If you joined The Kitchn's Baking School, then you're deep into our last few lessons on layer cakes and decorating basics. If you've got your cake and some basic buttercream, what's next? What takes a cake from good to great? Decoration!
Creating an Instagram-ready cake doesn't mean you have to be a pro with the pastry bag. Here are seven ways to make your cake look over-the-top dramatic — but don't require decorating genius to achieve.
1. Colorful cereal designs
Reach into the pantry and pull out a box of brightly colored cereal. Trix or even Fruity Pebbles should do the trick. Go to town with lines and patterns. If making a beautifully frosted cake isn't quite your forte, no problem! Once you've covered the cake with cereal pieces, no one will even see the frosting.
2. More dessert on top of your dessert
There is no universe where a cake like this will ever be a bad idea. It's dessert on dessert! Because buttercream and chocolate ganache sometimes simply aren't enough, this cake is topped with homemade marshmallows, meringues, and macarons.
→ Get the recipe: Vanilla Bean Cake via Fork to Belly
3. A pretty touch of fresh flowers
Fresh flowers on cakes are not just for weddings. A few fresh flowers have the power to totally transform your cake into a real beauty. Pick your favorite florals (making sure to only use flowers that haven't been sprayed with pesticides — you want to keep the cake safe to eat), or try edible flowers, like roses, violets, and pansies.
→ Get the recipe: Fresh Flower Cake: How to Make a Naked Cake via Coco Cake Land
4. Chocolate chips as polka-dots
This idea is so simple and smart. Talk about putting a pantry staple to good use! This cake proves that chocolate chips are not just for cookies.
→ Get the recipe: Chocolate Chip Cookies and Milk Cake via Sprinkles Bakes
5. A pile of fresh fruit
Sometimes a big pile of fresh fruit is all you really need. A cake like this is sweet and stunning.
→ Get the recipe: Strawberry Tres Leches Cake via Matchbox Kitchen
6. Watercolor brushstrokes
No, we're not talking actual watercolor paint on your cake. The painted watercolor look comes from spreading colored buttercream over the surface of the iced cake. Big wow-factor; so easy to do.
→ Get the recipe: Watercolor Buttercream Party Cake via Sweetapolita
7. Spoon petals of buttercream
Some simple colored buttercream can really do wonders for your cake. But if you want to up the design factor, mix a few colors of buttercream and divide them among resealable bags with the tips snipped off; then dollop overlapping colors over the cake, pressing into petals with the back of a teaspoon.
→ Get the recipe: DIY Rainbow Petal Cake via The Cake Blog