Cake Decorating at ANY Level


Today's post is all about cake decorating - no matter what your skill level is! When I started my blog, I had never held a piping bag and knew little to nothing about fondant. I started with ideas on Pinterest that used candy and various simple means of decorating cupcakes. I did occasionally pipe on decorations, but I didn't own any tips or pastry bags, so I would just cut a whole in Ziplocs. It wasn't the fanciest method, but it did the job.

As I progressed, I learned a LOT about cake (and cupcake) decorating! I started investing in some tools, most of which made my life much easier. It also just takes a lot of practice to get to more advanced levels. As I review my creations, I feel like they kind of fall into three categories, or levels, of expertise: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Now, I should say that this is advanced relative to my skills. My "advanced" cakes are no where near the skill and complexity of much more advanced bakers. But, for me, I break down these levels to mean this:

Beginner - no special tools or fondant required
Intermediate - some piping tips and tools required
Advanced - fondant, special tools, training/practice required

So here is my round-up of ideas, hopefully you find something you would like to re-create! I wanted to share these as a fun round-up to help people of all decorating levels find some ideas. Plus, a lot of these creations came from when my mom and a few friends were the only ones reading my blog. Now that I have more readers, I'd like to share some of these "old" posts! This is a loooong post - feel free to jump to whatever level you are interested in. But, I'd love for you to check out all the ideas if you are interested!

BEGINNER LEVEL:

Domino Graham Cracker Treats


These domino snacks were one of my first decorating treats I made for the blog. These are the only non-cake idea in the round-up. My family loves to play games when we get together, particularly Dominoes. I decided it would be fun to have a themed snack for one of our game nights. These snacks are simply graham crackers covered in white chocolate and topped with mini M&M's. I put melted chocolate in a Ziploc, with the corner cut, to make the line in the center. They were fun to make, and an easy snack to munch on during the game. You can find the full instructions here.

Very Hungry Caterpillar Cupcakes


The next creation is a bit more of a challenge, but definitely do-able. I made this without any piping tools. The Very Hungry Caterpillar cupcake/cake creation was for an adoption shower we threw for my sister. It was just a couple months before she and her family left for China. It really isn't too complicated. You start by baking cupcakes and a 6-inch round cake. You decorate those with green and red icing - you are almost done! I just added some features (name, feet, facial features) with chocolate. I melted it and piped it through a Ziploc bag onto wax paper. Nothing too complicated! Check out the post here.

Easy Flower Cupcakes

Finally, I have some flower cupcakes. Now I know what you are thinking, these look pretty complicated! But really they aren't, I promise! All that's required is cutting marshmallows in half, sticking them in sprinkles, and then placing them down on icing. It's one of the simplest ways to make cupcakes really pop. Read more about the cupcake assembly here.


INTERMEDIATE LEVEL

Now things get more complicated...but just a little!

Flower Cupcakes


These cupcakes make quite a statement. I have made them for three different occasions now, they are always a big hit! They aren't as complicated as they look, as long as you have the right tools. The rose and sunflower cupcakes really require that you have some piping tips. You need a star tip to do the rose, and the leaf tip to do the sunflower. The daisy is much more simple, it's just hard to keep the petals from falling off sometimes!! Check out my first post about these cupcakes here.

1950's cupcakes


These cupcakes are relatively simple, but make quite the statement. They were made for a 50's themed surprise party for my mom. The soda pop cupcake icing is best piped, so you get that soda pop look. The record cupcakes were made by piping on the music notes. I made a record out of Wilton sugar sheets, it's not too hard to work with. Definitely check out this post, I include instructions on making a cupcake stand using old records!

Panda Cupcakes


These "bear"-y cute cupcakes (sorry couldn't resist), are easier than they look to make! I used mini Oreos and chocolate icing to make all the details. I included them in the intermediate level, though, because there is a lot of piping! You need an actual tip for this one, as well as a steady hand. Check out the post about these here.


ADVANCED LEVEL

Now things get fun...

Lions, Tigers,...and Soccer Ball?


Ok, so this one needs a bit of an explanation. My husband and I are very close with my niece and nephew. They live a few hours away, though, so we don't see them a lot. When we do see them, we love to spoil them do special things for them. They were both on soccer teams last fall and we got to come home for a game. I made them special cupcakes with soccer balls and their team's mascots - my niece was on the Lions team and my nephew was on the Tigers team. These cupcakes require a lot of fondant work, so you definitely need some experience when working on this. You can find the step by step instructions here.

Love Birds cake



This is one of my favorite cakes, I made it for my husband for Valentine's Day. We love penguins and it was the perfect theme for us! This cake takes some practice in piping text, smoothing buttercream, and working with shaping fondant. You can find the cake topper instructions here. If you are interested in the cake recipe (chocolate covered strawberry cake - strawberry cake with white chocolate buttercream and milk chocolate filling), you can find it here.

Basketball Cake

Finally, I have a cake for basketball fans! I made this cake for my husband's birthday, he is a huge UK Wildcats fan. This was made in 2012 when they were still the reigning NCAA champs. This year - not so much! But, he loves them anyway. This cake took a LOT of work, it definitely is one of my more "advanced" cakes! I've made some more complicated looking cakes (including my pink/zebra print tiered cake and my Disney's Cars themed cake), but this one used a ton of different skills. Even the basketball goal was made by me, using a mixture of gum paste and fondant! You can find the instructions here.

Hope you enjoyed this post and maybe found some ideas you'd like to try! I definitely recommend just trying your hand at it, even if you've never made a cupcake before. I hadn't baked much a couple years ago, and now it's a huge passion of mine! 

Check back next week as I help beat the summer heat with the kick-off of a homemade ice cream series (aka I finally start using my ice cream maker I got last month)!