When deciding on how you are going to decorate a cake, the type of occasion you are celebrating should be a key factor. Whether you are making the cake for a birthday, baby shower or wedding, there are plenty of decorating options available to create the best-looking cake for the occasion.
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Frosting is the most common and typically the first thing spread on cakes, both for flavor and decorations. The most basic frosting is butter cream, made from butter and powdered sugar, and is widely available in can form at the grocery store. Butter cream frosting is also often piped into pastry bags to create decorative cake borders. For wedding cakes, many bakers cover the layers with rolled fondants, which has a gummy, paste-like texture that creates a smooth, attractive finish to cakes. Other frosting types for cakes include cream cheese frosting, chocolate ganache and whipped cream.
Common cake toppings after frosting the cake include rainbow-colored and chocolate sprinkles, candy confetti, edible glitter and confetti, and colored sugar. You can create patterns or designs with the candy decorations or sprinkle them randomly onto the cake, depending on the style you are going for. You can also use traditional candies such as candy-coated chocolate pieces and chunks of chocolate bars to decorate the top of the cake.
Flowers are used to decorate everything from birthday cakes to wedding cake. Many are edible flowers made from royal icing, which is made from powdered sugar, water and egg whites and hardens as it dries. Flowers also can be made out of sugar gum paste. Some wedding cake bakers use real flowers on top of wedding cakes covered in fondant. Real flowers often have a more authentic and impressive presentation than the edible ones.
For themed birthday cakes, many people add fake figurines and plastic toys to decorate the cake. For instance, if your child is a fan of a certain cartoon superhero, you could make a cake with a scene from the show or movie and insert little toy replicas of the character. Many wedding cakes include plastic bride and groom toppers as well. Just make sure to remove any inedible cake decorations before serving the cake.