graduated, moved to Costa Rica to teach English and I ended up opening a cake shop.

sweet sensations cake shop in costa rica by emily friend

Then I moved to Los Angeles and managed some bakeries there until I had a baby and was totally overwhelmed! I started making cake decorating videos on maternity leave to try to keep myself sane and here we are!

emily friend when british girl bakes first started

Confession #10: The hardest and best parts of being a cake influencer

The hardest thing about being a cake influencer is trying to find a balance. I choose when I work and how much I work which is a privilege and a curse! When I'm working on a project I love it's easy to try to find more time to spend on it. I can add extra babysitting hours for my kids, cancel plans, or work late at night. I end up missing what's really important: spending time with my friends and family. So creating a work-life balance by defining which hours I'm going to work and then sticking to that is, for me, the hardest part.

work life balance as a cake influencer

Let's finish with the best thing! With flexibility to choose what to do, how much of it to do and when to do it, I can spend a lot of time with my family. With a lot of advance planning I can travel and work from anywhere. I just got back from a trip with my family for a month and I could schedule ahead so that I didn't have to work while I was away. I could really focus on spending time with my family and that's amazing to be able to do when my kids are so little and still think that I'm the best thing!

travel as a cake influencer

As always, if you have any questions please ask them in the comments below. I'd love it if you subscribed to my YouTube channel, where I share a new cake decorating tutorial every week. You can watch the video of these 10 confessions of a cake influencer below:

I'm going to show you how to make this fun and easy jungle themed cake, perfect for a Wild One cake or for a Two Wild birthday party.

Assemble your cake or cakes

Start with a cake board or a cake drum at least two inches wider than your cake. Attach your first layer with a dot of buttercream and then alternate cake and filling to build your first cake. Now cover it with a crumb coat. This is a very thin layer of frosting to trap any crumbs that come off the cake. It's going to be covered up so it doesn't need to be really neat. I'm using my Perfect Chocolate Cake and my 4 Minute Buttercream to fill, frost, and decorating this Wild One cake. Put the cake in the fridge to chill this for about 30 minutes.

crumb coat every cake for a tier cake

You can use this design for a single Wild One cake or a tier cake. For a tier cake, assemble the smaller cake next, which will eventually go on top of the previous cake. For this cake you'll need a large cake board and also a cake board the same size as the cake.

cake boards for tier cakes

Use a roll of masking tape or a non-slip mat to attach the two cake boards together on your turntable. Then assemble your cake on top of the small cake board and cover it in a crumb coat.

how to frost a tier cake

If you don't have a cake board as small as this cake (which I don't!) you can trim the cake board. It's best to trim the cake board after you've crumb coated the cake and after chilling it so that the frosting on the cake is firm and even if you touch it you won't damage it.

how to trim a cake board for a tier cake

Now attach the cake on its little cake board to the big cake board. You can use your non-slip mat or if you find that the cake is wobbling around, use a dot of buttercream instead. The reason for the big cake board is to provide a smooth surface to rest your cake comb on and so that you don't get frosting on your turntable.

How to frost a Wild One cake

After crumb coating both of your cakes you'll need to give them a final coat of frosting. The crumb coat needs to set first, which takes about 30 minutes in the fridge. Once set, it traps the crumbs so that they don't get into this final coat of frosting.

how to frost a cake on a cake board the same size

You're going to cover this cake with Wild One cake decorations but the design will look best if the cake is neatly frosted, first. Get the frosting as smooth as possible with the sharpest edge around the top of the cake to create a neat shape.

smooth frosting an sharp edges on tier cake

Then put the frosted cakes in the fridge for at least an hour to chill and firm up.

Make wafer paper leaves

Meanwhile, prepare your decorations. To make leaves you'll need wafer paper, which you can cut using scissors into whatever jungly type leaves you like. A quick note about wafer paper: you'll see that there are two different sides with different textures and it's fine to colour the leaves on either of those sides.

how to cut wafer paper leaves

I'm going to show you different ways to colour these and tell you which way I think is best.

The cheapest option is to use gel food colouring that you would use to tint your buttercream. Mix it with a little bit of water or alcohol like vodka to thin it out. It's better to use alcohol than water because it evaporates more quickly so it won't soak the wafer paper. The gel doesn't dissolve very well so you'll have some clumps of colouring within the liquid. The downside to using this method is that the colours aren't as true and the wafer paper is the most likely to snap in the process. When it dries it's a little bit flexible but again is likely to snap if you try to shape it.

wafer paper painted with only alcohol

Glycerin really helps for effective colouring of wafer paper. You can buy it from cake shops in small bottles.

glycerin for wafer paper cake decorations

You'll see that when you add gel colour to it, it makes a much smoother liquid without any clumps. But if you spread it just like this onto your wafer paper it won't really absorb. It sits on the surface and you won't get even coverage on your wafer paper.

wafer paper painted with only glycerin

Instead of using it like this with just the glycerin and the food colour, add some clear alcohol or water. Then brush it onto your leaves and it will absorb much better. The combination of glycerin and colour and alcohol paints very evenly onto the leaves while also softening them at the same time. This makes them more flexible and less likely to break.

wafer paper painted with alcohol and glycerin

How to stack a tier cake

While the wafer paper leaves dry, stack your tier cake. Use an offset spatula to slice underneath the smaller cake, which separates it on its tiny cake board from the big cake board.

how to stack a tier cake

Lift it up and put it on the larger cake. Draw around it using an offset spatula to mark where the cake will eventually sit.

how to position the top tier of a cake

You can touch these cakes with your hands because they've been in the fridge so long that the frosting has become really firm and won't get damaged. Now you'll need some supports. I'm using boba straws which are thick, wide straws. You can use wooden dowels if you prefer. You'll need to push them in at least two inches within that line that you drew.

how to position supports in a tier cake

Push all the way until it hits the cake board, pinch it, and pull it out. Cut it at the point you pinched so it's the same height as the cake.

how to measure support straws or dowels for a tier cake

Then hold it up against your other straws to cut them all the same height.

how to measure supports for a tier cake

I only need three straws to support my tiny four inch cake going on top. If your cakes are larger you can use four or five or six straws. When you push them back into the cake, make sure they're all at least two inches apart from each other as well as two inches within the line you scored.

how to use dowels or straws to stack a tier cake

Spread some buttercream on top to cover up the straws and act as glue. Then lift up and lower your small cake on top to stack your tier cake.

how to put a cake on top of a tier cake

There will be a messy join where the top cake meets the bottom cake. That's very easy to cover up by piping buttercream all around the bottom of the top cake.

how to cover the join on a tier cake

Use your offset spatula or a cake comb to scrape off the excess and smooth it. Now you'll have a much neater seam between the two tiers.

how to stack a tier cake neatly

How to decorate a Wild One cake

Achieving a painted effect with buttercream

To decorate this cake you'll need several shades of green. The easiest way to do this is to mix one bowl of green frosting and then split it up into different holes of a cupcake pan. Now add different colours to each of the greens. Yellow makes green brighter whereas orange, brown or red will make it duller. Black makes it darker.

how to make a jungle color palette

Now you'll have a jungly colour palette like this:

jungle cake color palette

Choose one colour and spread blobs of it all around the cake. If you're making a tier cake, space the blobs randomly around the top and bottom tier.

spreading buttercream onto a cake like paint

Then use a cake comb or an offset spatula to smooth those blobs.

painted effect with buttercream on cake

For textured patches, spread another color and then use your offset spatula to create grooves in the frosting. Using side to side motions creates texture like this:

texturing buttercream details on cakes

Pulling your offset spatula upwards leaves vertical grooves in the frosting like this:

oil painted effect with buttercream

You can experiment with lots of ways to add texture. Wiggling the tip of your offset spatula in zag zags across the frosting makes much softer texture like this:

textured buttercream painting on cakes

For little dots put your frosting in a piping bag with a tiny piece cut off the end. As you squeeze the bag to push the buttercream out, leave the tip of the piping bag within the dot that you're piping. This will help the buttercream spread out into a smooth round circle rather than leaving a big textured peak as you pull the bag away.

wild one jungle safari cake decoration

In just two or three minutes you can add lots of colour and texture to your cake with this technique.

Attaching wafer paper leaves and gold animals to a Wild One cake

By now your leaves will have dried. Leaves painted with just glycerin and colour will be very soft and sticky and difficult to handle. They will stick to your fingers instead of the cake. Leaves painted with glycerin, colour and alcohol are much easier to handle because they're flexible and not sticky . They will attach easily to the frosting on the cake if you push them gently.

how to attach animal figures to a frosted cake

You could absolutely do the frosting details on this cake without the leaves and it would still give it a very jungly theme. I'm adding some gold animal figures as finishing touches, after washing and drying them. To attach them to the cake, push them gently into the frosting.

how to decorate a cake for a wild one safari jungle party

This jungle themed cake is perfect as a Wild One cake or a Two Wild cake, or for a baby shower. It has lots of colour and texture and detail that was very quick and easy to create! For more step-by-step cake decorating videos like this check out my online cake school.

You can also watch a video of this tutorial on a Wild One cake:
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