Frosting is often the first thing we turn to when it comes to decorating a cake (it is totally delicious, after all), but this sweet topping just scratches the surface when it comes to decorating. There are so many different and simple ways to put the finishing touches on a cake that turn out impressive results, like glazes and sauces, fruit, and edible flowers, to name a few. So if you're frosting-averse or just want something new to try, here are six beautiful and easy ways to decorate a cake — no frosting required.
1. Whipped Cream
Looks like frosting, but it's not. A neat pile of whipped cream spread over (and even through the middle) of your cake gives it a pretty similar appearance to frosting, but with just two ingredients it comes together quicker and easier. Give it a little more pizzazz with chopped nuts, fruit, sprinkles, or citrus zest.
Get a recipe: Lemon Pistachio Cake from The Life Jolie
When it comes to Bundt cakes, glaze (or even caramel sauce) is a much better choice then frosting. It adds that extra sweetness you're looking for, but it's thin enough to show off those pretty ridges. A simple glaze comes together with just powdered sugar and milk, and also makes a good choice for angel food and chiffon cakes.
3. Powdered Sugar
Sometimes the simplest solutions can also be the prettiest. If you prefer something a bit more minimalist, give your cake a dusting of powdered sugar just before serving. This works especially well with chocolate and dark-colored cakes, like red velvet, as well as those with delicate flavors. You can also take this a step further by using a stencil, or even a few strips of parchment paper, to create a more decorative powdered sugar topping.
Get a recipe: Whole-Wheat Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake from My Diary of Us
4. Chocolate or Caramel Sauce
Trust me — no one will ever miss the frosting when there is a blanket of dreamy chocolate or rich caramel sauce over the top of your cake. Use dessert sauces to decorate layer cakes, Bundt cakes, and pound cakes.
Get a recipe: Banana + Cream Cheese Naked Cake with Salted Caramel
5. Fresh Fruit
Who needs frosting when you have a cake like this? A pile of mixed fresh fruit is one of my favorite ways to instantly up the ante with any cake. It's a fresh and stunning addition anytime, and it works with everything from layer cakes to skillet cakes to pound cakes. Go for a double dose of fruitiness by adding a layer of jam under the fruit.
Get a recipe: Skinny Chocolate Cake from I Am Baker
6. Syrups + Edible Flowers
Not a drop of frosting in sight and this cake couldn't be more beautiful. Instead, a sea of pretty, edible flowers steal the show. Consider incorporating more flavor by brushing the top of the cake with a simple syrup or honey before adding the flowers. This added step also helps them stay put.
Get a recipe: Flowery Citrus Cake