Cake wizards Katherine Kallinis Berman and Sophie Kallinis LaMontagne of Georgetown Cupcake know a thing or two about frosting and making beautiful cakes.
The sisters, inspired by their grandmother, swapped careers in fashion and venture capital about a decade ago to follow their hearts and launch a baking business. Today they run half a dozen shops around the country. “While we love baking cupcakes,” they told us, “we also love baking cakes at home, too!”
Here are the sisters’ top five tip for prettying up your own layer cakes. (One more pro tip: You can buy their cake mixes—some of which are gluten-free—and frostings right here.)
1. Use Sprinkles, Confetti, and Candy to Create a Textured Surface.
We love using this technique to decorate birthday cakes and layer cakes for casual celebrations. Our favorite flavor combinations are Confetti cake paired with a Vanilla Buttercream and Yellow cake paired with a Chocolate Buttercream. After baking the layer cakes and letting them cool, using an offset spatula, frost the top of the bottom layer generously with frosting.
Then, place the top cake layer on top, and cover the entire cake’s surface with a thin “crumb coat” layer of frosting. Freeze the cake for 15 to 20 minutes, then frost the entire surface of the cake with your desired amount of frosting. Next, cover the entire surface of the cake in rainbow sprinkles, chocolate sprinkles, or edible confetti. Add an accent of buttercream around the edge by piping small bursts of frosting through a star-shaped piping tip.
For an extra-festive touch, using piping gel, attach a strip of rainbow candy along the base of the cake, or add additional buttercream star bursts. This is a fun and colorful way to decorate cakes for all types of parties.
2. Add Fruit or Other Ingredients to Create Your Own Custom Seasonal Flavor.
With our Georgetown Cupcake layer cake mixes, it’s easy to customize the mixes to create custom seasonal flavors. One of our favorite custom creations is adding fresh key lime zest and juice to our Yellow cake batter and Vanilla Buttercream frosting to turn it into a Coconut Key Lime cake. After covering the cake in the key lime-infused vanilla buttercream, cover the entire cake in sweetened coconut flakes and garnish the edges and top with thin slices of key lime. (You can also toast the coconut for a slightly caramelized flavor.)
This cake is perfect to serve for summer. Another one of our other favorite combinations? Adding peanut butter chips to our Dark Chocolate cake mix and adding Peanut Butter to our Vanilla Buttercream to create a Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cake. We love to decorate this cake by covering its surface in chocolate chips. When deciding on flavor combinations, our recommendation is to pair citrus and berry fruits with our Yellow cake mix and chocolate, toffee, and candies (such as peppermint for the holiday season) with our Dark Chocolate layer cake mix. The flavor combinations are endless!
3. Less Is More: Decorate Using Only a Crumb Coat.
Typically, when decorating a layer cake with frosting, you apply a thin “crumb coat” of frosting on the cake and then freeze it to let the frosting set. Then, you apply a thicker layer of decorative frosting. However, there is something that’s rustic and beautiful about just decorating a cake with a thin crumb coat of frosting. It’s a very organic look that’s perfect for outdoor evening events.
If you go this route, we recommend doubling up on the frosting in between the layers, so guests don’t miss out on the delicious frosting. If you are doing a fruit-flavored crumb coat (i.e. strawberry buttercream), garnish the cake with some of the same fruit for a beautiful organic touch.
4. Garnish With Fresh Flowers.
If you are having a dinner party and don’t have much time, but still want to bake a cake and achieve an elegant look—decorate it with fresh flowers. (Note: Be sure to only use edible flowers if you want your guests to eat them!) This is a very quick way to elevate the look of a layer cake. You can also drape a thin sheet of fondant over the frosted cake for a sleek look, or you can frost your cake by hand using an offset spatula in small strokes to achieve a less formal look, depending on the occasion.
5. Decorate Using a Star-Shaped Piping Tip.
For a different frosting look (compared to “flat” frosting), try using a small star-shaped piping tip to decorate the entire surface of your layer cake. After applying a crumb coat of frosting, freeze your cake for 15 to 20 minutes so that the frosting hardens. Then, using small squeezes of pressure, cover the surface of your cake with small starbursts of buttercream. This creates a formal textured look and it’s easy to do at home. (Note: Sophie used this technique to frost Katherine’s enormous wedding cake tower using Champagne buttercream.)
Check out all our delicious Georgetown Cupcake mixes, including their cupcakes, which we can ship to your door!
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